The Waterville boys cross country team will look to continue to build upon its impressive performance from last fall, when they won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title in dominating fashion by cruising past runner-up Belfast, 55-90. The Purple Panthers will be paced by sophomore sensation Nick Dall, who won the conference crown as a freshman (17:46.10).

“I’ve been more consistent with my training at about 40 miles a week,” he said. “I want to go sub-16 (minutes) and make top three in states.”

“He’s taking this season very seriously and I’m excited to see what the boys can do,” added first-year Waterville co-coach Hannah Bard.

A pair of juniors, Soren Nyhus (10th at KVAC B) and Connor Dolan, give the Purple Panthers another strong team heading into the year.

Winthrop has traditionally had a number of strong runners over the years competing in the Mountain Valley Conference with senior Jacob Hickey being the latest Rambler to shine. Last fall, Hickey took second (17:32.30) in the MVC championship race while helping lead his team to a solid third place finish. Both of those finishes were replicated a week later at the Western Class C championships.

“(He) has a tremendous work ethic and has got big goals,” said Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel.

Hickey’s teammate, junior Jesse Stevens, placed ninth in that race but has since transferred, leaving Van Tassel with concerns about his depth.

“The lack of depth this year will affect how the team approaches the season but the team has their sights set on some lofty goals,” he said.

Messalonskee will once again look for a strong season from Zach Hoyle. Last season, Hoyle took third in both the KVAC A championship and the Eastern Maine regional before placing seventh in the Class A state championship meet.

Monmouth coach Tom Menendez, who heads into his 16th season, said he was scrambling to find enough runners to field teams that could score at events. By the end of the season, his boys team finished in fourth place at the MVC championship race despite not having any runners finish in the top 25. He faces similar depth problems again this fall but will look to sophomore Kyle Gunnells to lead the way in the MVC.

Maranacook always has a strong program and this year should prove no exception. The Black Bears will be led by senior Ruslan Reitar (4th in KVAC B) and senior Zack Holman. Black Bears coach Rosalea Kimball says her team will be stronger than its fourth place finish in KVAC B a year ago.

“Our main weakness is in our numbers but the boys we have are strong and working well together,” she said. “As long as everyone stays healthy we have the potential to (have) a great season.”

At Cony, coach Shawn Totman is excited about the group of boys he has heading into the season.

“We think we have a team that can challenge for one of those spots at the state meet,” he said.

The Rams will miss the graduated Andrew Levesque, so a lot will be expected of seniors Bryant York and Aaron Emerson, as well as junior Jack Wroten and sophomore Caleb Richardson. As a freshman last season, Richardson turned in a solid 18th place finish in the KVAC championship race. The challenge for the Rams will be to rely on some of the other runners who can team up with Richards to help improve on their 10th place finish in KVAC.

Two programs that showed growth last year were Carrabec and Erskine.

Carrabec placed four runners in the top 25 at the MVC championship meet last fall, paced by junior Jacob Atwood and senior Jackson Sidell.

Erskine has always had good turnout. The Eagles qualified for the Class B championships for the third straight season and finished with a respectable 11th place finish, giving the program solid building blocks to add to this year.

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