Ellsworth High School and Cony High School in Augusta will be overrun with cross country competitors on Saturday as they serve as the host sites for conference championship meets.
Penobscot Valley Conference runners will converge on Ellsworth, where large-school and small-school titles and individual crowns will be contested. The varsity boys race kicks off the event at noon, with the varsity girls scheduled for a 12:40 p.m. gun.
The JV races will be at 1:30 and 2:10 for boys and girls, respectively.
In Augusta, competitors from the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference get together with championships up for grabs in Classes A and B. The varsity boys open the meet at 11 a.m., with the girls slated to run at 11:45 a.m.
The PVC meet brings together representatives from 17 schools. Among the large schools, the Ellsworth boys and the Mount Desert Island girls appear to be the teams to beat.
The Eagles boast the state’s fastest 5K runner this fall in junior Dan Curts, who has run a season-best time of 15 minutes, 42 seconds. He has won the previous two PVC individual titles.
Ellsworth has another top performer in junior Robert Looker (16:50).
Defending champ Caribou, John Bapst of Bangor and MDI are among the other boys contenders.
MDI, the defending PVC, Eastern Maine and state Class B champion, is the prohibitive favorite in the large-school girls meet. The Trojans are the top-ranked team in the state, regardless of class.
Junior Maggie Painter, seeded at 19:19.05, leads the charge for MDI, which also features juniors Olivia Erickson and Isabel Erickson.
Caribou, led by Mackenzie Belyea, also has a solid contingent.
Among the small schools, Bangor Christian and Orono should be vying for the boys team title. The defending champion Patriots’ mainstays include Dylan Merchant (17:21.58 seed time), along with Sam Proctor and Zac Palmeter.
Tyler White (16:41.74) is the frontrunner for the Red Riots. His supporting cast includes Schulyer Collett and Brian Westhoven.
The road to the PVC small-school girls title is expected to go through Orono. The Red Riots won in 2011 and have again assembled a formidable squad that is led by sophomore Lily Koffman (19:56.94), the No. 2-ranked Class C runner in the state.
Jordan Richards and Emilie Seavey are other leaders for Orono.
George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill also has run well this season.
Chasing Koffman for individual accolades will be freshmen Natalie Coleman of Bucksport and Venessa Twombley of Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln.
In Augusta, senior Jon Stanhope (16:24.61) is the top-seeded individual as he tries to help the Bangor boys give Lewiston a run for its money in the Class A meet.
The Blue Devils are expected to be the team to beat with Mohamed Barre (16:37.42), Mohamed Mohamed and Isaiah Harris providing the impetus. However, the Rams (Colin Glencross) and Mt. Blue of Farmington (Justin Tracy, Josh Horne) could have something to say about the outcome.
Hampden Academy’s Nick Kopf is seeded eighth in the race.
The Class A girls will be trying to keep up with Erzy Nagy of Lawrence High in Fairfield, whose seed time of 18:33.71 is more than 1:17 ahead of the next fastest individual, Kylee Parker of Hampden Academy (19:51.42).
However, Parker and the Broncos have a shot to claim the team crown with Elizabeth Labun and Sarah Tatgenhorst also among the 10 fastest runners in the event.
Hampden will have to run well as Mount Ararat of Topsham, paced by Kelly Lynch (20:21.35), and Brunswick (Tessa Cassidy, 19:54.43) are well within striking distance.
The KVAC Class B girls race features the state’s fastest cross country runner in Waterville’s Bethanie Brown, whose seed time of 17:56.71 is 1:07 better than No. 2 individual Brittany Bowman of Camden Hills (19:03.82).
Bowman and the Windjammers are the team to beat, as they have five runners seeded in the top nine, including Bowman, No. 6 Emily Lopez, No. 7 Sam Morse, No. 8 Hanna Brownwell and No. 9 Jacqueline Russell.
Waterville and Maranacook of Readfield, led by Caroline Colan, are the closest competitors, while Abby Hersom of Oceanside High in Thomaston and Molly Schassberger of Winslow are top-five individuals.
The Class B boys race tilts toward Maranacook and pace-setters Jason Stevenson and Austin Landry. Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, Winslow, Morse and Waterville are tightly bunched in the Nos. 2-5 spots.
Ben Trapani of Camden Hills (16:36.11) is the No. 1 individual seed, followed by Chris Cote of Waterville (17:04.92) and Nick Shuckrow of Winslow (17:07.03).