Runners leave the starting line for the Class C girls cross country state championship race at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast on Saturday. Credit: Ernie Clark / BDN

Ruth White went out Saturday morning and did what she’s fast becoming known for — running very fast.

Her Orono High School teammates did the same thing, and the cooperative effort led the Red Riots to their sixth Class C girls cross country state championship in the last nine years at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

“It means so much to us,” said White, a sophomore who turned in the fastest girls’ time of the day regardless of class — 17 minutes, 31.92 seconds — while winning the first race of the daylong event. “To give that to our coaches for all the work they’ve put in for us and for our seniors, that means a lot for all of us.”

Two other regular contenders for regional and state honors also captured state titles, with Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor winning Class B and Bonny Eagle High School of Standish earning its third consecutive Class A crown.

White’s finish was impressively predictable on a 3.1-mile route where she set the course record of 17:28.46 while winning the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions in her first race on the course in early October.

White jumped out to an immediate lead amid a light mist en route to earning a comfortable victory over Thea Crowley of George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, who had the second-fastest time of the day in 18:21.35.

She already owns three of the fastest girls times in the course’s more than 20-year history, with her clocking at states the third fastest and her 17:41.10 in winning the Class C North regional a week earlier the sixth fastest.

“She’s crazy,” joked her older sister, senior Nora White. “She knows what she has to do and she does it every time. She’s incredible to watch. It’s really cool.”

Nora White, recently sidelined by injury after finishing second to Ruth at the Festival of Champions, returned to finish third in 18:49.39 and helped Orono edge Class C North champion Houlton-Greater Houlton Christian Academy 35-48 to win the six-school team competition.

“I just felt glad to be out there running with my team again,” she said.

Ellie Brooks placed eighth and Megan Gerbi was 13th for Orono, which also got a strong effort from fifth runner Katherine Kohtala, who placed 19th among the scoring runners.

“[Kohtala] came through with the race that we needed from her today, that was just phenomenal,” said Orono cross country coach Lin White, Ruth and Nora’s father. “She said she was going to do it for the team team and she did.”

MDI placed five runners among the top 15 scorers in the Class B race to post 46 points, less than half of runner-up Cape Elizabeth (106).

Freshman Amelia VanDongen placed fifth to pace the Trojans, but the team’s first state title since winning three straight between 2011 and 2013 was based just as much on depth.

Seniors AyliGrace Munro (seventh) and Grace Munger (ninth) added top-10 finishes for MDI, with junior Ella Joyce (14th) and freshman Meri Rainford (18th) rounding out the scoring contingent as the Trojans captured the ninth state championship in program history.

“It’s going to inadvertently create pressure for us but we just make sure we’re running with joy,” said Munger of MDI’s championship pedigree. “Even though we recognize the pressure we don’t let the pressure consume us in a way that will prevent us from performing to the best of our abilities. We just make sure to support each other and make sure we know that even if we don’t place first in a race we’re going to be proud of each other no matter how we run.”

Hadley Mahoney, a sophomore from Cape Eizabeth, won the Class B individual title in 18:46.85.

Bonny Eagle senior Delaney Hesler won the Class A race in 18:28.29, topping Bangor senior Megan Randall, who finished in 18:40.19.

Emmaline Pendleton added a fifth-place finish to help Bonny Eagle to a comfortable team victory, with the Scots scoring 51 points to pull away from a tight battle for the runner-up spot among the 13 competing teams.

Marshwood of South Berwick finished second with 112 points, followed by Gorham (115) and fourth-place Bangor (118).

Katie McCarthy (17th) and Sadie Harrow (18th) also contributed top-20 finishes for Bangor.

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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...