The University of Maine cross country teams were back in action on Friday at home. On a hot sticky afternoon, they picked up a split with archrival University of New Hampshire.
On the women’s side, third-year Hailey Lawrence finished in 19:09, a time that was good for her first career first-place finish. Despite Lawrence’s strong finish, the Black Bears (0-2) fell to the Wildcats (1-1) by a score of 23-36. First-year Emma Jourdain finished in fourth with a time of 19:41. Fourth-year Cassandra Howard ran her final meet in Orono, and made the most of it. Howard placed eighth with a time of 20:04, a personal best at the university course. Third-years Hope and Faith Gardner finished neck and neck, taking 14th and 15th place respectively and finishing within five seconds of each other.
Lawrence spent the summer training for this season by running the peaks at Acadia National Park. The conditions for this meet, however, were vastly different from what she had been working in.
“It’s a different feel [from how I trained], but I know this course well,” Lawrence said.
On the men’s side, the Black Bears (1-1) dominated the early parts of the races before the Wildcats could make it interesting.
Third-year Aaron Willingham led the way for the Black Bears, finishing the five mile race in first place with a time of 25:54. This was the first meet victory in Willingham’s collegiate career. Maine would take four spots in the top five, with second-year Jake Terry taking second with a time of 26:06, third-year Josh Horne taking third at 26:16 and third-year Dan Lesko taking fifth at 26:37.
New Hampshire would stay in the meet with a few crucial finishes of their own. Second-year Nicolas Ochoa-Sevilla finished in fourth, and the Wildcats would take spots 6 through 11 before third-year Simon Powhida took 12th place for Maine’s final scorer.
Willingham is optimistic about the team’s performance moving forward.
“Now that we have seen how well we can run at this humidity, maybe we could do something even better next week against better competition,” Willingham said.
Maine will be back in action next Friday for the Battle of Beantown down in Boston. New Hampshire will also be in Boston on Friday for the Boston Coast to Coast meet in Franklin Park. These two schools will face off in the New England Championships on Oct. 7.