When the Caribou High School boys cross country team won the 2010 Class B state championship, it was a breakthrough not only for the program but for Eastern Maine.
Not since Ellsworth won the title 12 years earlier had an Eastern Maine boys cross country team won it all in Class B, and not since 1938 had a Caribou boys team celebrated a state championship in the sport.
But while the top two runners from that team have graduated, the returning runners — who have led the Vikings to Penobscot Valley Conference and Eastern Maine Class B titles the last two weekends — believe their experience in delivering a stunning blow to Western Maine’s dominance of the division will be beneficial as Caribou seeks a second straight state championship on Saturday.
“Winning last year helps you to prepare better this year more than anything else,” said Caribou senior Caleb Chapman, whose fourth-place finish at last Saturday’s regional meet in Belfast helped the Vikings edge second-place Ellsworth by four points, 55-59. “You have that sense of relaxation from knowing that you know what it takes to win. You don’t have that big question mark because you know you can do it because we did it last year.”
This year’s state championship meet will be held at the Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.
Competition begins in Class C with the girls race at 11 a.m. and the boys at 11:45. The Class A girls follow at 12:30 p.m., followed by the Class A boys at 1:15, the Class B girls at 2:30 and the Class B boys at 3:15.
Chapman is one of four Caribou runners who ran in last year’s Class B boys state meet and helped the Vikings edge Falmouth 92-100 for the state championship. Other veterans of that title run were current seniors Jesse Sandstrom and Kjetil Rossignol and sophomore Ryan Washington.
That group teamed with juniors Ron Lund and Brendan Wood and sophomore Lucas Kinney to lead coach Roy Alden’s club to this year’s conference and regional titles.
The Vikings are hopeful of another strong finish at states, though Falmouth is considered a strong favorite after dominating the Western Maine regional while Ellsworth, Cape Elizabeth, York, Freeport and Greely of Cumberland Center, the host school, all should be formidable.
“The team has the same spirit as last year,” said Lund. “We all have the same drive to succeed and the drive to keep trying. We have some different people, but we’re all one team.”
THE CLASS B girls meet could come down to a rematch of last week’s Eastern Maine battle between Camden Hills of Rockport and Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor. Camden Hills edged MDI by a single point to avenge a loss to the Trojans at the Festival of Champions meet in Belfast on Oct. 1, and the teams are ranked 2-3 in the current statewide coaches poll.
Greely, Falmouth, York and Cape Elizabeth should be the top Western Maine challengers in the “B” girls field.
IN CLASS A, the Bangor boys hope to build on the momentum gained from winning the program’s first Eastern Maine championship in 11 years last week, but defending state champion Scarborough is considered the heavy favorite to repeat. Mount Ararat of Topsham, second to Bangor at the regionals after edging the Rams a week earlier at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet, will be another contender from the East.
The Cheverus of Portland girls, ranked No. 1 statewide in the coaches poll, also will be favored to win Class A gold, though Massabesic of Waterboro lost to the Stags by just six points at the Western Maine regional. Mount Ararat and Brunswick are the top Eastern Maine teams.
IN CLASS C, the defending champion North Yarmouth Academy boys and Merriconeag Waldorf School of Freeport girls are expected to repeat as race winners after dominating their competition at the Western Maine regionals.
The Eastern Maine champion Washburn girls, many of whom will play in an EM Class D soccer semifinal Friday, will be led by sophomore Carsyn Koch, who will seek to win her second straight individual state title. Orono should be another contender from the East.
Two-time reigning Eastern C champion Bangor Christian hopes to challenge western powers NYA and Waynflete of Portland in the boys race. Like the Washburn girls, most of the Bangor Christian runners will play in an Eastern D soccer semifinal Friday.
The Patriots’ cross country team hopes to regain the services of senior Bradley Wilcox, who was sidelined for the PVC and Eastern Maine meets due to a leg injury but returned to the soccer field Wednesday with three goals — giving him 101 for his career — and an assist during Bangor Christian’s 6-1 quarterfinal victory over Shead of Eastport.