Waldorf Outduels Freeport, Spoils GNG Homecoming

Posted by: SamPfeifle on Sun Sep 22nd, 2019 4:21 pm
Last week, the Gray-New Gloucester girls got their first race win in recent memory, holding off Wayneflete and home-team Fryeburg on the flattest course you're likely to encounter in Maine. This week, GNG had an opportunity to defend its own home turf for homecoming weekend, on Libby Hill trails that are known to represent one of the most challenging courses in the Pine Tree State. However, even facing a first mile that is almost continuously uphill, Maine Coast Waldorf and Freeport are much stronger squads and weren't likely to be cowed. Just how hilly is GNG's track? Last week, the winners ran 21:04 (girls) and 17:01 (boys). This week, it was 22:09 and 18:26. Last week, there were 21 boys under 20 minutes. This week, there were nine. But that doesn't mean there weren't talented runners out there working hard on a beautiful sunny day, unseasonably warm. Last week's overall girls winner, Traip junior Kiara Audette, was in attendance again, leading her non-qualifying team of three runners, as was Maine Coast Waldorf's Olivia Reynolds, who just got edged out by Greely's Marin Provencher in the week one Western Maine Conference tilt at Poland. On the boys side, the Horne boys, junior Martin and freshman Henry, led a Freeport team eager to prove itself against the defending Class C champions in Maine Coast Waldorf, led by Aiden Kusche, who finished ninth overall at the States.Clearly, Maine Coast Waldorf weren't intimidated by the hills, as they looked on both sides to get out of the gate in a hurry and do their best to push the field. [img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-girls-start-e1569179403238.jpg[/img:2sq19373]However, it was Freeport freshman Jillian Wight who entered the hilliest portion of the course with a slim lead on Reynolds, with Audette well back and the home team apparently keeping its powder dry. [img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-girl-early-e1569179413193.jpg[/img:2sq19373]Unlike many courses, however, which loop back upon themselves a few times and give spectators lots of looks at the runners, the GNG roundabout heads into the woods after about a half mile and then keeps the contestants hidden until coming back to that half-mile point and finishing with a couple-hundred yards of flat, open field that's perfect for exciting finishes and sprints that can leave runners sprawled on the turf after the finish line. When next we saw the girls field, Reynolds was rolling downhill towards us with a full head of steam and no sign of competition. [img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-girls-reynolds-e1569179425108.jpg[/img:2sq19373]She would beat out Audette easily, with Wight cruising in half a minute later for third place to set up a team race between Waldorf and Freeport, unless the home team Patriots could group their pack well enough to make up for a lack of small numbers. Indeed, Waldorf and Freeport picked up fourth and fifth (juniors Emma Haims and Elsa Blease) before Abby Dulac reclaimed GNG team leadership by edging out precocious GNG freshman Leah Cote for sixth and seventh. With two runners each in the barn, it would be the back of the pack that decided the race, per usual. Waldorf seemed to deal the decisive stroke when Nora Goldberg and Ava Teegarden finished up eighth and ninth, but they would have to bite their fingernails. A very tight Freeport pack proceeded to take the next four places and put up the first number in the barn: 36.Then came two from the home team, with seniors Madison Garcia and Alison MacDonald doing their best to set an example on Senior Day. That left GNG and Waldorf with four runners in each.[img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-girls-maddie-e1569179366513.jpg[/img:2sq19373]Waldorf 19GNG 38Unfortunately for the red-clad crowd, however, it was Waldorf's Myla McLain they saw next, at 15th, giving Waldorf a total of 34, and the razor-thin, two-point win, while GNG freshman Jessica MacDonald needed another minute to join her sister at the finish line. Ball game. On the boys side, Waldorf used similar tactics, firing out of the gate and doing their best to set the pace. [img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-boys-start-e1569179434255.jpg[/img:2sq19373]In this race, however, there would be little suspense. The Waldorf boys were simply too much. They dominated the early race, with the top-four runners at the half mile mark.[img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-boys-open-e1569179382756.jpg[/img:2sq19373]And by the finish not much had changed:[img:2sq19373]https://portlandsbestalbums.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/09-20-homecoming-boys-finish-e1569179392807.jpg[/img:2sq19373]Waldorf's Kusche led wire to wire, and he was joined virtually the whole way by teammate Seamus Woodruff. In a sign GNG sophomore Wyatt Fessler is a force to be reckoned with looking forward to Regionals and States, he trailed Freeport's Martin Horne, last year's state champion runner-up, by just 10 seconds to take fourth. Waldorf quickly closed the door, however, taking fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth to walk away with 22 points and an easy victory. Henry Horne took seventh, and Freeport cruised into second place with 49 points, even after trading a few punches with Traip. Did pack time matter this week? It sure did. Despite Gunnar Palm representing Traip's highest finisher at 10th, they still pushed aside the home team for third, with a pack time of 2:24 to GNG's 3:55. It was definitely a bit of a reality check for a GNG team feeling its oats a bit and confident on its home course, but the homecoming crowd certainly got some great performances to watch and a chance to cheer on a team that's been on a steady rise for the past half decade.