BANGOR — The Caribou and Bangor Christian boys and John Bapst and Orono girls weathered mud, wind and rain over a mucky 3.1-mile hilly course en route to Penobscot Valley Conference cross country titles Saturday at the Dorothea Dix field.
Of all those teams, the Crusaders, who scored 43 points to outdistance MDI’s 59 in the Class B girls meet, may have had the best advantage since coach Joe Capehart’s club practices on the course most every day.
“Out by the mile mark we usually do mile repeats and that helped me personally and other members of the team so much during that part of the race,” said Bapst senior Maggie Bryan.
Ellsworth was third among Class B girls squads with 76 points, followed by Cairbou (86) and Presque Isle (111).
Orono scored 45 points to win the Class C crown, while Lee Academy (52) and Bucksport (54) were second and third, respectively.
The Caribou boys tucked five runners in the top 10 in scoring 22 points while Ellsworth had 47, John Bapst 78, Presque Isle 114 and MDI 125.
Bangor Christian cruised to the Class C title with 40 points while Orono was second with 57 and Sumner of East Sullivan third with 72.
All of the Class B and C competitors compete in one big race while the B and C schools are scored separately.
That type of setting benefited the Bangor Christian boys, who got to test themselves against one of the top teams in the state in Caribou while also getting a barometer against their Class C brethren.
It turns out the Patriots did both solidly, with Brad Wilcox finishing fourth among Class C competitors in 18 minutes, 11.9 seconds over the 3.1 miles while Dylan Merchant was sixth and Zach Pallmeter eighth.
“In poor weather conditions some of us improved our times so I think we’re looking pretty good,” said Wilcox, also one of the top players on BC’s soccer team, which is in the midst of defending its Class D state championship.
Even though soccer playoffs are on the horizon, Wilcox said that the schedule will likely work out in the Patriots’ favor so he and his four teammates who also play soccer can compete in regional and state cross country competitions the next two Saturdays.
“We won’t have to miss any of either, it’ll be great,” said Wilcox.
The Caribou boys showed their not missing a beat in the big-school competition, as the two-time defending Eastern Maine champions tucked all five scoring runners in the top 10.
That proved to be instrumental since top runner Christian Sleeper, who was in the lead pack with Dan Curts of Ellsworth and Alex Bulteel of Orono, stumbled around a mucky corner.
“Right below the big hill, about a mile and a half in,” Sleeper said. “The corners, you had to slow down for [them]. I paid for that.”
Fortunately for Sleeper, who finished second among Class B runners and fourth overall, his teammates packed in well, as D.J. Flynn, Caleb Chapman and Jesse Sandstrom finished 3-4-5 and freshman Ryan Washington eighth, giving the Vikings a pack time — the difference between No. 1 runner Sleeper and No. 5 guy Washington — of a robust 45 seconds.
“We were ready for this race mentally, physically, and we had the mindset to stick together,” said Sleeper. “Caleb and D.J. were going to try to stick right with me then Jesse Sandstrom had a great race.”
Curts, a freshman, overtook Orono’s Bulteel to win individual honors in 16:32.2 while Bulteel ran 16:34.0. Matt Guiod of Mattanawcook of Lincoln was third overall in 17:08.2
In the girls race, three John Bapst runners, sisters Adrienne and Mary Carmack and Amanda Lalime finished in the top 10 while Bryan was 13th and Laura Donovan 16th as the Crusaders held off a strong challenge from MDI.
Even though Bapst has been ranked as high as third in the coaches’ poll this fall, the Crusaders weren’t taking the Trojans for granted.
“They’re always running well by the end of the season,” Bryan said.
The 1-2-3 punch of the Carmacks and Lalime and Donovan finishing ahead of MDI’s No. 5 girl helped cement the victory.
“We just wanted to do our best, this is where we train, its fun to finally get a race here,” said Mary Carmack.
Dacie Manion of Old Town remained undefeated against Eastern Maine competitors, cruising to the individual crown in 19:07.6 while Alecia Palmer of Presque Isle was second.
Foxcroft Academy’s Chelsie Oldfield was the top Class C individual, covering the course in 20:41.7.
Leading Orono’s winning effort was Rowan Wilson, who was second among Class C runners while Grace Poulin was eighth and Emilie Seavey 16th.
Rounding out the Red Riots’ scorers were Siobhan Harrity (19th) and Elizabeth Nelson (20th).