WELLS (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Both the boys and girls cross country teams at Wells High School were Western Maine conference champions for division two this year. Two runner who helped contribute to the boys win were Matt Chase and Noah McAvoy.
Cross country isn't just about running on level ground. If you're going to win, you have to be ready for those uphill battles. Chase and McAvoy know how to conquer the hills on the course and in life. They both started running in middle school, and they've both been living with autism for their entire lives.
"It's been like harder for me to learn things that for non-autistic kids it comes more naturally," said Chase. "Like learning to talk, or learning social skills."
McAvoy's form of autism is a bit more pronounced than Chase's. He has a difficult time communicating and sometimes as a hard time focusing on the cross country course, but with the help of coach Bob Winn, he's stayed focused on his goals.
"A life changer in a way that we have all benefited from seeing how they persevere with issues that they have to deal with. It's changed us all," said Winn.
With the two boy's help, the 11 member team became division two conference champions in Western Maine this year. Setting an example for their teammates, their coach, and their fans.
"It helps me like disassociate, like it helps me not to focus on the discomfort and keep running in spite of it," said Chase about his autism.
The boys cross country team at Wells placed 6th in their regional meet. That qualified them for the state championships where they placed 9th.