LINCOLN, Maine — The Caribou boys cross country team used a threat from another class to retain its Penobscot Valley Conference large-school championship at Mattanawcook Academy on Saturday.
The Vikings easily won their division, placing all seven varsity runners among the top 11 large-school finishers to total just 20 points, well ahead of second-place Old Town (79) and third-place Mount Desert Island (80) of Bar Harbor.
But the chance to score lower than small-school champion Orono, which won its fourth straight PVC crown, provided the main satisfaction of the day for Caribou beyond merely defending its 2014 title.
“Orono is Class C, but it was kind of in the back of our minds that we wanted to beat them because they’d beat us the past few races,” said Caribou senior Chathu Karunasiri, who led the large-school runners across the finish line in 17 minutes, 0.92 seconds, a time bettered only by small-school and overall race winner John Hassett of George Stevens Academy.
“That was a big goal for us, along with getting our pack time down and getting everyone together.”
Caribou’s top five runners finished within 53 seconds of each other, with sophomore Evan Desmond (17:13.17) and senior Tsion MacLeod (17:13.99) separated by .82 seconds in second and third places while sophomore Daniel Randolph (17:48.26) was sixth and senior Caleb Hunter (17:53.72) eighth.
“They ran extremely well,” said Caribou coach Roy Alden. “We’ve been working hard, things have started to come together and we’re getting packed up a little bit tighter these last couple of weeks. It seems like they’ve all had good races at separate times, but today pretty much all five runners had real good races so that’s a good sign.”
Jason Bartley of Presque Isle (17:14.93) and Peter Philbrook of MDI rounded out the top five individuals, while Gabe Piquette of Foxcroft Academy was seventh and senior Connor Archer paced Old Town with a ninth-place finish.
In the girls’ competition, Caribou scored 65 points to finish just six behind the champions from Mount Desert Island.
The Vikings were led by juniors Simone Michaud (sixth, 21:22.52), Emma Belyea (10th, 21:38.34) and Madeline Gudde (11th, 21:39.9) in edging Aroostook County rival Presque Isle by nine points for second place.
Caribou’s Julia Page, normally the team’s No. 1 runner, has been battling a calf injury which limited her to being sixth on the team in Saturday’s race at 22:35.17.
“Simone, Emma, Madeline, Emily Austin (19th, 22:15.06) and Sarae Greenier (21st, 22:29.61) all stepped up to try to make up the difference,” said Viking coach Thomas Beckum. “I would say we ran awesome by placing second [without Julia scoring points]]. I’m extremely proud of how the other girls ran together as a team and we are going to need everyone on the same page again this weekend to continue to run in the top three at Regionals.”
The Eastern Maine Championships are Saturday in Belfast.
In the PVC junior varsity championship, the Caribou boys took first behind Elijah Verhoff’s first-place performance in 18:16.61, while the Viking girls were second with Maren Moir leading the way by placing sixth in 24:11.07.
Sports Reporter Kevin Sjoberg contributed to this story.