FOC: Boys Festival of Champions Preview

The twenty-first Maine XC Festival of Champions will feature most of the top talent in Maine. Eleven of the top fifteen ranked individuals in the MileSplit Maine rankings are entered along with nine of the top ten teams, and twenty three of the top twenty five teams in the most recent team rankings. The meet will be a who's who of Maine high school cross-country. 

Portland junior Nathan Blades is off to a strong start to his season with three wins under his belt and Saturday he'll look to continue his success as he enters as one of the individual favorites to win the FOC title. Blades has twice cracked the sixteen minute barrier this fall including last time out at the Southern Maine Classic (SMC) where he ran a personal best 15:39 finishing as the runner-up. Nathan likes to get out hard and control the pace from the front so expect him to get things going at the front of the race. Looking to challenge for the win will be Hampden Academy senior Charlie Collins who is undefeated so far in 2022 and ranked #3 in the statewide individual rankings. Collins has a best of 16:05 for 5k this fall, and Saturday will be the first time he has been challenged all-season. Charlie finished 10th a year ago is in a great position to move up into the top spot this year. Scarborough senior Adam Bendetson is ranked #4 entering the meet and is coming off a personal best 15:44 at the SMC two weeks ago where he finished third overall. Bendetson has been consistent this fall running under 16:30 each time out for 5k. He is primed to improve on his 35th place effort in the seeded race from last fall.

Maine XC Festival of Champions Meet Hub

Brunswick senior Eli Palmer comes in ranked 6th in the state. Palmer has won four times this fall already including last time out on a wet course at Brunswick where he stopped the clock at 16:11. Last fall Eli finished 18th in the seeded race. Defending Class B champion Logan Ouellette of Leavitt ranks 7th statewide comes off four consecutive wins including three efforts sub 17 minutes. He didn't race at FOC a year ago. Class C standout William Hileman of Bucksport is ranked 8th statewide. Hileman has raced three times this fall winning each time out, last year he didn't race at FOC. Brunswick senior Miles Logan has had a great fall showing huge improvements. Logan finished 47th a year ago in the seeded race, and is primed for a top ten finish this year. Last time out he clocked a new personal best of 16:27. Rounding out the top ten ranked athletes is Lake region's Sam Laverdiere who has been one of the top Class B runners this fall. Laverdiere has won four races this fall, and is coming off his best 5k a 16:59 on his home course on Wednesday.

Others to watch for are Xavier Lemieux of Bonny Eagle (#11), Kaleb Colson of Sumner (#13), Ben Prestes of Portland (#15), and Garrett Dailey of Burrillville, Rhode Island.

Maine Festival of Champions: Maine Boys Top 1000 Times

Top ranked Portland is the team favorite entering Saturday. The Bulldogs have been excellent so far this fall including a 34 point win at the SMC two weeks ago. Portland has the front end talent with Blades and Prestes, and the have quality and depth to go along with those two at the front. They rested their top three harriers last week so they will head into the meet rested and ready to throw down. Defending Class A state champions Hampden Academy will look to show they are still the team beat as the Broncos have looked strong to start the season despite having a young team. Brunswick always runs well at FOC, in the fact Dragons have won the last three times they have competed in the race. The Dragons have perhaps the best top three with Palmer, Logan, and Ben Klingle and based off their social media account feel they are ranked too low at #3. Fourth ranked Scarborough comes off a strong runner-up performance at SMC, the Red Storm have a low stick in Bendetson. The key for them will be their fourth and fifth runners and if they can close the gap to their third runner. Sixth ranked Bonny Eagle figures to be in the mix as well, they were just seven points back of Scarborough at SMC, the key for them is their fifth runner.

Cumberland of Rhode Island could spoil the Maine party though. Based on 2022 5k best they rank as the second best team in the field. Watch for 7th ranked South Portland, 8th ranked Camden Hills, ninth ranked Greely and 10th ranked Kennebunk all who hope to move up from their pre-meet rankings.