KVAC Girls XC Championship Preview

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Girls Class A

On paper, the Camden Hills Regional High School girls, in their first season in Class A, appear to have the clear advantage heading into the KVAC Cross Country Championships this weekend. The Windjammers, with their top five showing an average time of 19:52, look to have a solid leg-up on the next ranked team, Mt. Ararat. The Eagle's top five average 20:42.

But Camden's best times were generated on the speedy course at Belfast during the September 30th Festival of Champions while Mt. Ararat's "fastest" times were earned on the grass course at Brunswick early in the season.

There have been no head-to-heads between the teams so far this but
 Brunswick has seen a lot Mt. Ararat this season----three 5K races along with the Lailiberte Invitational and the Quabacook Relays at Morse----and the consistent pattern has been for Mt. Ararat to put its first three finishers, Katherine Leckbee, Camila Ciembroniewicz, and Karlie Leighton, across the line ahead of Brunswick' s Micaela Ashby and Isabella Pols. An identical pattern played out at the Camden Invitational last week with Camden taking the first three spots by similar margins, with Brunswick taking four and five comfortably. In other words Mt. Ararat and Camden look a lot alike when they are running races; the top three from Camden---Grace Iltis, Augusta Stockman, and Miranda Dunton--look very much like the top three from Mt. Ararat.

The one discernible difference between the two squads is toward the end of the squads. Camden's 1-5 split is 2:18 while Mt. Ararat's is 2:51, not unexpected given that Mt. Ararat has yet to run a fast course. But just 15 seconds separate Camden's 5th from 7th runners while the same gap at Mt Ararat shows a 43 second margin.

So the team championship will be determined by two things, the strength of the team's 4-7 runners and where all the top runners not wearing red finish.

If Jillian Richardson of Edward Little, Kahryn Cullenberg of Mt. Blue, Lydia Gilmore of Bangor, Isabella Pols and Micaela Ashby of Brunswick are on the podium Saturday it will be as individual finishers and not with their teams. Even so they'll play a big part in determining which team takes the title.

 Each of these runners, along with another half-dozen have legitimate shots at a top ten finish.

Richardson, who finished 3rd last season, will likely be vying for the individual title. Mt. Ararat's Kathrine Leckbee took the individual championship last season (19:44) and she and Richardson have dueled twice this season, including at the Laliberte Invitational on a modified course at Cony, with Leckbee coming out on top on each occasion with about 10 seconds to spare.

Camden was on this course September 22nd but their result was skewed when by bad directions on the course sent two Camden runners, along with Jillian Richardson and Maranacook's Molly McGrail off course. 

Girls Class B

A pair of first years, Olivia Tiner of Winslow and Courtney Paine of Erskine, may be the only thing keeping the Maranacook Black Bears from a clean sweep of the top positions in the Class B girls race. Tiner ran a 19.21 in the Freshman race at Festival of Champions for a 4th place finish. Paine didn't run at Festival but has a season's best 19:50, and did very well on the short course at Cony early this season taking the 7th spot in the girls race at the Laliberte Invitational.

Paine and Tiner may do well, but the team competition will belong to Maranacook.

The Black Bears had seven girls in the seeded race at Festival and have the potential to put all five likely scorers---Molly McGrail, Laura ParentMaddie Taylor, Sophie O'Clair, and Madelyn Dwyer----in the top ten this Saturday. Maranacook boasts the smallest 1-5 split in the KVAC over all classes.

The contest for runner-up in the Class B team competition will likely go to Erskine but a wild card in the team competition will be Morse. Syd McCarren finished 5th in the KVAC meet in 2016 and Jenny Wilbraham has had a strong season, but Morse has not always been able to field five runners.