BELFAST, Maine — The course at the Troy Howard Middle School has been churned up during some big meets this season, including the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions and the Eastern Maine regional championships.
On Saturday, the best of the best of Maine’s cross country teams and individual runners will converge on the 3.1-mile course for the season finale: the state championships.
The Class A meets will open the day’s events, with the boys race scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and the girls feature slated for 11:45. The Class B meets will have the boys taking the starting pistol at 12:30 p.m., followed by the girls at 1:15.
The Class C competition closes out the day’s action at 2 p.m. (boys) and 2:45 (girls), respectively.
The Class A boys meet is expected to be contested among three teams, Scarborough, Massabesic of Waterboro and Lewiston. The Eastern-Maine champion Blue Devils carry the region’s hopes, led by the likes of Mohamed Awil and Mohamed Barre.
However, the Mustangs stormed to the Western-Maine title last week, serving notice that the Red Storm will be challenged in trying to defend their state crown for a second straight year. Bangor and Mt. Blue of Farmington are other teams with top-five potential.
Individuals in the hunt include Barre, Cameron Nadeau of Biddeford, Jon Stanhope of Bangor, Robby Hall of Scarborough and Justin Tracy of Mt. Blue.
The Class A girls team championship has several teams capable of winning. At the head of the line are WM champ Bonny Eagle of Standish, EM winner Hampden Academy and regional runners-up Mount Ararat of Topsham and Massabesic.
Erzy Nagy of Lawrence High in Fairfield is going after her first state XC title after winning at the EM regional and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet. She’ll be pushed by Samantha Cox and Szatkowski, both of Bonny Eagle.
In Class B, the Ellsworth boys should be in the hunt to bring home the prize after claiming the regional title on the same course last week. The Eagles are paced by junior Dan Curts, the EM individual winner, along with Robert Looker and Brayden Beardsley.
However, the West has some talented squads, featuring regional champion Cape Elizabeth and defending state champ Falmouth.
Curts is expected to battle with Silas Eastman of Fryeburg Academy for individual bragging rights. Ben Trapani of Camden Hills, Nate Madeira of Greely in Cumberland Center and Cape’s Liam Simpson are among other headliners in the field.
The Class B girls race has the potential to be a thriller. The return of No. 1 Maggie Painter should provide a huge boost for Mount Desert Island as the Trojans attempt to repeat as state champs.
MDI must contend with EM winner Camden Hills and another fast lineup that features Brittany Bowman. Waterville, Falmouth and Caribou also have top-five aspirations.
The field will be chasing Waterville senior Bethanie Brown, who is unbeaten this fall. Bowman, Aleta Looker of Ellsworth, Painter and the Greely duo of Kirstin Sandreuter and Eva Bates are likely to be near the front at the finish line.
In Class C, EM titlist Orono and Bangor Christian figure to be in the team title hunt as they take on the likes of WM champion Hall-Dale of Farmingdale, Waynflete of Portland and Telstar of Bethel. North Yarmouth Academy has won the previous two state meets.
The Red Riots have a lead-pack performer in Tyler White, but are going to need five guys near the front to bring home the hardware. Hall-Dale topped Orono at the Festival of Champions and will look to Josh Ringer to provide the pace.
The individual crown will have many challengers, but most expect Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar and Jack Pierce of Merriconeag in Freeport to continue their duel coming out of the WM meet, which was won by Pierce.
The Class C girls meet includes a Merriconeag contingent that is shooting for a third consecutive team title. However, EM champion Washburn hopes to change that trend
The Beavers go into the meet as the top seed based on this fall’s best times. The catalyst for Washburn is Carsyn Koch, who is going after her third straight individual victory.
Merriconeag and Waynflete finished 1-2 in the WM championship meet, with Dirigo of Dixfield and Boothbay joining Orono as teams that will have a say in the outcome.
Among the runners trying to end Koch’s domination of the individual title are Orono’s Lily Koffman, the EM runner-up, along with WM champ Sophia Thayer of Boothbay and WM runner-up Hannah Austin of NYA.