Championship glory in Eastern and Western Maine will be on the line Saturday as the state’s top schoolgirl cross country runners will line up in Belfast and Cumberland for their respective regional championship meets.
The Eastern Maine runners will compete at Belfast starting at 11 a.m. and the Western Maine harriers at Twin Brook Recreation Center, also at 11.
In Belfast, the Class A girls will open the meet while the Class B teams will race at 12:10 p.m. and the Class C squads at 1:20 p.m.
The Class A and B meets appear to be the most intriguing on paper, with the Class A competition mirroring last weekend’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships in Augusta and teams from the Penobscot Valley Conference and KVAC squaring off in Class B.
Class B: Mount Desert Island has been the class of this division for a while, having won three regional championships in succession.
In order to annex a fourth, coach Kate Goupee’s team will need to use the same pack power which earned it conference supremacy.
Senior Mackenzie Curtis has flourished in the lead-runner role for the Trojans this fall, while classmate Jessica Swanson, freshmen Dominique Hessert and Malia Demmers, juniors Kailyn Russell, Chelsey Curran and senior Frances Blank form a lethal pack.
The spread between the Trojans’ No. 1 and No. 5 girls at the PVC meet was 42 seconds.
MDI’s chief competition will likely come from fellow PVC heavyweight John Bapst.
The Crusaders are strong up front, led by Adrienne Carmack, Sarah Dickens and Laura Donovan.
Bapst did finish second at the prestigious Festival of Champions on this same course earlier this month, so coach Joe Capehart’s club hopes the fast 3.1-mile Belfast layout will provide more success.
Caribou, which has a solid 1-2 punch in Dayna Michaud and Mary-Jo Sheehan, is a possible wild-card.
Individually, Old Town junior Dacie Manion will look to continue a successful campaign after emerging victorious at the PVC meet last week. She’ll be challenged by Brianne Dunn of Ellsworth and Alecia Palmer of Presque Isle.
Class A: This race will feature the third battle in as many weeks between Mt. Blue of Farmington and Mount Ararat of Topsham, with both teams having won once.
Coach Diane Fournier’s Eagles, however, were victorious when it mattered most — at last weekend’s conference championships in Augusta — and they’ll look to make it 2-for-2 in the postseason.
KVAC Class A champ Kate Spies leads the Eagles’ flock, while Ariel McNett and Chloe Emerson have been running strong in the 2-3 holes this fall.
Mt. Blue counters with a top-flight runner of its own in Melody Lam, the defending individual Eastern Maine champion.
She finished third among Class A runners at the KVAC meet.
The Cougars have a formidable top three in Lam, Gwen Beachem and Addie Cullenberg — coach Kelly Cullenberg’s daughter — but Mt. Blue’s fourth and fifth runners will need to pack in tighter if the Cougars are to come out on top.
Defending regional champion Brewer and Bangor will both be seeking state meet berths.
The Witches earned a fourth-place finish at KVAC’s behind sophomore Sara Chavarie while the Rams are led by Rachel Huber, Kendall Lunn and Mariah Reading.
Spies, Lam, Chavarie and Kathleen McMahon of Brunswick are among the contenders for the top individual slot.
Class C: Reigning champ and PVC victor Orono appears primed for another run at regional glory.
The Red Riots overwhelmed their Class C competition at PVC’s last week, winning by 18 points and tucking all five scoring runners in the top 10.
Orono is led up front by Cassie Clemmer and Holli Kenison.
Contenders for the individual crown include Searsport’s Faith Mackey, the PVC champ, Bucksport’s Nelly Winship and Chelsie Oldfield of Foxcroft Academy, all sophomores.