When the gun is fired signaling the start of Saturday’s state Class B boys cross country championships, the Caribou Vikings will find themselves in a position they haven’t been in since 2000: Eastern Maine champions.
The spotlight will be on coach Roy Alden’s Vikings and several of Eastern and Western Maine’s top teams and runners as they toe the line at Belfast’s Troy Howard Middle School.
The Class C boys get things going at 11 a.m., followed by the girls 45 minutes later; the Class A boys run at 12:30 p.m., then the girls at 1:15, with the Class B boys at 2 and the girls at 2:45.
Class B: The Vikings have had some success on this level of late, as they earned runner-up honors in last year’s state meet.
Caribou has one of the top packs around, and the spread between their No. 1 and No. 5 runners was a narrow 38 seconds, which paved the way to their Eastern regional title.
The Vikes are led up front by seniors Jesse Stephens and Steve Melbourne, both of whom earned top-10 finishes at regionals. Rounding out Alden’s top five are Finn Bondeson, Christian Sleeper and Tim Freme.
Caribou will have to contend with a tough Greely of Cumberland Center team which was ranked atop the coaches’ poll earlier this fall.
Coach Dave Dowling’s Rangers won the state title handily last year and have their top two runners, James LePage and Logan Price, back from that squad.
Those two have complemented Mark McCauley soundly up front.
Matt Rand of Cape Elizabeth, Alex Moser of York, Sam Seekins of Erskine Academy and Ben Chapman of Ellsworth are some of the top individuals.
Class A: Cheverus of Portland came on strong in winning the Western Maine crown in a close bout with Scarborough, and both squads have defending state champ Lewiston to think about.
Don’t think coach Roy Putnam’s EM champion Blue Devils are going to surrender their crown without a fight.
Lewiston has as tough a 1-2-3 punch you’ll find in the state in Robbie Leeman, Matt Driscoll and Hussain Ibrahim.
The Stags will counter with the tandem of Jack Terwilliger and Andrew Snyder, who finished 2-3 at regionals. Scarborough is led by WM individual champ Nate Hathaway.
Bangor’s Sam Nisbett, who finished 10th at regionals, is seeking another strong run while Evan Piccirillo and Michael Bommarito comprise Hampden Academy’s top two.
Class C: While Foxcroft Academy is hoping the third time is the charm at states as Eastern Maine champs, Boothbay Region is looking to piece together the final chapter of a Cinderella season.
The West champ Seahawks, seeking their first state title — boys or girls — in program history, have a strong top four in Zach Campbell, Matt Forgues, Nate Schwehm and Chase Brown.
Eastern Maine individual champ Graham Pearsall is the Ponies’ lead horse.
Hall-Dale of Farmingdale’s Wade Davis is favored to capture the individual crown while other top Eastern Maine runners include Michael Rioux of Stearns of Millinocket, Brandon Theriault of Schenck in East Millinocket and Calais’ Ryan Cavanaugh.