While the Mount Desert Island and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln girls cross country teams will be in the running to defend their respective Eastern Maine regional crowns this weekend, Brewer is seeking its first since 1997.
The Witches, Trojans, Lynx and all their Class A, B and C foes will be gunning for regional glory Saturday at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast with girls races starting with the Class C squads at 11:35 a.m.
The Class A girls will race at 12:45 p.m. and Class B girls compete at 1:55 p.m.
In Class A, Brewer is riding plenty of momentum after winning the Mt. Blue Relays in Farmington two weeks ago and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet last week.
Sophomore Michelle Haluska ran to a strong third-place finish at the KVAC meet to lead the Witches to a six-point victory over Mt. Blue, and if Nos. 2 and 3 runners Kaitlin Noyes and Sara Chavarie can turn in strong performances as they did in the conference championships, the Witches will be tough to beat.
The Witches had a spread of 1 minute, 45 seconds between No. 1 Haluska and No. 5 runner Katie Snow at KVACs, and they’ll look to lower that figure this weekend.
Mt. Blue matches up very well with Brewer, and junior Melody Lam is favored to capture the individual crown.
The Cougars have also received solid production out of freshman Addie Cullenberg and sophomore Gwen Beacham.
They’ll need to get their fifth runner closer to that of Brewer’s to have a shot, as that was the difference a week ago.
Bangor, which finished fifth at KVACs, will try for another top-5 finish, and is led by Kendall Lunn, Rachel Huber, Joyce Belanger, Katie Porter and Mariah Reading.
Hampden Academy sophomore Blakelee Jordan should contend for a top-20 spot and an individual qualifying spot in the state championship meet.
In Class B, reigning champ MDI appears to be hitting its stride at just the right time, but John Bapst of Bangor and Caribou will look to knock the Trojans off their pedestal. These teams were separated by two points at the Penobscot Valley Conference championships.
All three teams are talented up front, with Heather Spurling leading MDI’s pack, Dayna Michaud pacing Caribou and Kim Spencer leading John Bapst.
The Trojans had the stronger pack last week, as their No. 5 girl finished ahead of both the Vikings’ and Crusaders’, and it’s a safe bet that this race will come down to that spot.
Freshman Sarah Dickens gives John Bapst another top-10 threat, while classmate Mary Carmack has been running strong in the No. 3 spot.
Having Saunders back in the lineup is a welcome sign for Vikes’ coach Thomas Beckum, and she ran tough at the PVC meet, finishing 11th. Her presence in the pack makes Caribou a surefire threat.
Spurling is a contender for the top individual spot, along with PVC champ Brianne Dunn of Ellsworth, Caribou’s Michaud, Presque Isle’s Alecia Palmer and Dacie Manion of Old Town.
KVAC champ Medomak Valley of Waldoboro should be in the mix as well.
In Class C, Mattanawcook is a good choice to earn its third consecutive regional title.
The Lynx are powered up front by the 1-2 punch of Jana Larlee and Hannah Ruhl, both seniors, while Katelyn DeRaps, Abby Paul and Erica McPhail all had productive races at PVCs out of the 3, 4 and 5 spots.
Foxcroft Academy’s Chelsie Oldfield has had an outstanding freshman campaign for the Ponies and could take the top individual spot, with MA’s Larlee and Grace Boutot of Fort Kent also contending.
Foxcroft, George Stevens of Blue Hill, Fort Kent and Orono could battle for second-place honors.