Maine Transgender Cross Country Runner Wins Girls’ Class C Regional Meet

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One of the best high girls’ cross country runners in Maine is a male.

Soren Stark-Chessa, a sophomore at Maine Coast Waldorf School, recently won the Southern Maine Class C Regional meet. Stark-Chessa came in first place out of 83 competitors at the October 20 meet, according to Class C features the smallest schools of the three divisions in the Maine Principal’s Association in girls’ cross country. 

Stark-Chessa finished the 5,000-meter course in 19:17.8; it was 1:22 faster than the runner-up, Grace Alexander (20:40.29) from Waynflete, a private school in Portland.

Had Stark-Chessa competed on the boys’ side at this meet, the runner would have finished in 11th place out of 103 competitors. 

Stark-Chessa is new to competing on the girls’ side this year. As a freshman in 2022, Stark-Chessa competed on the boys’ side, and never finished higher than 14th place in any given meet, according to However, most competitors who finished ahead of Stark-Chessa in those meets were older. 

Waldorf School athletic director Susan Sonntag defended Stark-Chessa’s participation on the girls’ team.

“We support all our students at Maine Coast Waldorf School, and are proud that our students are given the opportunity to participate in all of our school programs,” Sonntag said in a statement. “Additionally, MCWS adheres to the Maine Statute, Title 5, §4602 ‘Unlawful educational discrimination’ which is further supported by Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) policy.”

The Maine Principals’ Association allows student-athletes to participate on teams based on their self-selected gender identity, according to the Gender Equity and Inclusion Policy in its 2022-23 handbook.

“The MPA is committed to maximizing the opportunities for all students to participate in interscholastic activities and athletics, regardless of their gender identity or expression,” the policy says.

“At the same time, the MPA is committed to ensuring fair competition and adequate protection of student athletes,” the police continues. “Consistent with its principles, the MPA believes that all students should have the opportunity to participate in MPA activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, unless such participation would result in an unfair athletic advantage or would present an unacceptable risk of injury to other student athletes.”

Maine conservative activist Shawn McBreairty was the person first to report on Stark-Chessa’s transgender status.

Maine Coast Waldorf is a small private school in Freeport, Maine; it serves 268 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Freeport, Maine is a town of about 8,800 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is about 17 miles northeast of Portland.

Stark-Chessa is one of a few known active male runners to excel on a girls’ team in New England.

For example, Brookline High girls’ track runner Chloe Barnes helped the school win the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 state championship during the winter 2022-2023 season; Barnes had a fourth-place finish in the 55-meter dash. Barnes was a junior at the time.

In New Hampshire, Kearsarge Regional High School outdoor track runner Maelle Jacques finished second (5:32.29) in the 1,600-meter run at the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 state championship meet in May 2023. Jacques was a freshman at the time.

The school is in Sutton, about 23 miles northwest of Concord, the state capital.


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