When the Caribou High School boys set off on the long voyage that is the cross country season, one of the Vikings’ goals was to bring the Eastern Maine Class B championship back to Aroostook County.
Caribou is one step away from making the dream a reality as they’ll look to break Ellsworth’s three-year stranglehold on the title at Saturday’s Eastern Maine regional championships at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.
Action starts at 11 a.m. with the Class C boys race, followed by the C girls at 11:35, Class A boys at 12:10 p.m., Class A girls at 12:45 p.m., Class B boys at 1:20 p.m. and Class B girls at 1:55 p.m.
The top half of the scoring teams in each class along with the top 20 individuals in Classes A and B and the top 30 in C will earn berths in the state championship meet, also in Belfast.
In Class B, coach Roy Alden’s Vikings made another big stride toward their EM title goal in annexing the Penobscot Valley Conference title last weekend.
Caribou exhibited great pack power in doing so, as the 1-through-5 punch of Jesse Stephens, Steve Melbourne, Tim Freme, Finn Bondeson and Christian Sleeper finished 3-4-6-7-8.
If the Vikings can repeat that success this weekend, they will be tough to stop as those five runners provide incredible depth. Jake Michaud and Chris Nadeau have been solid in the 6 and 7 spots.
Ellsworth is led by PVC individual champ Ben Chapman who, along with Erskine Academy of South China’s Sam Seekins and Gabe Stewart of John Bapst of Bangor, should contend for individual honors.
The Eagles will need to get their fifth runner closer to their Nos. 3 and 4 men to have a shot.
Mount Desert Island, powered by True Muzzy, Sam Swan and Peter Logue, ran well at the PVC meet and should be among the top five teams.
In Class A, while defending regional and state champion Lewiston is a clear favorite in the team competition, the battle for the top individual spot is certainly a tossup.
Brunswick junior Will Geoghegan was the highest finisher at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships, and he’ll be challenged by Jason Kaake of Morse in Bath, Edward Little of Auburn’s Tyler Gammon, Cony of Augusta’s Luke Fontaine and Robbie Leeman of Lewiston.
Leeman, along with Matt Driscoll, give coach Roy Putnam a formidable 1-2 punch, while Faisal Abdillahi and Hussain Ibrahim have flourished in the Nos. 3 and 4 spots.
Hampden Academy finished a strong third at the KVAC meet, led by top runners Evan Piccirillo and Michael Bommarito.
Andrew Brown and Greg O’Donnell had solid KVAC races for coach Dick Balentine’s Broncos.
Evan Taylor is Brewer’s top runner and Sam Nisbett heads Bangor, and both teams will be vying for state-meet berths.
In Class C, Foxcroft Academy has won the last two regional crowns, and the Ponies have the horses to cruise to a third.
Graham Pearsall, a senior, is coach George Rolleston’s lead runner and a favorite to earn top individual honors. He was the top Class C finisher at the PVC championships.
The Ponies are also sparked by Chris Bridges, Kaleb Mann, Amos Almy and Seth Oldfield.
Other top-5 contenders include Stearns of Millinocket’s Michael Rioux, Brandon Theriault of Schenck in East Millinocket and Mattanawcook of Lincoln’s Matt Guiod.