ELLSWORTH, Maine — While the Caribou boys made a bold statement in the first major high school cross-country invitational of the season, the John Bapst of Bangor and Caribou girls locked horns in a battle of the region’s top two teams.

The Crusaders had just enough pack power to overcome a strong 3-4-5 finish by the Vikings, placing all five scoring runners ahead of Caribou’s fourth and fifth runners to win Saturday afternoon’s Ellsworth Invitational 56 points to 59.

Defending Eastern Maine Class B girls champ Mount Desert Island finished third in the 11-team field with 92 points, followed by host Ellsworth with 133 and Presque Isle with 134.

The Viking boys tucked four finishers in the top 10, including individual champ Steven Melbourne, and outdistanced runner-up Ellsworth 35 points to 80.

Foxcroft Academy finished third with 92, Sanford fourth with 98 and MDI fifth with 122.

Melbourne surprised himself in winning the boys’ race, out-kicking Foxcroft Academy senior Graham Pearsall to win in 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

Joining Melbourne in the top 10 for the Vikes were Christian Sleeper in fourth, Tim Freme in fifth and Finn Bondeson in sixth. Jake Michaud in 19th rounded out coach Roy Alden’s scorers.

Other top 10 finishers included Ben Chapman of Ellsworth in third, Sanford’s Jake Gaudreau and Phil Lenhardt in seventh and eighth, Jason Johnson of Presque Isle in ninth and Zack Clarke of Sanford in 10th.

On the girls’ side, Sanford’s Vicky Hewey outran a throng of Eastern Maine’s top individuals and won going away in 17:14, 29 seconds ahead of runner-up Heather Spurling of MDI (17:43).

Caribou’s Hannah Saunders, Dayna Michaud and Mary Jo Sheehan finished third, fourth and fifth, but Bapst had the better pack.

Kim Spencer and Mary Carmack led the way with sixth-and-seventh place finishes, while Sarah Dickens was 12th, Maggie Bryan 13th and Laura Donovan 18th to round out the scorers.

The difference turned out to be the outputs of Dickens, Bryan and Donovan, which eliminated the output of the Vikes’ top three runners.

Other top-10 finishers on the girls side included Dacie Manion of Old Town in eighth, Presque Isle’s Alicia Palmer in ninth and Chelsea Oldfield of Foxcroft in 10th.

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Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports freelancer Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.