OLD TOWN -- The high school cross country season is nearing its halfway point, and some of Eastern Maine's top individuals and teams are starting to distance themselves from the pack.
If the results of Saturday's Sectional Invitational at Old Town High School are any indication of how the Class B postseason will shape up, there will be some very exciting racing come mid-October.
The Caribou boys showed they haven't lost a step in defending their state championship, as the Vikings claimed team honors along with the MDI girls on a cloudy, sticky afternoon.
Coach Roy Alden's club had three runners finish in the top 10 en route to a 50-68 victory over John Bapst. Ellsworth tallied 76 points to finish third, while Orono (109) and Mattanawcook Academy (147) rounded out the top five.
The MDI girls used a late surge to overtake rival John Bapst in the girls' meet, with three Trojans finishing in the top 10 as they annexed a 41-55 victory. Caribou took third place with 64 points, while Orono was fourth with 102 and Ellsworth fifth with 105.
Alex Bulteel of Orono and Dan Curts of Ellsworth put on a breathtaking show in the boys' race.
Early on, it appeared as though the Eagles' sophomore was going to continue his dominance of the Eastern Maine trails, but a late surge by Bulteel in the race's final 75 yards enabled him to post a winning time of 16:41.45.
Curts, who had led much of the race, clocked in at 16:41.79, while Presque Isle's Matt Eager, Mattanawcook Academy's Matt Guiod and Alex Beals of John Bapst rounded out the top five individuals.
In the team competition, Caleb Chapman, Ryan Washington and Brendan Wood spearheaded Caribou with a 6-8-9 finish, while Lucas Kinney in 13th and Jesse Sandstrom in 14th rounded out the scoring runners.
In the girls' race, Aleta Looker of Ellsworth led wire to wire and was never seriously threatened over the stretch portion of the race, and she broke the tape in 19:45, with Adrienne Carmack of Bapst coming in second.
Mackenzie Belyea of Caribou claimed third, and she was followed by MDI's Maggie Painter and Mary Carmack of Bapst.
In the team race, Bapst was ahead of MDI early on, but the Trojans surged over the second half of the race, as Nora Hubbell in sixth place and Malia Demers in ninth joined Painter in the top 10.
Olivia and Isabel Erickson finished 10th and 12th respectively for MDI, which has four sophomores and a freshman flanking two juniors in its lineup.
The Crusaders and Trojans have clearly established themselves as the favorites in Eastern Maine Class B this fall, as the two teams were ranked second and fifth in last week's coaches poll.