BELFAST — The Mount Desert Island cross-country team continued its 2020 season Saturday with this year’s Festival of Champions at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.
The meet was another successful one for MDI, with the girls’ team claiming second place and the boys’ team taking third. The meet pitted the Trojans against runners from nine other schools across Hancock, Penobscot and Waldo counties.
In the girls’ team competition, MDI’s 69 points were second only to Bangor’s 40. All seven Trojan runners finished in the top half of the 62-runner field.
The MDI girls got top-20 finishes from Callan Eason (seventh place; 20:59.73), Ella Joyce (10th place; 21:21.52), Grace Munger (11th; 21:36.91) and Piper Soares (18th; 22:28.13). Cassidy Hanscom (24th; 23:19.24), Azaria Long (26th; 23:30.63) and Olivia Johnson (23:54.82) capped off a strong day for the Trojans.
On the boys’ side, MDI claimed 73 points as a team to finish third behind Bangor and Hampden Academy. Each of the Trojans’ seven runners finished in the race’s top 40.
Ponce Saltysiak finished fourth with a time of 16 minutes, 49.02 seconds for MDI, and teammates Cody Parker (12th place; 17:46.93), Sam York (13th place; 17:47.69) and Jon Genrich (20th; 18:24.71) joined him in the top 20. Mason Soares (24th; 18:44.98), Liam KcKernan (37th; 19:28.28) and Tucker James (40th; 19:40.82) rounded out the remainder of the field for the Trojans.
With new restrictions in place aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, the race, which typically draws teams from across Maine, New England and Atlantic Canada, was limited to local runners. Whereas last year’s race drew 1,644 runners, the smaller field of 128 and lack of spectators this year made for a much different race atmosphere.
“I think in years past, you could more easily rely on the energy of spectators, fans and other competitors to assist you in reaching P.R.s and racing at a top level,” MDI head coach Desiree Sirois said. “This year, you had to internally focus more heavily – create the desire, grit and race mentality within for both yourself and the team. I feel like our runners really achieved this mindset.”
MDI will be back in action at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, when it competes against Ellsworth and Deer Isle-Stonington at Ellsworth High School. That meet will mark the third of the year for the Trojans, who will begin the second half of the season at Bucksport the following week.
“As we move toward the second half of our season, we move with confidence in our training, in our ability to achieve our goals and in our team’s drive to work together to achieve success,” Sirois said. “This week, our focus will be mental strategies. This week will also serve as a mid-season physical and emotional check in.”