Orono's Jonathan Steelman and Brendan Penfold of Deer Isle-Stonington battle for the lead early in the Class C North boys race. Credit: Ernie Clark

BELFAST, Maine — Hampden Academy, Hermon and Orono backed up last weekend’s victories at conference championship meets by winning North regional boys cross-country titles Saturday at Troy Howard Middle School.

Those three teams will lead the top 50 percent of the schools in their respective races to next Saturday’s state championships at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.

The top 30 individuals in each regional race also qualified for states.

Hampden placed three runners among the top six overall finishers and won the Class A North crown, scoring 52 points to top second-place Bangor (67).

Junior Wyatt Lord paced the Broncos with a third-place overall finish in a time of 16 minutes, 15.64 seconds for the 3.1-mile route, with his next four teammates to cross the finish line — Connor Glowa (fifth), Graham Sokoloski (sixth), Jason Mathies (13th) and Lucas Hale (25th) — all separated by just 53 seconds.

“We train together so we can run with each other and we know what to do when it comes to races,” said Lord. “That’s what it’s about, it’s about the team.”

Sophomore Lisandro Berry-Gaviria of Mt. Ararat of Topsham won the A North race in a personal-best 15:53.37 as the top four finishers in the regional placed in the same order as they did at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships. Bangor’s Gabe Coffey took second followed by Lord and Dominic Sclafani of Oxford Hills of South Paris.

Patrick Fraser finished 10th overall for Bangor with Gordon Doore (15th), Dwight Knightly (16th) and Gavin Sychterz (24) also helping the Rams to their runner-up effort.

Mt. Ararat (81 points), Brunswick (113), Mt. Blue of Farmington (141), Lewiston (156) and Cony of Augusta (161) also qualified teams for the state meet.

In Class B, Hermon may not have a lot of recent cross country tradition — its girls team last won a state championship in 1977 — but the Hawks are proving themselves strong on the boys side this year by following up last week’s Penobscot Valley Conference title with a regional crown forged in depth.

Hermon scored 81 points to edge runner-up Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor and third-place Waterville — both finished with 86 points but MDI won the sixth-runner tiebreaker. Also advancing to states are Caribou (90), Belfast (156), Presque Isle (166) and Erskine Academy of South China, which won a sixth-place tiebreaker against Ellsworth to claim the final qualifying berth after both teams finished with 169 points.

“When we came into this season we had pretty much all returners from last year,” said second-year Hermon coach Megan McCarthy. “As a goal we were going to put Hermon back on the map this year so that’s what they’re fired up about, and every day they come to practice and focus on that one little concept.”

Waterville’s Nicholas Dall won the individual title in 16:41.50, just ahead of Caribou’s Dylan Marrero (16:46.07), one of three Vikings in the top six along with Kyle Boucher (sixth) and Evan Desmond (seventh).

Junior Braedon Stevens placed fifth to lead Hermon while the Hawks’ other scorers — Kyle Byram (ninth), Dylan Fowler (20th), Zachary Beaton (21st) and Ben Zapsky (26th) all finished within 38.19 seconds of each other.

“In practice we have such competitive kids and we’ve talked about working as a group so when one runner gets his second wind to lead the pack, the other ones will follow,” said McCarthy. “That keeps the kids motivated, knowing that they can do it with their teammates right beside them doing the same thing.”

In Class C, junior Jonathan Steelman’s second-place finish led five Orono runners among the top 11 finishers as the defending state champion Red Riots steamrolled to the North title.

Orono, which won the PVC Class C title last week, scored 19 points to outdistance the other teams that advanced to states — George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (104), Greater Houlton Christian Academy (107), Maine School of Science and Mathematics of Limestone (129), Calais (144), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (159) and Lee Academy (160).

“We’re really, really excited for what we can do come state meet next Saturday,” said Steelman, who finished behind only race winner Brendan Penfold of Deer Isle-Stonington in a personal-best time of 16:43.15. “We really like focusing more on the team than the individual, and I think we accomplished that today.”

Penfold won the race in 16:40.70, with Orono’s Matt Keresey, Evan Merchant of Jonesport-Beals and Jonny Spencer of Orono rounding out the top five.

Orono’s other scorers were 10th-place Sam Holt and 11th-place Tucker Ellis.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...