BUCKSPORT — The first meet of championship season saw another consistent effort from Mount Desert Island cross-country teams.
The MDI boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams cruised to title wins in Monday’s Hancock County championships at Bucksport High School. The Trojans continued a strong campaign ahead of the upcoming regional and state championship meets.
“This was another great race for us,” MDI head coach Desiree Sirois said. “We raced with a sense of purpose as a team. … You can tell that the team feeling is coming back more and more with every week, and we grew together again today.”
On the boys’ side, MDI racked up 26 points to finish first of the three qualifying teams. The Trojans finished ahead of George Stevens Academy (46 points) and Bucksport (62 points) to win the Hancock County crown for the third time in four years.
Ponce Saltysiak finished in 16 minutes, 15.77 seconds to claim first place overall in the 26-runner field. The Trojans also got top-five finishes from Sam York (third place; 16:56.93) and Cody Parker (fourth place; 17:03.54).
The Trojans had two more runners finish in the top 10. Jon Genrich placed third with a time of 17:38.38 and Liam McKernan placed 10th with a time of 17:54.48. Spencer Rose (11th place; 17:54.83) and Mason Soares (12th place; 18:00.83) rounded the team scoring for MDI.
On the girls’ side, MDI earned 20 points to top GSA (41 points) for the team championship. Sophomore Callan Eason finished with a time of 19:41:16 to finish as MDI’s top competitor and claim second place overall in the 20-runner field.
In typical MDI fashion, the girls’ team’s pack mentality paid off as Grace Munger (20:16.03), Olivia Johnson (20:43.72), Ella Joyce (20:46.03), Piper Soares (20:59.62) and Cassidy Hanscom (21:30.82) claimed places 3-7. Azaria Long finished 12th (10th among team scorers) with a time of 22:14.07 to round out the scoring for the Trojans.
Sirois attributed MDI’s success so far this season to the team’s intensity during practices. The Trojans have always trained hard, but after the delay to the fall sports season prevented the team from coming together in August and early September, MDI runners have been taken a particularly vigorous approach to their efforts to get up to speed.
“They treat their workouts this year like races,” Sirois said. “When they do their individual runs, they’re accountable both individually and as a team. It’s really a culture where everybody has bought in.”
Even if MDI’s season has been a successful one to date, the 2020 campaign remains a learning experience for all involved. The Trojans have fully embraced the chance to compete in the era of COVID-19, and having opportunities to do so on a weekly basis has helped restore a little bit of normalcy.
“Our kids are so appreciative, and they have been nothing but positive and respectful,” Sirois said. “I really feel like they’re bonding and making everything they can of this experience, and they’re really happy to have it. With every week, there’s more certainty and cohesion.”
MDI’s next meet will be the Northern Maine championships next Saturday, Oct. 31, at Saxl Park in Bangor. That meet, which was originally scheduled to be held at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, was moved following Waldo County’s decision to shut down high school athletic events for a period of at least one week.
With no competition this weekend, the Trojans will have a chance to rest up for that regional title meet. With fresh legs, Sirois’ team will be more than ready to tackle the challenge of a course that will be new to MDI runners.
“The course reminds me a lot of [Festivals of Champions] in the sense that it’s a field that goes up, goes down and weaves a lot,” Sirois said. “If kids are used to that course and are used to this kind of course that goes up and down, I think they can use that to their advantage and do really well.”