Deer Isle—Brendan Penfold is running hard this fall. The season is off to a good start, he said, and he placed sixth at the September 25 Seacoast Invitational at Sumner, less than a second behind runners in fourth and fifth.
As a rookie last year, Penfold received the Most Valuable Runner award and placed 54th out of 90 in the Class C state cross country competition, with a season-best time to boot. He had doubled up on fall sports, however, and was only able to compete in three meets, he said.
“Last year I was playing soccer. I tried to do both, but it didn’t work out that well,” Penfold said.
Deer Isle-Stonington High School runners participate in meets in a club capacity and do not technically have a team, Penfold said, although a handful of them qualify to compete at the varsity level. Penfold ran varsity in two meets last year and has continued in that category this fall.
Cross country appeals to Penfold because a runner always knows where he stands.
“It’s great to see yourself improve,” the sophomore said. “With a lot of sports you can’t see yourself improving, whereas in cross country, you can see your time going down.”
Penfold attended the Acadian Running Camp, run by Union 76 Director of Student Services O.J. Logue, over the summer and benefited greatly from it, he said. At camp, runners are placed in groups with others of comparable abilities, but in Penfold’s case, he quickly realized he was in a group with runners who clocked significantly more miles. While Penfold had run a six-mile distance, most of his fellow runners had doubled that, he said.
But Penfold managed to keep up with them, and he gradually extended his distances over the summer, working up to a 13-mile single run one week, he said.
While Penfold’s strategy during the season consists of hard training, in practices he focuses on developing speed rather than on longer distances. In meets, he chooses a faster opponent and tries to keep up with or overtake him, he said.
As far as the team is concerned, Penfold hopes it will grow.
“We’re definitely looking for more recruits,” he said.
As an individual, Penfold is gearing up for state.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how I do,” he said, adding, “There’s one guy who I’ve had in my sights for a while—maybe beating him.”
In addition to also playing tennis and basketball, Penfold competes on the school chess team, plays piano and recently began playing drums in the school band.
“I have a lot of stuff going on. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.