In cross country, one place can be the difference between lofting a championship trophy and runner-up hardware.
That is why, when postseason competition heats up, the only time that matters to coaches and athletes is the pack time, the difference between a team's first and fifth runner.
The Mount Desert Island girls have paralyed that strategy into championship success over the last couple years - its pack time at the Penobcot Valley Conference championships was a staggering 1:06 - and it's a big reason why the Trojans are heavily favored to defend their Eastern Maine Class B title at Saturday's regional championship meet in Belfast.
Hampden Academy will be looking to maintain its perch atop the Class A pedestal while Washburn is the prohibitive favorite in the Class C meet. The Beavers are also defending champs and return the reigning individual champ in senior Carsyn Koch.
Class B: Undefeated MDI, also the reginging state champion, has been deservedly ranked No. 1 in the Milesplit polls throughout the season.
All seven of MDI's runners finished in the top 10 at the PVC championships, led by Isabel Erickson's second-place finish while freshman Waylon Henggeler was right behind in third.
Camden Hills of Rockport finished second to Maranacook in the KVAC Championships, and boasts a solid pack led by senior Brittany Bowman. The Windjammers, along with John Bapst, should engage in a battle for runner-up honors.
Ellsworth senior Aleta Looker ran away with the PVC championship race, and said after that meet she is determined to break 19 minutes on Belfast's fast 5K course.
Thanks to a relatively dry fall, Belfast's course is in excellent shape for fast times, and Looker could easily reach her goal if she is on her game.
Class C: Washburn is no stranger to championship success, as this group of Beavers has won championships in cross country, soccer and basketball over the last few years.
Led by Koch, a senior, the Beavers are favored to claim their third consecutive Eastern Maine championship. Koch's sister, Tori, a freshman, has had a solid season as well, while junior Mackenzie Worcester, senior Carmen Bragg and sophomore Emilia Churchill lead the pack as well.
Orono, led by Lily Koffman, is Washburn's chief challenger, while she, Koch and Mattanawcook Academy's Tia Tardy are the individual favorites. Koch has gone 3-for-3 in Eastern Maine championship meets in her career.
Class A: This should be the closest race of the day, with Hampden Academy and Brunswick looming as the favorites, while Mount Ararat, Lewiston and Mt. Blue will be in the mix as well.
The Dragons have a talented 1-2 punch in KVAC individual champ Teresa Murphy and Tessa Cassidy, while the Broncos' top runner is Elizabeth LaBun.
That trio, along with Cony freshman Anna Guadalupi, are the favorites for the individual title.