BELFAST — As far as Hancock County was concerned, Saturday’s Festival of Champions was a day for freshman cross-country runners to shine.
And shine they did.
Dan Curts of the Ellsworth Eagles, who had won just about every race he’s entered so far this season, led the way.
Curts, the only freshman admitted to run in field of 230 in the boys’ seeded competition, placed eighth overall with a time of 16 minutes and 46.54 seconds.
That time put Curts half a minute faster than any of the other 166 freshman boys who competed in the state’s largest annual cross-country competition.
The event attracted nearly 1,300 runners from 65 schools across Maine as well as a handful from other New England states and Canada.
Ellsworth’s Aleta Looker celebrated her birthday with a strong third place finish in the field of 132 freshmen, good for 12th place overall among the 553 girls who completed the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course at the Troy Howard Middle School.
And Looker had good company in the girls’ freshman race in the form of three Mount Desert Island Trojan runners who finished among the top 15.
Nora Hubbell was ninth in 21:26.45, just a fraction of a second ahead of teammate Olivia Erickson, who was 10th in 21:26.98, and Paige Klausky was 15th in 22:20.25.
As expected, the festival showcased most of Maine’s top high school runners.
Leading the way for the girls was Abbey Leonardi, a junior runner from Kennebunk, who took nearly 30 seconds off the previous meet record with her time of 17:58.35.
Coming in right behind her, also under the previous meet record time, was Emily Durgin of Cheverus in Portland in 18:21.90.
Cheverus literally ran away with the girls’ team competition, placing four runners among the top 17 overall to tally 74 points.
John Bapst of Bangor was a distant second with 196 and Massabesic was third with 209.
In the boys’ competition, Matt McClintock of Madison took top honors with his time of 16:06.07, and the team from Scarborough was first with 133 points, followed by Falmouth with 181 and the Dr. J.H. Gillis High of Nova Scotia with 187.
Runners from Ellsworth, MDI, Bucksport, George Stevens Academy and Sumner all competed in the festival.
Team finishes and scoring runners for each school were:
BOYS (55 teams)
Ellsworth, 14th — Curts, eighth; Lyle Stephenson, 80th, 18:12.76; Neal Anderson, 85th, 18:16.10; Stephen Kirby, 123rd, 18:41.22; Blake Pattengale, 133rd, 18:49.04; Kody Holmes, 153rd, 18:57.47; Patrick McKay, 230th, 19:29.67.
MDI, 31st — Sam Swann, 86th, 18:16.11; Jonathon Sproule, 179th, 19:09.73; Cameron Klausky, 219th, 19:24.77; Haydn Thomas, 295th, 19:58.55; James Magnani, 305th, 20:04.26; Andy Gallup, 414th, 21:00.79; and Ransom Burgess, 433rd, 21:09.54.
Sumner, 42nd — Taylor Lee, 82nd, 18:14.86; Brandon Wade, 184th, 19:10.76; Kurt Hand, 346th, 20:22.94; John Sandiego, 455th, 21:30.05; Connor Lee, 686th, 26:08.10; Tyler Riley, 717th, 30:31.50; Patrik Orcutt, 724th, 32:10.40.
GSA, 51st — Sam Stahnke, 216th, 19:22.41; Ben Avery, 405th, 20:55.07; Kalle Bailey, 482nd, 21:48.56; Jacob Reiley, 501st, 22:01.59; and Josh Bowden, 533rd, 22:28.44.
Bucksport, 54th — Robin Doyle, 395th, 20:49.92; Austin Sargent, 459th, 21:31.79; Jordan Gross, 506th, 22:03.95; Mitchell Small, 514th, 22:08.27; Eric Davis, 572nd, 22:51.01; Alex Bourgon, 580th, 22:56.37; and Joe Goodin, 601st, 23:17.11.
GIRLS (46 teams)
MDI, 11th — Hubbell, 49th; Erickson, 51st; Malia Demers, 65th, 21:50.86; Klausky, 94th; Kailyn Russell, 129th, 22:49.70; Caitie Smith, 163rd, 23:08.58; and Emma Soucek, 258th, 24:47.01.
Ellsworth, 18th — Looker, 12th; Jamie Ford, 76th, 22:02.30; Hayley White, 122nd, 22:40.42; Mallory Nightingale, 183rd, 23:33.26; Lauren Barkhouse, 195th, 23:42.44; Kelsey Leighton, 322nd, 25:42.74; and Olivia Mora, 432nd, 28:05.51.
Bucksport, 38th — Sina Fehr, 126th, 22:46.99; Nelly Winship, 150th, 23:01.19; Avalon Langevin, 273rd, 24:58.10; Heather Brown, 395th, 27:07.80; Katie Bridges, 435th, 28:07.98; Brittany Eberhardt, 504th, 29:54.20; and Brianne Newbegin, 516th, 30:56.55.
GSA, 45th — Nicole Bakeman, 173rd, 23:20.41; Amanda Moir, 359th, 26:31.44; Ramsay Williamson, 375th, 26:43.16; Grace Bugbee, 499th, 29:42.68; Elizabeth Doyen, 526th, 32:26.13; and Paige Caldwell-Frost, 537th, 33:36.20.
Hancock County runners will square off again in the annual county championship meet, which has been rescheduled from Saturday at MDI to Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Bucksport High School.