Caribou leads strong Class B divisions

Posted Sept. 03, 2008, at 9:45 p.m.

Summer’s nearly over — although it’s hard to tell given the recent July-and-August-like conditions.

However, it’s only a matter of time before “cross country weather” sets in for the state’s high school runners.

With a plethora of preseason meets having been contested this week, here’s a look at how things in Eastern Maine might play out this fall.

Let the prognosticating begin with the girls.

Class A: The Brewer Witches are the heavy favorite in this division.

Coach Glendon Rand returns all seven runners from a team which earned runner-up honors in the KVAC and Eastern Maine championship meets and a third in the state championship meet.

The Witches welcome promising freshmen Sara Chavarie and Mikaela King into the mix.

They have one of the state’s top young runners up front in sophomore Michelle Haluska, and Katie Snow, head of a strong senior class, should be near the front of the pack as well, along with classmate Kaitlin Noyes, who comes into the season in tip-top shape.

Rand’s other returnees are seniors Ashley Geiser, Brooke Madden, Caitlyn Wilson and junior Bekah Clark.

The Witches have all the tools to be successful this fall, a strong frontrunner and a very formidable pack.

Brunswick and Mt. Blue of Farmington are contenders, but in the end, Brewer has just too much up front and in the pack. They should be considered a state championship contender.

Regional champion: Brewer

Class B: This is the more intriguing class of the bunch, and for good reason.

The three favorites, Caribou, Mount Desert Island and John Bapst of Bangor mirror each other very well. All three teams have excellent frontrunners (Caribou’s Hannah Saunders, MDI’s Heather Spurling, Bapst’s Kim Spencer), and formidable packs behind them.

MDI is the three-time defending regional champion, and will be in contention again this year.

Along with Spurling, the Trojans return their entire lineup from last year. And the scary thing is, that lineup was young a year ago, so they’ll be much improved.

Caribou is very motivated after coming a point shy of taking home hardware at the regional meet last fall, finishing third, and with lead runner Saunders being the only senior in coach Thomas Beckum’s pack, this is a team, along with MDI, to be reckoned with for years to come.

Spencer should have another strong campaign for Bapst, and Maggie Bryan will look to build on a solid freshman season.

It’s a tough call, but whoever has the better pack prevails.

Regional champion: Caribou

Class C: Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln has dominated the Class C ranks the last couple years, and since they graduated only one runner from their regional championship team from a year ago, they should be considered the favorites.

OK, so that graduated runner was individual regional champ Renee LaFlamme, but the Lynx have a strong contingent of returnees, led by seniors Jana Larlee and Hannah Ruhl.

Fort Kent, led by Grace Boutot, returns a strong team and could give the Lynx a run for their money. It all comes down to the fifth runner.

Regional champion: Mattanawcook.

Now, on to the boys.

Class A: This is the toughest one to figure out, as a number of teams and individuals could emerge from the pack.

Defending regional and state champ Lewiston lost two top runners — Mohammed Noor to graduation and Sadam Abdi, who moved — but the Blue Devils return a solid nucleus led by Matt Driscoll and Robbie Leeman.

Brewer and Hampden Academy both earned state-meet berths last fall, and could both contend for top-five slots.

Brewer has a solid 1-2-3-4 punch in juniors Evan Taylor, Andrew Cote, Kyle Holyoke and Steven Rice.

The Broncos feature one of the region’s top young runners in Evan Piccirillo, a sophomore.

Mt. Blue of Farmington and Brunswick should challenge Lewiston, but the Blue Devils get a slight nod. However, as we all know, anything can happen between now and then.

Regional champion: Lewiston

Class B: Caribou and Ellsworth have had a strong, friendly rivalry this decade, and come regional time, these two teams are on everyone’s radar.

In fact, these two teams have won all but two of the Eastern Maine ‘B’ titles dating back to 1999 (MDI in 2002-03).

Four-time reigning champ Ellsworth will have to replace its top three runners.

Caribou only graduated two seniors, and as always, coach Roy Alden will always have his crew ready when championship time rolls around.

The Vikings have traditionally been dominant early in the season, but if they can sustain a strong level of fitness throughout the course of the year, there’s no doubt they could emerge from this always-tough division.

Ellsworth will be right there, but Caribou seems to have the horses and pack power to bring a title back to the County.

Regional champion: Caribou

Class C: Foxcroft Academy has won the last two Eastern Maine titles, and coach George Rolleston’s Ponies have the horses (no pun intended) to gallop to a third.

FA fields one of the region’s top runners, regardless of class, in Graham Pearsall, a junior, and won last year’s regional crown with a strong pack behind him.

Foxcroft didn’t graduate a single runner from that team, so they get the slight nod here. Mattanawcook Academy will provide a formidable challenge.

Regional champion: Foxcroft

Enjoy the races. It’ll be November before we know it.

rmclaughlin@bangordailynews.net

990-8193

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