Varsity Cross Country
Thornton Academy cross country celebrates its 75th anniversary during the 2019 fall season. In 1944, H. Francis Griffith started the first boys program and guided the Golden Trojans to a record of four wins against two losses. The first girls team was sponsored in 1970. Today the high school program competes against other schools in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association (SMAA) and Class A South. In 2008 Thornton Academy Middle School (TAMS) fielded its first boys and girls cross country teams, both of which compete in the Southern Maine Middle School Athletic Conference.
Cross country is distance running with a challenging twist. The sport involves participants competing in a race of up to five kilometers over a variety of terrain, including fields, wooded trails, asphalt, and outdoor track surfaces. The top five finishers for each competing school score points with their place numbers designating the number of points earned. The school with the lowest overall team score is declared the winner of the meet.
A number of outstanding distance runners have donned a Thornton Academy singlet and have earned honors for the Maroon and Gold. In 1957, Thornton Academy Hall of Famer Bryce Roberts became the school’s first regional champion, a feat that was duplicated by Conrad Sastre in 1994 and Ryan Cadorette in 2013. Ben Rumery was a three-time SMAA all-star and was selected to the Maine Sunday Telegram All-State Team in 2005. Grace Glynn was also a three-time SMAA all-conference performer and earned all-state honors in 2009. More recently, Katie LeBlanc was named an all-conference runner in all four years that she competed (2012-2015) before becoming a collegiate running standout at the University of Maine at Farmington.
The Thornton Academy cross country program has also boasted some outstanding coaches who have guided the fortunes of the Golden Trojans. The legendary Dominic DiBiase from 1961-1970 and was followed in that role by longtime coach Dick Parker. The winningest coach in Thornton Academy cross country history was Paul Mondor, who coached the boys program from 1984-2006 and the girls team from 1990-2006. Mondor’s boys teams had an overall record of 181-118 with 12 state championship meet appearances and an SMAA championship in 1994. His girls squads posted a mark of 168-52, including 13 state championship meet appearances and four regional runner-up trophies.
The typical Thornton Academy cross country season consists of a series of regular season meets against SMAA competition, as well as selected invitational events, such as the annual Fleet Feet Classic in Gorham. For postseason purposes, the Golden Trojans are grouped in the Class A South region; the top teams in the annual regional championship earn an opportunity to compete in the Class A state championship meet.
All practices and home meets take place at the Thornton Academy athletic facility and the nearby Eastern Trail, a recreational pathway that abuts the school’s Saco campus. Participation in Thornton cross country is a five-day per week commitment. Generally workouts take place on Monday through Thursday of each week with meets scheduled for Friday afternoons. Thornton Academy Middle School (TAMS) cross country typically begins after Labor Day and runs for an eight-week period.
Thornton Academy cross country is open to all interested participants, regardless of their level of experience. The top seven performers on the boys and girls teams are selected to participate in regional and state championship events.