Ever since MDI High School was formed 50 years ago, with the consolidation of Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor High Schools, there have been a lot of championship teams. But the 1st ever State Championship Team belonged to the 1972 Boys Cross Country Team. There will be a reunion and brief ceremony this Friday, June 25th at 12 Noon on the Village Green in Bar Harbor.

Photo Larry Allen
Photo Larry Allen

Thanks to Larry Allen who submitted the following

The fall of 1971 was the 3rd year after the high schools in Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor were merged to form Mt. Desert Island High School. It was also the first year that a Cross Country team from the new high school qualified to compete in the state championship meet. It didn’t go particularly well. The MDI finished in last place.

A year later a new group of runners from the island were on a mission, to qualify for the state meet again but also to do better.

Oh did they do better… under the tutelage of Coach Howard B. Richard Jr., the MDI team compiled a 35-1 record against high school competition in Maine. Losing by a single point to the University of Maine JV team, champions of Hancock County and Penobscot Valley Conference.  Winners of the Eastern Maine Regional and ultimately a dominant win in the State Class B Championship, by an unprecedented 84 points, against the 2 time defending champions from Gorham…after being given a “dark horse chance at best” to win in a press preview.

The team went from last to first in a year. The first state championship in any sport by the new high school on the Island. A dismayed opposing coach at the awards ceremony following the dominant championship win of the MDI team was heard muttering to himself, “What’s an MDI?”

And it wasn’t over…the team unexpectedly qualified to represent Maine in the New England Championships and went on to finish in 8th place against the 23 best teams from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.  Two members of the team, Brian Murphy and Doug Graves, earned All New England Honors for their stellar individual finishes.

The reunion next Friday will be the first time all 7 members of the 1972 MDI team have all been together since an end of season pizza party 49 years ago.  Plans had long been in the works for a 50th anniversary reunion in 2022.  Two members of the team have sadly been diagnosed with cancer in the past year, one asked that we move the reunion up a year. So, it’s become the “Almost 50th anniversary reunion.” of the team and it too will wrap up with another pizza party, at a restaurant adjacent to the Village Green.

Members of the team are traveling from as far as London, San Francisco, Minneapolis and New York City for the occasion.

The varsity team will be joined at the reunion by another half dozen from the 1972 JV team, Bunky Dow, the MDI Athletic Director, Aaron Long, the coach of current state championship winning MDI track team and of course friends, family and supporters of the ‘72 team.

Bunky Dow is expected to present the team with their state championship trophy and the first banner to mark a championship, one that has hung on the gym wall at the high school for all of these years.

Epilogue: In the succeeding 49 years, the MDI Cross Country and Track teams became one of the best in Eastern Maine and ultimately have gone on to win 16 state championships. The  traditions and successes of the runners and teams over the decades has been referred to as “the long green line”, the reunion of the 1972 team will honor the boys that were the beginnings of that line.

Several runners from the 1972 team went on to compete collegiately.   Three members of this team have been individually inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame, which is believed to be more individuals than from any other high school much less from a single team.

Members of the 1972 MDI XC team
Brian Murphy ‘74
Doug Graves ‘73
Mark Carter ‘74
Larry Allen ‘73
Barry Fernald ‘76
Eddie McFarland ‘74
Steve Davis ‘74

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