The Waterville girls cross country team knows it’s going to take a monumental effort from its top-five runners for a chance to pull out a conference title Saturday morning.
Ditto the Maranacook boys.
“It’s going to be close,” Waterville coach Rob Stanton said. “If everything falls together on one day, you never know.”
The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships are Saturday at Cony High School, beginning at 11 a.m.
The Mountain Valley Conference championships begin at 4:15 p.m. today at the University of Maine-Augusta. Hall-Dale is a top contender to win the boys title.
“We have all the pieces to have a championship team,” Hall-Dale coach Chris Poulin said. “There will be some competition and, if any of my runners has a bad day, it can go to another team.”
Waterville and Maranacook will need standout performances from their top-five for a chance at victory Saturday.
The Camden Hills girls are favored in KVAC B, but Stanton says the Purple Panthers are poised to make a move.
“I’d like to think we can give Camden Hills a run for their money,” he said. “They beat us pretty handily at the Festival of Champions, but I think it’s going to be closer. Camden is one of the top three teams in the state regardless of class. If we can give them a run, I’d be very pleased with that.
Waterville senior Bethanie Brown easily won the Festival of Champions with a meet-record time of 17 minutes, 56:69 seconds.
She’s favored to win the overall title again Saturday, but the Panthers will need improved performances from Tiana Thomas, Erica Jenson, Lara Bluhm, Lauren Brown, Alexa Frame and Abigail Weston for a shot at the Windjammers.
“Tiana Thomas is improving steadily,” Stanton said. “Our five, six and seven runners are almost interchangeable. We’ll need a pretty big day.”
Added Brown: “I’m going for the win but this is a good, fun race. Camden is a really strong team but I think we can scare them a little bit. We have a pretty good team this year.”
Lawrence senior Erzsie Nagy could win the individual KVAC A girls title. She finished third at the Festival of Champions.
The Maranacook boys finished 14th at the Festival of Champions, tops among KVAC B schools.
Junior Jason Stevenson and Austin Landry lead the Black Bears as the team’s top two runners. Colby Watts, Kilton Webb and Luca DeAngelis should also score for the Black Bears, who are the defending KVAC B champs.
“Any time you win, you realize how fun it is,” Maranacook coach Rosalea Kimball said. “It helps you go after it again. I think the boys have a good shot at it. It’s going to be tough. We’ll have to beat Winslow, and it’s tough. But we do have a shot at it if we run well.”
Nick Shuckrow, who finished 43rd at the Festival of Champions, leads Winslow. Thomas Cassidy, Nason Lamphier, Logan Theriault, Caleb Ellis and Cody Speropolous give the Black Raiders a deep squad.
The Mt. Blue boys should also be in the mix in the KVAC A meet.
Justin Tracy and Josh Horne provide the Cougars a formidable one-two punch at the top of their pack.
At the MVC meet, Hall-Dale hopes to overcome injuries to a few of its top runners.
Harry Cheung (ankle) and James McAuliffe (hamstring) hope to compete today, Poulin said. Josh Ringer is the No. 1 runner for the Bulldogs, who handled their MVC competition throughout the regular season.
“This is different for me because I haven’t been in this position before,” said Poulin, whose team finished fifth at the MVC meet last season. “There is definitely a level of excitement this year.”
The Boothbay, Monmouth and Winthrop boys should also be in the mix. On the girls side, Boothbay is the frontunner, although Monmouth, Dirigo and Lisbon should contend as well.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640