After winning regionals the previous weekend, Boothbay Region High School senior Will Perkins won states Nov. 2, making him the first Seahawks state champion in cross-country.
Perkins’ winning time was 17:10.72. Runner-up was Aidan Laviolette of Lisbon with a time of 17:16.34. Finishing in third was Seamus Woodruff of Maine Coast Waldorf with a time of 17:20.68.
Coach Nick Scott said, “Congratulations on a great season everyone and a very special congratulations goes out to Will Perkins who becomes the first individual state champion from BRHS! In addition to Will's victorious run, several other team members had terrific races.”
The Seahawks-Wolverines teams sent seven boys and one girl to the Maine Class C Championships that had 25 boys teams and 24 girls teams at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland: Lisbon, Orono, Winthrop, Mt. Abram, St. Dominic Regional, Dirigo, Sumner Memorial, Dexter Regional, Houlton, Oak Hill, Fort Kent Community, Telstar Regional, Washburn, Machias, Madawaska, Bucksport and Deer Isle Stonington high schools, Maine School of Sciences and Mathematics, Maine Coast Waldorf, Waynflete School, and Traip, North Yarmouth, Monmouth and George Stevens academies.
The boys placed fifth overall and were narrowly outrun by the Lisbon High School Greyhounds.
Scott said the state meet was much more competitive than in years past; Twin Brook is generally expected to be about 30 seconds slower than the Belfast course, so everyone’s time is the equivalent of a personal record, said Scott.
“A year ago Nathan ran at states and placed 53rd in a time of 19:34. That is quite an improvement over the course of a year … Mason Erhard came up with the best race of his season finishing in 19:11, which is likely the equivalent of a 10-second personal record for him … Lucas Hardwick had another solid race, running three seconds faster than a week ago on a slower, muddier course to place 50th … Gryffin Kristan ends the year with a personal best that when converted to a Belfast equivalent time is one second faster than his brother's … Ryan Russell showed great improvement ... this season as he bettered his PR by almost a minute … Connor Robertson … almost broke the 18-minute mark as a freshman – a pretty big deal – clocking 18:03 at the Southern Maine Classic … Glory Blethen had yet another stellar season (winning) many races and (running) a season best of 20:40 at the Southern Maine Classic.”
Scott said Perkins’ mindset was the greatest contributing factor to his victory and to maintaining a position bested by no other Class C runner all season.
“There are a lot of impressive aspects about the last year of Will's preparation, but perhaps the most impressive of all was the confidence he had in his training,” said Scott. “Will has been unrelenting in his pursuit to be crowned state champion in cross country. The personal accountability that Will possesses is unlike that of any other athlete that I’ve coached … Will is one of those special cases that a coach rarely gets to experience. His focus, drive and follow through are impeccable.”
Perkins said his focus coming into the season was key to closing the gap between him and his fastest adversaries. Once he realized that gap was only about 10 seconds, he said it was like “a switch was flipped.”
“I made up my mind right then to train hard and stay regimented so I could get it done.”
States was a tough race, though, as course conditions were wet and slippery potentially making any mistake a game changer. Perkins said he saved some energy during the middle of his race and was relying on his kick at the end to maintain his distance.
“Mentally, I knew this was everything I had been working for and I had to win. There was no other result I was going to accept.”
His father Tom Perkins said there were no guarantees for Will winning the race given trail conditions and all athletes were determined to win. He went out fast gaining an early lead which he held for two miles, but he couldn’t shake Laviolette or Woodruff, his father said. “In fact, as the trio disappeared back into the woods for the final mile, they had pretty much pulled even.”
As the three emerged from the woods, Perkins hit a muddy patch at the bottom of a hill and spun out on a turn, his father said. The two runners-up were able to close the distance making it anybody’s race.
Laviolette managed to gain even more ground, but Will “turned on the jets for the final stretch” putting about six seconds between him and the rest of the runners.
Perkins said he had a deep sense of euphoria as he came to realize all the training and hard work over the past year had paid off. After crossing the finish line, Scott was the first to tackle him, he said. And he said friends from Lincoln Academy came off their bus to congratulate him.
“It was a powerful moment when everything I had worked so hard for was falling into place. It was really something.”
As the Seahawks and Wolverines posted their own impressive times and kept their team in Maine’s top five, the season came to an exciting close But there is still one more stop for Perkins: Manchester, Connecticut to participate in the New England Championships Nov. 9.
The Seahawks Cross Country Awards Night is at 6 p.m. Nov.13 in the BRHS library.