Eastern Maine XC Championship Preview
2013 Boys Individual Champion Josh Horne (Mt Blue) 16:12.94
2013 Boys Team Champion Lewiston
2013 Girls Individual Champion Anne Guadalupi (Cony) 19:05.73
2013 Girls Team Champion Brunswick
Last week's KVAC Championship was a preview for the Eastern Maine Regional as the same teams & individuals will square off again, however the change in courses could help yield some different results along with the course conditions. While the course at Cony is known as one of the toughest in the state, the course at Belfast is known for it's blazing fast times.
Either way Aaron Willingham of Mt Blue who won the KVAC championship will be looking to cross the finish line first this weekend as well. The #2 ranked runner in the state is also looking for a bit of revenge as he fell at Festival of Champions while in the lead and was never able to recover. At FOC, Willingham was the 4th fastest Maine runner, and behind Isaiah Harris of Lewsiton who he will run against this weekend. While Aaron got the best of Harris last weekend, the course at Belfast certainly suits Harris's running style, and is a course he's always had success on. No question he'll be looking to rebound after finishing 5th at KVAC, 50 seconds behind Willingham. Right now the Harris vs Willingham matchup sits at 2-2 this fall.
Don't count out Willingham's teammate Dan Lesko who has had a strong fall as the #3 rated runner, and is coming off a runner-up finish at the KVAC championships where he was gaining on his teammate in the final mile. Lesko has a best of 16:15.03 on the Belfast course this fall. He employed a new racing stategy last weekend not going out as hard as he had been, and it paid off in the end as he was 17 seconds better than the third place finisher. That third place finisher was sophomore Paul Casavant the #7 rated harrier in the lastest watchlist. Casavant had a strong day at KVACs, and ran well on the Belfast course at FOC where he clocked a 16:26.
Senior Caleb Lord of Hampden has had his share of success on the course at Belfast including his personal best 16:24.56 from the EM regional last fall. Lord was 4th in the KVAC championship, and is primed for another strong run in the postseason. Another athlete to watch is Osman Doorow of Lewiston who placed 6th in the KVAC championship a week ago, Osman had a huge run at FOC where he clocked his lifetime best fo 16:20 finishing 11th.
The top 30 finishers will punch there ticket to the state meet the following week
Looking at the teams in the Class A boys meet it looks like 6 teams will advance to the state meet based on 11 teams scoring at the KVAC meet. Hampden Academy the third ranked team in the state is coming off a strong 22 point win at KVACs, and none of the teams they will run against have beaten them this season. 6th ranked Mt Blue appears to be their biggest challenger, the Cougars were runner-ups last week will need a big day out of the 4 & 5 runners to have any shot of upsetting a deep Broncos team. 8th ranked Messalonskee will be chasing Mt Blue a team they have been fairly close to this fall, they will need to run better up front, and get great performance from their #5 to get over the hump. 12th ranked Lewiston is coming off a sub par day KVACs where they finished 5th, the Blue Devils ran well on the Belfast course at FOC so expect them to bounce back in a big way. Brewer has steadily been improving throughout the fall, and were 3 points in front of Lewiston in finishing 4th. They were just 8 back of Messalonskee as well so if they continue to improve a top 3 finish isn't out of the question.
It looks like rivals Brunswick & Mt Ararat will contend for the final state meet spot. The Dragons were 11 points better than the Eagles last week at KVACs.
The girls individual race should be a competitive one with Anne Guadalupi of Cony, XC wathclist #2, Tessa Cassidy of Brunswick, XC watchlist #5 & XC watchlist #8 Elizabeth Labun squaring off again.
Guadalupi was the best at KVACs finishing 15 seconds in front of Labun, and 37 seconds ahead of Cassidy. That race was on Anne's home course so that advantage will be lost at Belfast. Guadalupi is the defending regional champion and the sophomore will be looking to make it two in a row. She boasts a personal best of 18:59 on the season.
At FOC, Tessa Cassidy was the top EM finisher beating both Guadalupi & Labun. Tessa's best 5k on the year is her 19:05.68 at Belfast where she was the second Class A runner overall, look for her to rebound after a bit of an off-day at KVACs.
