Houlton XC squads have talent, numbers

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton boys and girls cross country squads are now two meets into their season and have shown steady improvement along the way.

Chris Rines, who has guided the cross country squads for the past few years, said he was excited about the prospects for the new season.

“Overall the boys are going to be excited to see some team scoring this season,” coach Rines said. “We return just two from last season, but the team will be competitive in the Aroostook league.”

The boys roster features returning runners Nolan Jacobs and Ean Bolstridge, both juniors; senior Donald Ouellette; sophomore Brandon Roshto; and freshman Daniel Ross. The Shires lost Jeremy Cook to graduation, and a runner from Hodgdon, Joel Bond, who ran with the club last year and served as an inspirational peer.

Houlton’s Donald Ouellette goes all out as he sprints to the finish line during a Sept. 4 cross-country meet in Houlton. (Joseph Cyr)

Ross has a strong running background, having been one of the top Aroostook County boys among middle school competition in previous years. Roshto is coming off of a breakout season of track and field as a freshman that saw him qualify for the PVC championship meet. “He is new to distance running but is already coming to form,” Rines said.

Ouellette had his first taste of running track and field this past spring and has been hooked since, according to his coach. “His senior campaign has already been highlighted by a tremendous work ethic through the summer and early fall,” he said.

Bolstridge and Jacobs will be looked upon to provide veteran leadership this season.

“Ean returns for his second season with a year’s experience and a drive to improve,” the coach said. “He has stepped up big early on this fall with his mileage and has a smarter approach to his racing. Nolan takes the helm of captain this season, the only boy with two seasons of cross country experience. His leadership will be instrumental in bringing the team through the season.”

On the girls side, a number of new runners are looking to make their marks with the team, which could be poised for big things.

“The girls team looks to be competitive this season and has a team goal of capturing one of few spots in the state championship meet at the end of October,” Rines said. “Though we have advanced several individuals to the state championship over my coaching tenure here at Houlton, we have yet to have a full team qualify for the boys or the girls. This girls squad looks to be the first such team to do so.”

The girls team is led by returning runners senior Lauren Swimm, junior Jeannelle Ross and sophomore Emmalyne Drake. They are joined by first-year runners Ellie Grant, Aliya Sabattis-Webber, Jayden Swimm, Makenna Cooley and Elizabeth Donahue.

Drake, the top Houlton runner a year ago, could be poised to once again lead the Shires in scoring. Ross looks to improve upon last season having just missed qualifying for states as an individual at the regional meet by a handful of places. Lauren Swimm enters her third season as captain. Her times have improved each year and she will be a strong example for the younger runners, the coach said.

“Donahue starts the season with us a bit late but is eager to start running and we are excited to have her join the squad,” Rines said. “Jayden Swimm, the younger sister of Lauren, is starting to get her legs underneath her as the team begins its season. This first-time runner is already seeing her hard work pay off by following her sister’s lead.”

Sabattis-Webber, Grant and Cooley will be looking to  make impacts as freshmen.

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