Postseason meets kicked off for the University of Maine cross country teams over the weekend, as coach Mark Lech’s teams participated in the New England championships in Boston on Saturday.
Black Bears’ senior Jesse Orach continued his torrid senior year in leading UMaine to a top-five finish against a field of New England’s top runners.
The native of Gorham ran to a fourth-place finish over eight kilometers, covering the Franklin Park course in 24 minutes, 43.46 seconds.
UMaine wound up with a fifth-place finish in the team rankings, finishing behind Northeastern, Brown, MIT and Boston University. The field featured 34 scoring men’s squads.
Rounding out the Black Bears’ scorers were Jacob Johns, who finished 13th, Levi Frye in 28th, Josh Horne in 54th and Aaron Willingham in 57th.
The individual winner was Leakey Kipkosgei of American International College, who covered the course in 24:21.56.
The UMaine women wound up with a 24th-place effort in the 35-team competition, with America East rival New Hampshire taking first-place honors.
The Bears’ top runner was Hermon native Kaitlin Sautler, who covered 5 kilometers in 18:39.82.
The Black Bears will have a few weeks to prepare for their next meet, the America East championships, scheduled for Oct. 29 in Baltimore.
While UMaine kicked off its postseason over the weekend, the state’s high school runners will start their four-week string of championship meets next weekend.
Regular-season action concluded with multiple small invitationals throughout the state last weekend, and teams will battle for conference supremacy over this weekend.
Penobscot Valley Conference teams will hold their meet on Saturday at Old Town High School, with racing getting underway at noon.
Class B and C teams will race together, but separate champions will be crowned for each class.
Mount Desert Island senior Tia Tardy is coming off a strong performance in the Festival of Champions meet earlier this month, kicking past a handful of other runners late in the race to win, and her Trojans will be one of the teams to watch in Class B. Caribou, coming off a win at the Aroostook League meet, should contend as well.
George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill and Orono appear to be the Class C favorites.
For the boys, Caribou is always a team to watch late in the season, and like the girls, the boys won the Aroostook League meet last weekend.
Individuals to watch include Matt Kersey of Orono and John Hassett of GSA, and both of those teams will be favorites for conference supremacy.
Bangor, Brewer and Hampden Academy will join the rest of their Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference brethren at Cony High School in Augusta, also on Saturday. Racing in Augusta kicks off at 11 a.m.
As is the case with the PVC meet, the Class A and B competitors will run together, with the meets scored separately.
Hampden Academy sophomore Wyatt Lord will be one of the individual favorites.
Teams and individuals will not only be seeking conference supremacy, they will be looking to set themselves up for fast performance at regional championship meets, scheduled for the following weekend in Belfast and Cumberland, respectively.
The state meet will be held in Belfast on Oct. 29.