Brunswick senior Joey Valliere competes during the Festival of Champions on Oct. 2 at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

BRUNSWICK — Another fall, another strong Brunswick cross country season.

In what’s become a near-annual occurrence, the Dragons find themselves smack dab in the middle of championship contention as postseason meets are set to begin.

The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meets are Saturday at Cony High School in Augusta.

“It’s been a different but successful season,” said Brunswick boys head coach Dan Dearing during practice Tuesday. “In past years, we’ve had runners who have been at the top or near the top of the state. Now we have a collection of solid runners, it’s different for me.”

Dearing, of course, was alluding to past standout runners Will Shaughnessy and Tyler Patterson.

And while they have since graduated, the program continues to surge forward.

Orono’s Kyle McClellan, left, and Brunswick’s Eli Palmer run during the Festival of Champions on Oct. 2 at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We’ve really put our noses to the ground and have been focused all season during practices and meets,” said Brunswick senior runner Joey Valliere. “We’ve tried to eliminate bad habits and I think we’ve really cut down on that, it has shown in the results.

With a victory at the Festival of Champions earlier this month at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, the Brunswick boys have all the confidence they need.

“Oh yeah, that was definitely big for us and our mindset,” said Valliere, who finished 15th overall out of 667 boys runners. “We’ve also learned that we can’t rely on that one victory for the rest of the season. We’re focused on one meet at a time, but that was exciting for all of us.”

Along with Valliere, the boys have been led at the top by Eli Palmer, Felix Battle, Dolan Pols, and Miles Logan.

Brunswick’s Madeline Kallin tries to stay ahead of the pack during the Festival of Champions on Oct. 2 at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Meanwhile, the Brunswick girls team has shown considerable improvements over the past few years, and this year is no different.

“The girls have made improvements over the last three years,” said Brunswick coach Heather Hoisington, whose team finished 14th at the Festival of Champions. “We want to continue to see those improvements as we head into the postseason.”

Sophomore Madeline Kallin has helped lead the Dragons this season.

“I think it’s been an awesome season,” she said. “For me, I’ve had multiple PR’s (personal records). As a team, we continue to improve and work with each other.”

Hoisington aded that she emphasizes team chemistry. Kallin said that focus has played a big role on race days.

“We have team dinners the night before each meet,” said Kallin. “Just getting to know everyone on both the boys and girls team helps us come together as a unit.”

Zoe Wilson, Abby Valliere, Ellie Gilman, and Freida Camacho round out the top five Brunswick girls runners. Wilson and Valliere are juniors while Gilman and Camacho are freshmen.

“We have a great foundation,” said Hoisington. The kids understand that they are part of a big program that has a winning history. So they have faith in the program and what the coaches are trying to put together.”

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