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Shire runners succeed at Festival of Champions

BELFAST, Maine — The Festival of Champions is a special turning point in the season for many programs around the state and greater region, as 77 squads participated in this year’s meet.

Sixty-five Maine schools were joined by another 12 from New England and the Canadian Maritimes for this year’s race.

“Our small contingent of athletes ran up against some of the best in the sport and were in the mix with 1,000 boys and 644 girls,” Houlton coach Chris Rines said. “In order for the course to accommodate the volume of runners, the meet was broken up into different heats. There is an unseeded (slower) section, seeded (faster) section, and all freshmen are also separated in their own section.”

The Houlton/GHCA girls team was understaffed for the race due to two runners nursing nagging injuries and a third who had fallen ill late last week. With only four girls placing, the Shires were unable to post a team score.

The boys team was able to score and had its best showing of the year thus far. “Just about every runner ran a career personal best yesterday, if not, they posted a season best time,” Rines said.

For the girls, Teagan Ewings placed 74th at 21 minutes, 11.83 seconds, followed by 108, Emmalyne Drake 21:52.97 (first time breaking 22 minutes, career best); 238, Makenna Cooley 23:21.92 (5 seconds off of career best, best this season); and 593, Hope Royal 31:12.70 (broke previous career best by 3 minutes).

For the boys, Jeremy Stone was the top local  runner, finishing 131st at 18:10.48 (career best). Other Shire results were 153, Daniel Ross, 18:18.32 (career best); 677, Nolan Jacobs, 21:52.11 (career best); 837, Ean Bolstridge, 23:45.59 (6th best all time 5k, season best); and 944, Zachary Jeffery, 26:52.02 (career best).

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