OLD TOWN — With Saturday marking the last time she’ll ever race on her home course, Dacie Manion wanted to do something special.
The Old Town High School senior was every bit impressive in the Sectional Cross Country Invitational, as she tore up her home 3.1-mile course en route to the girls’ individual title in 19 minutes, 25.74 seconds.
Manion, the reining Class B regional individual champ, pulled away from John Bapst’s Adrienne Carmack and Alecia Palmer of Presque Isle over the last mile after the three were stride-for-stride early in the race, but that was just fine with Manion.
“I don’t like running all by myself, it gets kind of nerve-wracking,” she said. “I felt good though, I felt really good this race and I’m feeling good now.”
Carmack finished second and Palmer third.
Manion nearly broke the course record of 19:23.59 that Heather Spurling set in 2007, but she’ll settle for her second straight Sectional title, especially since she’s in better shape than at this point last fall.
“I think I’m running a lot faster than I did last season. It’s going really well,” she said.
Caleb Chapman of Caribou won the individual title on the boys’ side in 17:13.03 while the team titles went to the Caribou boys and John Bapst girls.
Coach Roy Alden’s Caribou Vikings, the two-time defending Eastern Maine champions, tucked all five of its scorers in the top 10 en route to scoring 20 points while John Bapst was second among seven scoring teams with 58 points.
Rounding out the top five were MDI with 86, Presque Isle with 99 and Old Town with 103.
The Vikings looked every bit like defending regional champions and a team looking for a three-peat, and the thing that impressed Alden the most was No. 4 man Ryan Washington and No. 5 guy Jake Michaud, who finished seventh and ninth, respectively, are getting closer to the top three of Chapman, D.J. Flynn and Christian Sleeper.
“There’s been kind of a big gap between those first three kids and then we’ve got like six kids who are all about the same that are going back and forth,” Alden said. “But it looked like today Ryan Washington and Jake broke away from those guys a little bit.”
Chapman, a junior, broke away from Flynn, Sleeper and Mattanawcook of Lincoln’s Matt Guiod over the stretch portion of the race to post his first individual victory of the season.
Not bad for a guy who hadn’t run competitively since middle school.
“I was behind them for most of the way, then I passed Christian and then I passed D.J.,” Chapman said. “I know I’ve worked hard and it paid off. I felt good today because I had a good week this week with workouts and stuff.”
Chapman’s big sport is Nordic skiing, while he also plays on Caribou’s golf team, but he’s certainly asserting himself into the Vikings’ pack.
“In skiing I felt like I was behind so I decided to do running so I could be in shape,” he said.
Chapman’s performance was reassuring for Alden since Sleeper, normally his top runner, struggled a little bit.
“Christian got kind of hurting a little bit with the heat, so Christian was a minute off where he usually is,” Alden said.
MA’s Guiod wound up second while Flynn and Sleeper finished 3-4 for Caribou. Rounding out the Vikings’ top seven runners were Kjetil Rossignol in 15th and Charm Karunsari in 21st.
Other top-10 individuals were Matt Eager of Presque Isle in fifth, Alex Beals of Bapst in sixth, MDI’s Sam Swann in eighth and John Bapst’s Coral Gurrero in 10th.
In the girls’ competition, the defending EM champion Crusaders looked strong in scoring 34 points, while Caribou earned runner-up honors with 57 points.
MDI was third among six scoring teams with 64 points, followed by Presque Isle (96), Old Town (128) and Orono (152).
Coach Joe Capehart’s team was ranked seventh in the latest coaches poll, and was paced by Adrienne Carmack’s second-place finish while sister Mary was fourth, followed by Amanda Lalime in fifth, Maliaa Demers in 10th, Maggie Bryan (11th), Jaylee Fox (18th) and Linley Wakeland (26th).
This is a Crusader team that has had plenty of experience winning championships in both cross country and on the track, and so far this fall, that experience is paying dividends.
“I really have a dedicated, veteran group this year, I think they really know what they need to do,” Capehart sa id. “They have the experience and the knowledge from all their years in running. It’s good to have a group like that.”
Manion’s summer training regime is certainly paying off, as she took advantage of a summer job.
“This summer I did a lot of running and biking, I was on MDI working for the summer,” she said. “I just stayed really active.”
Despite hot and humid conditions throughout the combined JV race, things cooled off considerably for the varsity runners.
“The air was muggy but it felt good once the breeze came in,” Chapman said.
Other top-10 finishers on the girls’ side were Foxcroft’s Chelsea Oldfield in sixth, MDI’s Nora Hubbel in seventh and Mackenzie Belyea and Mary Jo Sheehan in eighth and ninth.