The Caribou boys and John Bapst girls cross country teams will be favorites to defend their Class B regional championships Saturday, as Eastern Maine’s best teams and individuals will converge in Belfast for regional supremacy.
Races begin at 11 a.m.
The Vikings and Crusaders from Bangor both won the PVC meet in resounding fashion and both squads were ranked third in the most recent coaches’ poll.
Caribou features one of the state’s top individuals in senior Christian Sleeper, but more importantly, he has a lethal pack of D.J. Flynn, Jake Michaud, Jesse Sandstrom and Ryan Washington behind him, and the difference between coach Roy Alden’s No. 1 and 5 runners last weekend was under a minute.
The Vikings won’t be without challengers, including Hampden Academy, which won its second straight KVAC title last weekend.
The Broncos’ Evan Piccirillo is among the individual contenders, while Ethan Burke and Andrew Closson also earned top-10 finishes at the KVAC meet.
Ellsworth could mount a challenge as well, with freshman Dan Curts having torn up the trails in Eastern Maine throughout the season, as he was the individual PVC champ and will be among the favorites against his Eastern Maine brethren this weekend.
The John Bapst girls had a trio of top-three finishers last weekend in sisters Adrienne Carmack and Mary Carmack and Amanda Lalime, and were second at the Festival of Champions meet on the Belfast course earlier this month.
The Crusaders’ chief challengers will likely be Hampden, the KVAC champ, and MDI, the PVC runner-up.
The Broncos’ top runner is sophomore Kylee Parker, who was third last weekend. The Trojans are young with six freshmen, but are loaded with potential.
Individually, Dacie Manion of Old Town is undefeated against Eastern Maine competitors this fall, and will be seeking her second straight Class B individual title.
Manion will be challenged by Alecia Palmer of Presque Isle, Brianne Dunn and Aleta Looker of Ellsworth, the Carmack sisters from Bapst and Hampden’s Parker.
In Class A, the Mount Ararat girls are heavy favorites while the boys’ meet is a tossup between the Eagles from Topsham, Edward Little of Auburn and Mt. Blue of Farmington.
On the girls’ side, the Brewer Witches, who were sixth in KVACs, will be seeking a state meet berth and are led by a solid 1-2 punch of Michelle Haluska and Sara Chavarie.
Haluska was ninth in the KVAC meet.
Bangor’s top runner at KVAC’s was Allie Rowe
On the boys’ side, Bangor was seventh and Brewer eighth in the team rankings last weekend, so both have a shot to sneak into the state meet if they run well.
The Rams are led by Jonathan Belanger and Jon Stanhope while Brewer’s top man is John Herlihy.
And in Class C, Orono and Bangor Christian won the respective girls and boys meets in PVC’s last weekend.
The Patriots, who have five runners who also play on the school’s soccer team, are led up front by Brad Wilcox, the No. 4 individual in PVC’s last weekend.
BC will be challenged by Orono, the PVC runner-up. The Red Riots feature a lethal top man in Alex Bulteel, who was second individually in the conference meet.
For the girls, Foxcroft Academy’s Chelsie Oldfield is the favorite for the individual crown while Orono, the defending regional champion, is sparked by top runner Rowan Wilson.
Lee Academy and Bucksport could be team contenders as well.