Class B State XC Preview
Defending state champion Lily Horne of Freeport versus Lila Gaudrault of Cape Elizabeth is the expected duel for the Class B individual championship on Saturday at Belfast. The duo has separated themselves from the rest of the Class B this fall.
Gaudrault who finished third in the state meet as a freshman a year ago has gotten the best of Horne the last two weeks as she took the Western Maine Conference Championship, and just last week added the Southern Maine Regional title. Gaudrault clocked 19:34.77 on the tough layout at Twin Brook last week, and at the Festival of Champions ran under 19 minutes with her seventh place 18:51 finish.
They say it hard to beat the competition three weeks in a row. Horne finished 23 seconds back of Gaudrault at WMC's, and then sliced the margin to a little under four at Regionals.
Horne hasn't raced at Belfast this fall, although did clock a 18:36.70 on the fast flat course at Gorham earlier this fall.
Clearly there isn't much separating the two, they ran side by side for over two miles at the regional last week before Gaudrault opened a gap on the back hills of the A loop. The difference in courses could play a role but both are known for there ability to run well on tough courses.
The weather is more than likely to bring that toughness out, expected temperatures are suppose to be in low forty's with a the possibility of a 1/10" of rain.
It should be a treat for the fans as these two go head to head for the third week in a row as they race to be crowned the best in Class B.
Outside of the battle up front expect Cape Elizabeth senior Camilla Grosso who finished third in the Southern Maine Regional, along with Northern Maine Regional Champion Caitlin Macpherson of Ellsworth to contend for top five finishers.
A whole host of runners should contend for top ten honors. Northern Maine runners Jaymie Sidaway (John Bapst) & Aliah Coltart (John Bapst) & Katelyn Osborne (MDI), along with Southern Maine runners Kate Pinette & Heidi Fortin from Wells all were top 5 finishers last week.
If you looked at the virtual meets based on seasonal best & season average for 5k then the Wildcats of York might not jump out as the team favorite. York ranks 6th in the seasonal best list and 7th best in the seasonal average virtual meets yet last week won the Southern Maine Regional title by four points over Cape Elizabeth.
York has come on strong at the end of the season, and had a 1:19 top five delta last week. The top four runners were all within 45 seconds of each other. Cape has the strength up front with Gaudrault & Grosso, and last week Kelsey Kennedy was 9th while the Capers 4th runner was just 4 spots back of York's the difference was in the 5th runner. York's placed 26th while Cape's didn't finish until 16 spots later.
Yarmouth is a team to watch while just third at the Southern Regional the Clippers are the defending state champions, and beat both team at the WMC Championship two weeks ago.
Northern Maine champion Ellsworth & runner-up MDI tied last weekend with the Eagles edging the Trojans on a 6th runner tie breaker. Both squads can challenge the squads from the south making this team race one of the best on the day.
Like the girls race this will be the fourth week in a row the top contending athletes will face off. Freeport sophomore Martin Horne has been the victor the last two weeks against Cape Elizabeth junior Jack Bassett. In each each the two battled each other for 2 plus miles with Bassett making a move to put Horne away only to see Horne kick away over the final 200m of the race.
Horne's kick is certainly something he is known for now, it left Bassett shaking his head after the regional meet as if to say what do I have to do to beat him.
Saturday will be round four between the two harriers on a much flatter course than the two previous races which were at St Joe's and Twin Brook.
It may take a different race strategy from Bassett to beat Horne, one thing is sure he can't leave it until the kick.
Wells junior Griffin Allaire could play spoiler. Allaire finished third at the Southern Maine Regional a little under 10 seconds back of Horne and four seconds back of Bassett. Allaire has run 16:20.20 which is faster than Horne's best (16:29) & Bassett's best (16:31).
Northern Maine champion Matyas Nachtiagall ran 17:00 at Belfast to win the regional title last week, he'll have hands full running with the talent from the south but shouldn't be counted out as he won by 13 seconds a week ago. Dylan Marreo of Caribou who was second a week ago running 17:13, ran much faster on the Belfast course at FOC where he clocked a 16:41.58.
With the conditions expected to be cold and rainy and the threat of a muddy course anything could happen on Saturday.
The team race is expected to be a barn burner as well. Last week just two points separated the top three teams in the Southern Maine regional with York taking home the hardware after having the better 6th runner than Cape Elizabeth, Freeport was third.
York does it with the strength of its pack as their first runner was only 9th last week but the next four all came withing the next 16 places, the Wildcats pack time was 55 seconds.
Cape had the meet won through the first four runners with a 47-57 edge but like the girls the fifth runner proved to be the difference. York's placed 25th while the Capers finished 35th.
Northern Maine Champion Hermon might be the team to beat as the Hawks. A week ago they placed all 5 scoring runners in the top 11 to win the Regional title by 27 points. A 30 second pack time is the best of any team.
Cape Elizabeth finished 51 points better than Hermon at FOC.
Don't sleep on Freeport who always runs well in tough conditions they won the 2014 team title in a snow storm at Belfast, and almost won last week. They have three seniors in the top five an that experience could prove to be a key on Saturday.