Like most athletic-minded kids bound for Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Connor Daigle grew up thinking basketball might be his main sport once he had a chance to play for the Panthers.
Not long after he picked up distance running to get in shape for the winter season, Daigle had a decision to make.
Two years later, he is not only the newly crowned Class B state champion in cross country and the reigning best in class in the 3,200-meter run during outdoor track season, he also has made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Maine next fall and run for the Black Bears.
“I had to make the decision of what sport I should take more seriously and then I started to take running seriously and actually started training for it,” he said. “Then, I had a pretty good junior year and thought, ‘I made the right decision.’”
Daigle said he also considered attending Stony Brook, UConn, Penn State and several Division II schools on the East Coast before opting for UMaine, where he plans to major in kinesiology, minor in psychology and spend a fifth year studying physical therapy.
“I had a lot of schools on the East Coast that I’ve been very grateful to receive offers to run at, but for me I really wanted to stay home and run for UMaine,” Daigle said.
The Union resident won his first state championship last spring when he captured the Class B track title at 3,200 meters with a time of 9 minutes, 42.61 seconds. Since then, he has lowered his personal best for that distance to 9:39 and for the mile on the track to 4:26.
Daigle this fall established himself as one of the state’s top cross country runners, first as he placed third behind winner Daniel McCarthy of Bangor and eventual Class A state champion Abbott Valentine of Hampden Academy at the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions in Belfast on Oct. 2.
Daigle went on to sweep the Class B titles at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and North regional meets, then became the first Medomak Valley runner to win a state cross country championship back at Belfast on Oct. 30.
Next up for Daigle is Saturday’s 86th annual New England Interscholastic Cross Country Championships on a challenging 3.1-mile course through the woods at Thetford (Vermont) Academy.
“I definitely want to try to place among the top 10 or top five,” he said. “Of course, my mentality is going to be to win it, but realistically that’s probably not going to happen. We’ll see.”
The race also may feature one more battle for top in-state honors with Daigle, Valentine, McCarthy and Grady Satterfield of Mt. Ararat School in Topsham all having qualified for the New Englands through their state-meet performances.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of race unfolds,” said Daigle, whose cousin, Bucksport High School sophomore William Hileman, also qualified for the New England championships after finishing second at the Class C state meet. “I’m really looking forward to it.”