Jim Harmon of Scarborough High loves the Festival of Champions. Brian Berkemeyer of Freeport prefers to stay away.

Each coach raised a state championship plaque last fall, in Class A for Scarborough and Class B for Freeport. They sport different philosophies on how best to defend their crowns.

Scarborough was among the crowd of 73 schools that made the trip to Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast for Saturday’s 14th annual Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions, which sets the stage for regional and state meets later this month.

“You get to see how you match up against everybody,” said Derek Veilleux, the boys’ coach at Cape Elizabeth. “And the course is fast so it’s a good chance to get some personal bests, to get the athletes’ confidence up a little.”

Scarborough won the overall boys’ title for the fifth time Saturday, by 42 points over Cumberland (Rhode Island) with Falmouth another 25 points back. Scarborough and Cumberland had been tied at four titles apiece. Harmon called the experience invaluable.

“This is similar to the New Englands,” he said. “You have so many people who are so good.”

That means runners who hold back at the start may find themselves stuck in traffic for much of their race.

“They have to go out fast and they have to worry about getting boxed in,” Harmon said. “It really forces them to work on those tactics and forces them to go out hard.”

The senior trio of Andrew Sholl (fourth), Connor Doherty (fifth) and Colin Tardiff (eighth) paved the way for the Red Storm victory. Junior Andrew Goodwin (41st) and sophomore Luke Grover (67th) finished off what would be an average time of 16:50 for the five scoring runners.

No other team managed to break a 17-minute average for its top five runners. Harmon said five of his top seven ran the fastest 5K times of their careers.

Falmouth also boasted a strong trio with juniors Jeremiah Sands (10th) and Ben Wyman (21st) and senior Sean Soucy (13th) finishing among the leaders.

Although both Scarborough and Falmouth compete in Class A and are close geographically, they compete in different conferences and, if not for the Festival, would not meet until the Western Regional on Oct. 24.

“This gives us a much better idea of how we stand up to them,” Harmon said.

Berkemeyer said he prefers to fly under the radar. He brought his Freeport team to the previous weekend’s Manchester Invitational in New Hampshire and spent Saturday afternoon running at Twin Brook, site of this year’s state meet.

“Manchester’s got a nice, steep hill in it,” Berkemeyer said. “If you go to Manchester, that sets you up for Twin Brook much better.”

Even in years when the state meet is in Belfast, Berkemeyer still shuns the Festival because he prefers hard courses to fast times. What’s more, by skipping Belfast until the state meet, Freeport will remain somewhat of a mystery to opposing teams looking to compare times.

Greely, the defending Class B girls’ state champion, also ran at Manchester rather than Belfast, leaving York’s boys (seventh overall) and Cape Elizabeth’s girls (sixth) as the top Festival finishers in Class B.

Among Class A girls’ teams, Falmouth, Massabesic, Scarborough and Bonny Eagle in the West and Brunswick and Cony in the East seem likely to contend for regional titles. Orono’s girls (second overall) and boys (eighth) appear to be the class of Class C.

Individually, Lewiston High senior Osman Doorow won the boys’ seeded race by nearly 15 seconds in 15:50 over Hampden Academy junior Paul Casavant.

“He looked so strong and smooth,” Harmon said of Doorow. “I’m sure he was pushing, but it didn’t look like it was hurting him.”

One surprise was the emergence of Camden Hills ninth-grader Augusta Stockman, who averaged a 6:08 mile pace to win the freshmen race with a time that put her seventh overall when results of the three races (seeded and unseeded are the others) were combined.