KVAC XC Boys Championship Preview

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The Class B the boys KVAC Championship looks a lot like the girls. One team---Lincoln Academy---looks to have a clear path to the title. The Eagles have the potential to put all five of their scorers in the top ten. There will be some great individual performances from other runners but none of the other squads have the depth to challenge the Eagles.

In Class A, as with the girls, the picture is much more complicated. Looking at just data, Mt. Ararat should finish fourth behind Bangor, Hampden, and a resurgent Brunswick team but the data doesn't take into account the fact that the Mt. Ararat boys, just like their girls team, have not run a fast course so far this season. And data doesn't run.

Lincoln Academy, led by junior Sam Russ, who has four wins this season to go with a 13th place finish at Festival of Champions, the Eagles are deep enough that Jojo Martin, with the 6th fastest team on the team has the 14th best time in the KVAC. Jarret Gulden, who went below 17 minutes for the first time at Festival, and senior David Barnum, have finished second or third in a fair number of races this season. They both have the potential to do it again  in the championship meet. Rounding out the five likely scorers for Lincoln Academy are sophomore Benji Pugh and senior Noah Jordan.

Runners most likely to break up the Eagle's streak are Waterville's Nick Dall, Luke Bartol of Maranacook and Ricky Smith from Belfast. All three ran the Cony course in a nine team meet on September 22 so have fresh experience with its hills in a big meet. Dall's season best this year is 17:04 but the junior has been below 17 five times during his high school career. Dall has plainly been working his way back from an injury. A good sign for the Panthers is Dall's second place finish last week at the Mt. Blue Relays.

Maranacook's Bartol took 5th on the Cony course on September 22nd. Belfast's Smith was 8th in that race.

Waterville, Maranacook, and Belfast looking to be vying for the runner-up spot in the team competition. 

In Class A Hampden and Bangor have seen each other several times this season. The Rams took their home meet in Bangor while Hampden claimed the top spot on their home course; both teams were at the Festival of Champions. Bangor shows an average time of 17:26 with Hampden just behind at 17:28, but the Rams have a solid advantage in the split between the first and fifth runners (Bangor 1:49, Hampden 2:14).

With Mt. Ararat's average time coming in at a stately 17:46 fans from Hampden, who have not seen the Eagles this season, might discount them. But Bangor knows the Eagles well. Mt Ararat and Bangor dueled for the top spot in two short course events this season. Just last week Mt. Ararat edged Bangor at the Mt. Blue Relays and earlier this season the Eagles outpaced the Rams at the Quabacook Relays at Morse High School. But each competition was won by the thinnest of margins; the aggregate times at each of these relays showed Mt.Ararat with a margin of less than a minute at each event.

Bangor's Gabe Coffey, Wyatt Lord of Hamden, and Lisandro Berry-Gaviria are among the top ranked make runners in Class A. Coffey, with the 3rd best time this season, has faced off against Wyatt Lord, who holds the 7th best time in Class A, three times this season. Coffey took all three races by margins between 6 and 30 seconds.

Meanwhile Berry-Gaviria who, by virtue of Mt. Ararat's habit of running slow courses, has just the 12th best time this season, has split his two races against Coffey this season. Both races were short courses at Quabacook on September 9th, and last week at Mt. Blue; Berry Gaviria took the earlier tilt by 5 seconds, while Coffey crossed 12 seconds ahead of Berry-Gaviria at Mt. Blue.

The wild card in Class A may be Brunswick; with a miserly 1-5 split of just 47 seconds, the Dragons have the potential to put all their scorers across the line in short order.

The Dragons have run against Mt Ararat four times this season---three times in 5Ks, and once at Quabacook---and lost each time, are ranked as the third faster team times this season, just ahead of the Eagles. A couple factors account for this anomaly. One is that Brunswick, led by junior Cam Ashbyran some strong times at Festival of Champions including a top ten finish in the Freshman boys race for Tyler Patterson. A second is the return of sophomore Will Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy ran for the first time this season last week at the Camden Invitational after rehabbing from a stress fracture. His time last week was 18:19, good enough for second on the squad and 6th overall in that six team race. He was consistently the number two runner last season and notched a personal best of 17:01 at the Northern Maine Regionals in 2016.