Currently Cassidy & Guadalupi have faced off 4 times during the season with each winning twice.
Hampden Academy senior Elizabeth Labun showed she can't be counted out in the discussion of top EM runner as she was the KVAC runner-up last week. Labun has been consistently near the front of the pack all fall with the expection of an off day at FOC, she's been in the top 3 finishers of each meet.
While Guadalupi, Cassidy & Labun get the headlines, a new contender emerged at the KVAC meet as freshman Katherine Leckbee of Mt Ararat had a breakthrough race placing 4th, just 5 seconds off of Cassidy's pace. Leckbee hasn't run at Belfast yet in her career which could be a advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it.
Conditions could play a role in who comes out on top, a muddy course will even things up and could introduce some news contenders to the mix.
2013 Boys Individual Champion Dan Curts (Ellsworth) 16:00.95
2013 Boys Team Champion Ellsworth
2013 Girls Individual Champion Aleta Looker (Ellsworth) 18:54.85
2013 Girls Team Champion MDI
This years landscape in Eastern Maine Class B is completely different than a year ago on the boys side with 8 of the top 10 individuals either graduating or not running this fall. The individual title is up for grabs with Waterville senior Chris Cote looking to win his first EM title. Cote who placed 4th a year ago, has struggled this fall trying to figure out some digestion issues and hasn't been at the same level as a year ago, but he's talent is undeniable. Cote finished second in the Class B race at KVACs last weekend, only losing to Harrison Knowlton of Leavitt who will run the Western Maine regional. Chris finished 4 seconds in front of rising sophomore Caleb Love-Webb of Camden Hills, these two are expected to battle it out for the title this weekend.
Love-Webb was closing hard at KVACs but ran out of real estate. At the Festival of Champions earlier this fall, Love-Webb finished 9 seconds in front of Cote. However the week before FOC, Cote got the best of Love-Webb on the Cony course. Caleb will no doubt have confidence after being right behind Cote on a tough course, and also knowing he ran faster than him on the Belfast course three week ago.
Looking to spoil the party up front will be PVC large school champion Josh Zapsky who was second overall in the PVC race last weekend. Zapsky has been consistent all fall with a best effort of 17:13 at Old Town earlier this fall. FOC was an off day for Josh as he ran 17:56 good for 96th, he's much better than those results.
The team race looks to be tight as well. While the virtual meets shows MDI as the favorite with Caribou about 20 points back, last weekend at PVC the exact opposite happened as the Vikings took the Large School PVC title by a margin of 9 points over the Trojans. MDI will be looking to exact some revenge on Caribou to take home the regional crown, but Caribou seems to peaking at the right time. At PVCs they had 6 runners in the top 12 runners overall.
Camden Hills from the KVAC was the Class B runner-up losing to Maranacook by just 4 points last weekend, they will be looking to get into the mix with MDI & Caribou with their eyes on a possible regional title.
MDI's Caroline Driscoll has turned it on in the last couple of weeks making her the individual favorite coming into Regional Championship. Driscoll who currently ranks as the #6 runner on the Watchlist is coming off a win at the PVC Championship. At the FOC earlier this month, Driscoll finished 13th overall running her fastest time of the season, 19:33.55. She'll be looking to improve on her 5th place finish from last fall.
Looking to keep up with Driscoll will be Ellsworth senior Haley Lawrence who beat Driscoll at FOC as she ran her lifetime best of 19:26.29. The last two weeks saw her finish 2nd at the Hancock County Championship to Driscoll, and a 4th place effort at PVCs. No question Lawrence should have confidence running on the course at Belfast where she was the top Class B runner at the Festival.
KVAC Class B runner-up Lauren Brown will look to mix it up with the tops from the PVC at the EM Regional. Brown is coming off a strong effort at Cony where she was just 10 seconds off the win in Class B, she ran a 20:27 at FOC good for 36th this season on the Belfast course.
Don't count of Waylon Henggeler of MDI who was third in the EM Regional a season ago, Henggeler was 5th on the PVC meet last week 12 seconds back of Lawrence. Earlier this fall Waylon ran a personal best 19:27.70 in the Sectional XC championship.
