High school cross country’s second season will get underway this weekend with various conference championship meets around the state.
The conference championships are precursors for the regional title meets scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26, with the Eastern Maine meet at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast and the Western Maine meet at the Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.
The state championship meet follows Nov. 2, also at the Twin Brook Recreation Area.
The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Penobscot Valley Conference will crown their team and individual champions Saturday, with the KVACs at Cony High School in Augusta and the PVCs at Hermon High School.
The PVCs will feature nine schools competing in the large-school division and 10 schools in the small-school ranks, with the Ellsworth boys and Mount Desert Island girls the defending large-school champs, while the Orono boys and girls swept the small-school titles in 2012.
The Ellsworth boys and MDI girls are favored to repeat their championship efforts. Ellsworth may be without defending Class B individual state champion and PVC champ Dan Curts, who has been hampered in recent weeks by a hamstring injury that forced him to drop out of the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions in Belfast two weekends ago.
The veteran Eagles boast considerable depth, however, with Robert Looker and Brayden Beardsley both earning top-15 finishes at the FOC.
MDI, the two-time defending Class B state championship, is the state’s top-ranked girls team regardless of class this fall after winning the Festival of Champions for the third straight year.
Ellsworth senior Aleta Looker is the defending PVC girls’ individual champion.
At the KVACs, the Lewiston boys and Mount Ararat of Topsham girls are the defending Class A champions, while the Camden Hills of Rockport girls and Maranacook of Readfield boys are the reigning Class B champions.
Lewiston, the defending Eastern A champion and top-ranked team statewide this season, is coming off an impressive team victory at the Festival of Champions during which the time gap among the Blue Devils’ top five runners was just 34.23 seconds.
Bangor and Mt. Blue of Farmington may be Lewiston’s chief rivals for the boys title, with Bangor coming off a victory last week at the Mt. Blue Relays where the Rams edged the host Cougars by less than a half-second to win the collectively timed event.
Brunswick is the top-ranked girls team in the KVAC field.