Southern Maine Class B Regional XC Championship Preview

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Lincoln Academy (flo50 #4) comes into the Southern B regional as the slight favorite. The Eagles were very impressive in its win at the KVAC Championships last weekend in Class B as they scored just 30 points. Leading the way for them all season has been Sam Russ who's been a dependable no. 1 runner, and took the individual title last weekend. His low stick will be very important but where the Eagles have the edge over the rest of their field comes with their depth. At KVACs Lincoln had four in the top five overall, with all running 18:30 or better (the Cony course is very difficult so this is impressive). Jarret Gulden, Benji Pugh and David Barnum have been solid all season, and will need to work as a pack. They will also need a good performance from its fifth runner Noah Jordan, who will need to try and close that gap between him and the pack.

Wells (Flo50 # 6) is going to challenge Lincoln Academy. Mitch Libby has been fantastic as the Warriors top runner all season and is expected to challenge for a top three finish. Wells has good depth -- four runners have run 17:30 or better for 5k this season. Griffin Allaire has been a solid no. 2 runner for them and Mitch Stapleton and Brian Niznik have stepped up when it counted. The outcome on Saturday is going to depend on the performances of both teams fifth runners. Lincoln and Wells have strikingly similar teams, with great front-running and solid 2-4 runners. For Wells, Decovan Dufort will need a big performance.

Yarmouth comes into Saturday with aspirations for a top three finish. With Luke Laverdiere leading the way, the Clippers are almost guaranteed to have that first stick. He's been dominant all season and that shouldn't change on this weekend. Odeh Rizkallah has been solid as Yarmouth's second runner, and has run 16:57.43. Sammy Potter and Ben Cox-Faxon have been consistent as the Clippers' three and four runners but it's fifth runner Justin Pietropaoli will need a great race to contend for a top three finish.

Freeport has great momentum going into the postseason after they won the D1 title at the WMC Championships last week. Unlike the other teams, they don't possess the font-of-the-pack type runner, but in its win at WMCs they had four in the top seven overall. The Falcons are led by Alex Les and Martin Horne, who will be depended on to get top 20 finishes on Saturday. The Achilles heal for this team is its fifth runner. Nick Mitch was the Falcons fifth runner at WMCs, finishing 19th running 19:21, but will need to have a great race for Freeport to contend with the likes of Lincoln, Wells and Yarmouth. Cape Elizabeth is another team to watch. Sophomore Jack Bassett has been outstanding for them and took the D1 individual WMC title last week. His low stick helps. They have five runners who've run 18:30 or better, so they have the depth to make a run at a high finish.



All eyes will be on Yarmouth's Luke Laverdiere on Saturday. He hasn't been challenged all season and he comes into the regional with plenty of rest, so him going for a fast time isn't out of the question. He has a season-best of 15:10.86. He ran 16:13.35 for the win last year and is in much better shape in 2017. Will he chase a sub-16 time and join the list of elites who have done so, or will he run just to win to save his efforts for the anticipated long postseason? Mitch Libby of Wells was third in this race a year ago and has been the second best runner in the class all season. He and Laverdiere are the only two runners in the state who have broken 16:00 this year after Libby ran 15:59.26 at Freeport in late September. He's coming of a win at the WMC Championships where he ran 16:55 on a very difficult St. Joseph's course. With him expected to lead the chase pack, look for Libby to run a fast time. Only seven runners have run under 16:30 at the Southern Regional in Class B history but Laverdiere pulling him, Libby has the wheels to dip under that mark.

Lincoln Academy's Sam Russ is also expected to contend for a top three finish. Russ was fourth a year ago and has won five races in 2017, most recently his 17:44 clocking at the Class B KVAC Championships last weekend. He comes with a season-best of 16:12.57 -- good for third in Class B. He ran that at Festival of Champions finishing 13th overall. He will mix it up with Libby in that chase pack. Jack Bassett of Cape Elizabeth is another athlete to watch. As previously mentioned, he's coming off an D1 victory at the WMC championships, running 17:30. Bassett finished 18th as a freshman last season, and is miles ahead of that form in 2017. He's run 16:35 for 5k this season, which ranks first among sophomores in the state. Russ's teammates Jarrett Gulden and David Barnum should be in the mix as well. Gulden has run 16:47 this season and was 20th in this race last season. Gulden' run 17:10 and was 15th in 2016. Alex Les of Freeport should contend for a high finish. He finished 11th last year and comes in with a season-best of 17:03.21. He was second in D2 at the WMC championships last week.
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