(From left) Callan Eason, Amelia Van Dongen and Grace Munger of the MDI girls’ cross-country team run in a pack during meet Sept. 4 at Ellsworth High School. Each of the MDI girls’ team’s seven runners placed in the top 13 of the 50-runner field. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS POPPER/WDEA

MDI boys, girls place 1st in opening cross-country meet



Mount Desert Island’s Tucker James (left) and Spencer Rose compete in the boys’ race during a high school cross-country meet Sept. 4 at Ellsworth High School. The MDI boys’ and girls’ teams began the 2021 season with wins in their respective team events.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS POPPER/WDEA

ELLSWORTH — The Mount Desert Island cross-country team has picked up right where it left off last November.

MDI claimed boys’ and girls’ team titles in Saturday’s Ellsworth Invitational at Ellsworth High School. The Trojans placed all their runners in the upper echelons of both fields to edge the Orono boys and girls for the victories.

On the girls’ side, a pair of MDI runners freshmen made strong debuts on a squad loaded with veteran runners. Amelia VanDongen was the top runner for the MDI girls with a time of 20 minutes, 38.64 seconds and an overall place of the third, and fellow newcomer Meri Rainford finished with a time of 21:34.79 to place 11th in the 50-runner field.

The MDI girls’ team’s upperclassmen, though, were not to be outdone. Callan Eason (sixth place, 21:17.04), Grace Munger (seventh place, 21:28.39), Ella Joyce (ninth, 21:34.75) and Piper Soares (10th, 21:34.79) finished in the top 10 for the trojans, and AyliGrace Munro placed 11th with a time of 21:49.30.

MDI’s boys’ squad emerged victorious in a field that included 12 full teams and runners from 16 different schools. The Trojans placed five runners in the top 20 of the 87-person field and the remaining two in the top 35.

Sam York led the way for the MDI boys’ team with a third-place finish and a time of 17:14.55. Joining York in the top 10 from MDI was Liam McKernan, who placed ninth with a time of 18:19.75.

The MDI boys’ senior trio of Tucker James, Spencer Rose and Callahan Bryer finished a respective 16th, 17th and 18th with times of 18:48.83, 18:49.15 and 18:52.51. Jay Haney placed 33rd for the Trojans with a time of 19:43.19, and Ryan Davis finished 35th with a time of 19:45.18.

On the boys’ side, MDI posted 60 points as a team to beat out Orono (77 points) and John Bapst (93 points) for first place. The girls’ team earned 2 points to top the Red Riots’ 41.

“[This was a chance to] assess where we are and get a clear of picture of what our goals, strengths and weaknesses will be in the upcoming weeks,” MDI head coach Desiree Sirois said. “Our team worked together, committed to team objectives and expectations, raced intelligently and had fun.”

Unlike last year’s meets, where crowds were kept to a minimum (if allowed at all), the area surrounding the Ellsworth course was filled with runners’ friends and family members. The sounds of fans cheering on runners of all schools was a much better backdrop than last year’s quiet, spectator-less venues.

“It was amazing to have spectators, parents, family and friends to share in the day,” Sirois said. “[That was] so fulfilling for everyone and made the day so much sweeter.”

MDI will take a week off from competition to compete in its annual team trail race, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. The Trojans’ next meet is scheduled for 4 p.m. next Friday, Sept. 17, at George Stevens Academy.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]
Mike Mandell

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