The biggest regular-season meet of the season is coming up, with the annual Festival of Champions on Saturday at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

Seventy teams are scheduled to send teams to the meet, including 65 from Maine and five from out of state. The teams from out of state include Colonel Gray High School of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Burrilville and Cumberland high schools from Rhode Island, Phillips Exter of New Hampshire, and Harwood of Vermont.

Kents Hill School senior Anne McKee is the top-seeded girl. With a seed time of 18:58, McKee is the only girl seeded under 19 minutes and a heavy favorite over No. 2 seed Lauren Brown of Waterville (19:30). Cony’s Anne Guadalupi is seeded fourth.

Sean Laverty of Cumberland, Rhode Island is the top seed in the boys meet, with a seed time of 15:56. Hampden Academy’s Paul Casavant is the highest seeded Mainer, and is seeded third. Messalonskee’s Zachariah Hoyle is seeded eighth, while Winthrop’s Will Vance is seeded 22nd. Jacob Hickey of Winthrop is seeded 25th, one spot ahead of Luke Thombs of Monmouth.

One of the highlights of the race is seeing runners and teams you won’t see again until the state meet.

“I’m interested to see how we stack up to the Eastern Maine schools,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said.

With 1,717 runners expected to race (960 boys, 757 girls), the day is broken into six races. The day begins with the girls unseeded race at 11 a.m., followed by the boys unseeded race at 11:45. The girls freshman race is at 12:30 p.m., with the boys freshman race at 1:15. The girls seeded race will start at 2 p.m., with the boys seeded race following at 2:40. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 3:20 p.m.

• • •

The Winthrop boys looked strong in the Mountain Valley Conference’s midseason meet at the University of Maine at Augusta on Wednesday. The Ramblers scored 42 points to finish in first place ahead of Boothbay (57 points).

The Ramblers had three boys finish in the top 10, with Hickey taking second (18:09.7), Vance third (18:29.1) and Jesse Stevens ninth (19:18.8). It was the effort of the fourth and fifth runners, Caleb Fortin and Vincent Scott, that enabled Winthrop to overtake Boothbay, Van Tassel said. Fortin placed 15th (20:29.9) while Scott placed 18th (20:53.7).

“I’m pretty happy with how those guys really stepped up,” Van Tassel said.

Boothbay is the defending boys cross country MVC champion, but Van Tassel said his team is ready to be the favorite as the regular season winds down over the next couple of weeks.

“We’re definitely happy to put the target on our back. We haven’t been in this situation before, at least not in my time (at Winthrop),” Van Tassel, now in his fourth season as the Ramblers coach, said.

• • •

The Waterville girls and boys looked strong in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet hosted by Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield on Friday. The Waterville girls had the top three finishers and four of the top five, while the boys took the top four spots and five of the top six.

Brown won the girls race with a time of 18:16.9, more than a minute better than teammate Cecilia Morin (19:23.3). Ella Ruehsen was third for the Purple Panthers (21.59.3), while Alison Linscott was fifth (23:08.7).

On the boys side, Nick Dall led Waterville, taking first in 17:02.7. Rounding out the Panthers hold on the top four sports were Billy Chambers (17:20.4), Soren Nyhus (17:43.2) and Andy Chambers (18:24.0).

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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