HAMPDEN – While his teammates munched on ice cream sandwiches after Friday’s Pendale Invitational cross country meet at Hampden Academy, Bangor senior Casey Quaglia was thinking of the task at hand in next week’s conference championships.
“Right now, Caribou is our main goal,” he said. “In every meet Caribou has been in, they’ve beaten us. They’ve got some great runners and some great athletes.”
Quaglia and his Rams looked like they were in championship form Friday as Riley Masters (second), Stephen Salinas (fourth) and Branden Mountain (10th) joined him in the top 10, pacing Bangor to a win with 28 points.
Host Hampden Academy finished second with 53 points, Orono third with 57, John Bapst of Bangor fourth with 107 and Hermon fifth with 135. Old Town didn’t have a team score.
Quaglia captured individual honors, completing the 2.8-mile course in 15 minutes, 31.82 seconds.
The girls race featured a showdown of two teams who will be looking to battle for Penobscot Valley Conference and Eastern Maine Class B supremacy over the next two weeks: John Bapst and Old Town.
The Crusaders won with 37 points and the Coyotes finished a close second with 39. Hampden was third with 65, and Bangor fourth with 83. Hermon and Orono did not field team scores.
Hampden senior Molly Peverada, running for the last time on her home course, cruised to the win in 17:18.23, Old Town’s Hilary Maxim took second in 18:16.84.
John Bapst had the stronger pack – all five scorers in the top 10 – but coach Joe Capeheart knows the Crusaders will be in a dogfight with not only Old Town, but with Mount Desert Island, the defending PVC champion.
“It’s going to be the most competitive meet of the season,” he said. “MDI looks really good, [they] have to be the favorite.”
Capeheart also knows the Coyotes, the defending EM Class B champs, cannot be counted out, especially after getting Ashleigh Madden back in their lineup.
“They’re starting to get some depth back, that’ll make things more interesting at PVC’s,” he said.
The Crusaders will rely on their pack as they go into the championship season. Their pack time Friday – the difference between frontrunner Kim Spencer and fifth runner Maren Askins – was 47 seconds.
“That’s what we’ll sink or swim with, getting five girls up in the top 20 or so,” Capeheart said. “We don’t have that top runner, but the depth is what we’re going to do well with.”
Spencer finished fourth while Eve Jordan was sixth, Robin Bosse eighth, Holly Binette ninth and Askins 10th. Adrea Piazza took 17th and Deanna Kizer 22nd.
That effort negated a strong 2-3-5 showing by Old Town’s Maxim, Eliza Tibbits and Madden.
In the boys meet, the emergence of Salinas, Mountain and Stevie Applebee, Bangor’s third, fourth and fifth runners, has been pivotal to its success so far.
“The closer they get to the front, the better off we’ll be,” said Rams coach Ray Cook.
“During practice we’ve been working a lot on bringing the top runners together, and cutting the gap a little bit,” Quaglia concurred.
He added that the work ethic of Salinas and Mountain has been impressive.
“Steve Salinas and Branden Mountain have been putting forth a ton of work in practice, and its showing in meets,” Quaglia said.
Both Quaglia and Cook know they can’t take any teams lightly in the PVC title meet, particularly a scrappy young Brewer team and Ellsworth, who is always in the mix with Corey DeWitt.
“Brewer’s been doing great, they’ve always had a strong pack, and they’re improving,” Quaglia said.
“We don’t discount anybody when we get to that race. Everything changes at the end of that race,” Cook added.
And what about all that ice cream the Rams were eating?
“It’s never too cold for them to have ice cream,” Cook said, laughing.
Rounding out Bangor’s lineup was Joel Parent in 16th and Tyler Seekins in 18th.