Looking for their third straight regional crown will be MDI, while the Trojans were beat several times earlier this fall by Orono, and didn't win FOC, they look to be firing on all cylinders in the championship season. Last time out at PVCS, MDI won the Large school race and won the overall title as well avenging earlier losses to the Red Riots of Orono. Based on the virtual meet with average 5k times this fall, they are 60 points favorites over Caribou.
Caribou will be looking for some hardware, they had a fine performance at the PVCS finishing behind MDI in the Large School race, and third overall in the meet. The Vikings dont have a front runner but boasted a pack time of 56 seconds for the top 5 runners.
2013 Boys Individual Champion Matt Toussaint (Ft. Kent) 16:51.81
2013 Boys Team Champion Orono
2013 Girls Individual Champion Carsyn Koch (Washburn) 19:30.34
2013 Girls Team Champion Orono
2013 individual champion Matt Toussaint of Fort Kent is back to defend his Regional title. Toussaint has rarely raced outside of the County but has been impressive regardless winning all his regular season meets. At FOC he placed 33rd overall running 16:59, he'll be looking for a much better effort on Saturday.
Toussaint will have his hands full trying to repeat. George Stevens Academy sophomore John Hassett put on a show in winning the PVC title last weekend as he ran away from a talented field to win by 45 seconds. Hassett showed last fall as a freshman that he runs well in big meets with his runner-up finish at EM Regional before a 5th place at states. He'll be looking to run as well as last weekend, and make the jump up to the top spot. At FOC Hassett was one spot & 3 seconds in front of Toussaint.
Looking to rebound after finishing 3rd overall in the PVC Championship will be Tristan Butterfield of Orono. Butterfield has a had a breathrough fall that saw him lead all EM Class C runners at FOC earlier this fall where he placed 29th running 16:49. Don't count him out he can run with both Toussaint & Hassett.
Butterfield's Orono Red Riots are the defending team champions are the favorites to repeat. Orono runners have 4 of fastest 5k times of the top 9, and are coming off a win of the small school race at PVCS where they put 6 in the top 11 finishers.
If anyone is to challenge Orono for the win it will be George Stevens Academy who was 6 points back at PVCs last weekend, GSA is strong up front will need the 4th & 5th runner to setp up to vault Orono for the title.
The girls individual race favorite is #7 XC watchlister Hannah Steelman of Orono who has had a fantastic fall thus far, and could make it even better with a EM Regional title. Steelman has a best of 19:03.65 for 5k this fall, a time she posted at Belfast at FOC where she was the runner-up & top Maine runner. Hannah won the small school PVC Championship last week running under 20 minutes for 5k once again, she placed 2nd in the overall meet. A year ago Steelman placed 5th in the Regional meet before finishing 6th in the state meet.
Looking to regain her top form will be Mattanawcook's Tia Tardy. Tardy started off the season beating Steelman in her first 4 races, before finishing 26th at FOC. At the PVC Championship Tia bounced back with a strong runner-up finish in the small school race, and 3rd place finish overall. A year ago Tardy was the runner-up to Crasyn Koch, she'll be looking to win it all on Saturday.
It doesn't look anyone else will challenge for the individual but if they do expect it to be one of Steelman's teammates, Kassidy Dill or Lily Koffman. Koffman has a best of 19:33 to her credit this fall, and placed 18th overall at FOC. Last weekend she was 4th in the PVC small school race. Dill finished right in front of Koffman at PVCs, she has a best of 19:45 from her 19th place finish at FOC.
It should be a walk in the park for Orono the defending team champion as the Red Riots are loaded this fall. Orono is undefeated against Class C compeition all fall, and only has 2 losses, one to Cape Elizabeth at FOC, and to MDI at PVCs. Based on best 5k times this fall Orono has 5 of the top 8 performances, if they could reproduce those results they would tally just 22 points which would be 7 better than they scored in winning the 2013 title.
George Stevens Academy looks primed to bring home some hardware as they are the second best team in EM C this fall. Washburn looks to be the third team that will advance to the state meet.