WALDOBORO — Medomak Valley High School senior Connor Daigle, perhaps, underestimated the significance of his state Class B individual cross-country championship victory.

“It didn’t hit me until a few days ago how big this meant to our school and the Midcoast community,” he said. “I mean, every time I walk into any public setting like a Hannaford or even a gas station I have someone congratulate me.”

As spectators line the course, Medomak Valley’s Connor Daigle rounds the final corner with the state race finish line ahead. Photo by Ken Waltz

Daigle was the fastest among a field of 103 runners in the Class B boys race on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. He finished the slippery, muddy course in 16:35.75.

The time was about 42 seconds slower than his regional championship at the same venue a week prior (15:53.52), but the conditions of the saturated state course after a steady week of rain considerably slowed the fastest and most talented high school runners in the state.

Medomak Valley’s Connor Daigle at the finish line. Photo by Ken Waltz

“I led the whole race, which is kind of surprising considering I fell down six different times,” he said. “I wanted to run under 15:40, but I underestimated how horrid the conditions were so I shifted my focus from running fast to just ‘settle for the win.’ ”

On the day, of the 321 male runners in Classes A, B and C, Daigle finished with the ninth fastest time. He also qualified for the New England championships on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Thetford Academy in Vermont.

“Connor deserves all of the success he has earned last spring and this fall,” said Medomak Valley athletic director Matt Lash. “He is extremely focused and goal-driven. I have been fortunate to witness countless athletes over the years who have just taken their commitment and work ethic to another level, but Connor’s planning and training regimen is second to none.”

Runner-up Logan Ouellette of Leavitt, left, puts his arm around Medomak Valley’s Connor Daigle after the state race. Photo by Ken Waltz

According to longtime Medomak Valley cross-country coach George Gould, Heather Fogg and Kara Karvounis are the only previous Panthers to capture individual state titles.

Daigle was deemed the favorite to win the state individual title as a junior in 2020, but COVID-19 ultimately threw a wrench into those plans.

Last fall, sports were suspended at Regional School Unit 40 for two weeks — and, ultimately, as it turned out, for the rest of that season — after multiple individuals tested positive for coronavirus.

That meant the cross-country team would not be permitted to participate in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championships, and thus, would not get the opportunity to qualify for the state championships.

It ultimately did not matter as the state championships were canceled.

Medomak Valley’s Connor Daigle eyes the finish line at the state race. Photo by Ken Waltz; illustration by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Daigle, who trains 80 miles per week, frankly, felt “robbed.” But he harnessed that energy and turned it into a positive, a motivator and a state title in the 3,200 meters in the spring and, ultimately, a state title in cross country.

Of course, Daigle has no intentions of sitting on his laurels. He now has his sights on the 1,600- and 3,200-meter state titles in indoor track this winter and outdoor track in the spring.

“Time for four more,” he said. “I want six.”

“The scary thing is he still has more goals he wants to achieve in track,” said Lash. “From what I have seen, there is nothing holding him back from obtaining them.”

Daigle’s running prowess also caught the attention of many collegiate cross-country coaches since his junior year and, on Nov. 3, he announced his intentions to attend the University of Maine in Orono and join the Division I Black Bear cross-country team.

To think he is making running sub-5-minute miles look easy when he will only get better competing against Div. I runners next fall is scary,” Lash said. “Coach Gould has always said when it comes to running, you just have to love it and want it. There is no question the love Connor has for his sport is next-level.”

Daigle said he wanted to stay in the Northeast and find a school that fit his academic and athletic needs. And UMaine fit the bill. Daigle said he received potential scholarship opportunities from five National Collegiate Athletic Association Div. I and three Div. II schools, but UMaine “made the most sense.”

“It’s in my home state. I love Maine,” he said. “It met my academic needs and financially it was the best option. UMaine might have not been the flashiest school I could’ve went to, but I am proud and excited that I will be furthering my academic and athletic career in Orono next fall.”

Daigle, who also broke a four-decade-old school 3,200-meter mark in spring track last year (9:48.37, to better the previous mark by Stacy Bryant of 9:56.80 in 1982), said for younger, aspiring runners, there is no “magic number of miles it takes to win.”

“Running is a unique sport,” he said. “Different things can work for different people. It just takes willingness to put in the miles, track workouts, core, lifts, and plyometric drills to get there. If you really love the sport and love training hard every day, you should get to where you want to be.”