Maranacook returns its entire starting lineup from a team that won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title and had an impressive top-four showing in a tough Southern Class B race.

And Black Bears coach Rosalea Kimball said the team has even more depth this season, meaning her starting seven runners could vary from race to race.

“They are pretty excited because they didn’t lose anybody and they are really looking forward to the first race,” said Kimball.

Sophomore Molly McGrail, who finished 11th in a fast Southern B regional race last October after winning the KVAC B championship, leads the Bears.

“I didn’t expect to be that good,” she said of last year’s postseason races. “I just went out there and did my thing. I’ve definitely learned that you have to go out faster because otherwise you would get boxed in.”

Maranacook also expects strong seasons from seniors Maddie Taylor and Laura Parent (fourth in KVAC B) and Kents Hill transfer Dana Reynolds, who has been impressive so far in practices.

Like Maranacook, Monmouth returns its entire Mountain Valley Conference championship team this fall and looks loaded for another great season. The Mustangs are led by the Hunt sisters, sophomore Kaitlyn (3rd in MVC) and senior Abbie (6th in MVC), as well as sophomores Amber Currie and Bea Stewart.

“We are going to work hard and are running harder than last year,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “Our goal is to improve in (Southern Class C) regionals and states.”

Entering her 25th season at Mt. Blue, Kelley Cullenberg returns another competitive team, which junior Maeve Hickey (ninth in KVAC A), sophomore Kathryn Cullenberg (15th in KVAC A) and senior Meg Charles (17th in KVAC A) will lead.

Last season, Mt. Blue took second place in KVAC A and fourth in the Northern Class A meet.

Cony coach Shawn Totman said his team also looks strong as the season starts.

“There is an amazing amount of potential for this team to have a good year,” Totman said.

Cony returns a number of quality runners from a team that qualified for the Class A state championship race last November, including senior Tara Jorgensen (14th in KVAC A) and junior Zina Gregor.

Yet, the Rams will be without key contributor from a year ago Talia Jorgensen, who is playing soccer this fall.

Waterville is rebuilding, coach Hannah Bard said, after the program graduated three of its top eight runners. Still, the Purple Panthers return junior Gwinna Remillard, who finished 10th in KVAC B last season. Bard, who was an outstanding runner during her time at Waterville, takes the long approach to growing the program despite the light turnout this season.

“It’s about keeping the traditions and values of the Waterville program that I experienced going,” she said.

Winthrop should be in the hunt to qualify for the Class C state meet, coach Ed Van Tassel said.

The Ramblers return their top five runners from a team that finished fourth in the MVC last season. Sophomore Maya Deming, who took seventh in the MVC meet last season, leads the way.

Oak Hill is back for a second year and looks to improve upon a top-five finish in the MVC meet last season. Junior Haley Gunn took second at the conference championship race with a time of 23:00.00, while sophomore Isabella Coulombe finished ninth.

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