LISBON – So you thought baseball was spring’s game of inches?
Not to Lisbon High School boys’ track and field seniors Joe Doughty and George Clement.
They know that the length of the lanyard keeping the stopwatch tethered to any coach’s neck represented more than the distance that kept the Greyhounds from winning a Class C state championship last year.
And that’s been difficult for both of them to accept, unfair as that may be, when they consider how much they left on the tape measure.
“We lost by a point and a half,” Clement said of the 81 to 79½ gap between Lisbon and longtime nemesis North Yarmouth Academy. “That hurt. That should have been our year to win. That was our best chance.”
“That’s one person doing better than they should have. Me and George definitely didn’t do up to our potential,” declared Doughty. “If we could have been one more spot ahead, we could’ve had it.”
For Clement, three extra inches — not much more than a big toe — at the end of his long jump would have spelled the difference between fourth and second place. That would have been a four-point swing for Lisbon.
Alternately, seven additional inches to Doughty’s shot put and nine inches tacked onto Clement’s triple jump would have been good for one rung higher in those events, equaling two team points.
That’s the kind of mathematics athletes do when they see the final weeks of their career flashing before their eyes.
Doughty and Clement are the most accomplished remnants of a team that won its fourth straight Mountain Valley Conference championship, finished as runner-up in the state meet for the third consecutive year … and then was gutted by graduation.
Sun Journal all-area athlete of the year Cameron Bubar, Kyle Huston, Erik Metzger, Tyler Campbell, Jake Cyr and Dan Conlon all graduated last June within hours of scoring points at their final state competition.
History now rides aboard the arms, legs and shoulders of the two Greyhounds who most keenly understand the significance of it.
“Tradition has always been a part of Lisbon track,” Doughty said. “We’d like to keep things going. We definitely don’t want to be the one team to let down the tradition of winning MVCs. That’s really pushed us to do what we can.”
Doughty enjoyed a breakout year in 2009, reigning supreme in both discus and shot put at the conference level. He settled for seventh in each event at states.
“Throwing is mostly all form, so I’ve definitely been working on form since last summer,” Doughty said.
Former teammates Steve Michaud and Rebekah Sullivan were integral to Doughty’s success, as well, enjoying repeated success at the season-ending meets while he learned in the shadows.
“Sophomore year is a big year for most kids, because they’re no longer the goofy freshmen,” said Lisbon coach Dean Hall. “Then with a lot of kids you see that same growth as they become juniors. That sophomore-to-junior transition was big (for Doughty).”
A steady performer who has scored points in the state long jump in each of his first three years, Clement has the potential to win any of four events.
In last year’s state showcase, the versatile, multi-sport athlete known to family and friends as ‘Junior’ scored in all four at the Class C level: fourth in long jump; fifth in high jump; sixth in 110-meter hurdles and triple jump.
Clement was diagnosed with a sports hernia a few weeks later, putting all hopes of an encore and dreams of individual or team state titles on hold. He saw only limited action in soccer and sat out the entire basketball season.
“I think it’s helped me get in shape for track a lot more,“ Clement said. “I know I need to work harder because I haven’t been doing anything. It’s really been pushing me.”
With only four other senior boys on their team, Doughty and Clement aren’t as much pushing teammates as trying to lead by example.
The cupboard isn’t bare, by any definition. Juniors Josh Pomerleau and Alex Branson and sophomore Morgan Reeves also scored state points last spring.
And there’s the unspoken challenge posed by a more seasoned Lisbon girls’ team, which also owns a streak of four straight MVC titles.
“We’re pretty much one, big, happy family,“ Doughty said. “We (the boys) lost a lot of key players. But there are a lot of freshmen this year, talented freshmen.”
Lisbon defeated runner-up Hall-Dale by nearly 100 points at last year’s MVC boys’ meet.
Don’t expect the Greyhounds to shy away from the boys’ side of the dual drive for five. Nor will they render any excuses based on who is or isn’t in camp.
“We’re trying to come up with a catchy name for it,“ Hall said of the streak. “We want to be there. We don’t look as unbeatable as we have maybe the last three years. You don’t have those studs until they’re ready to be studs.”
Well, if the coach is taking inventory, he has at least two.
Sun Journal All-Area Boys’ Track and Field
athletes to watch
Sadam Abdi, Edward Little (distances)
Faisal Abdillahi, Lewiston (middle distances)
Tanner Adams, Lewiston (throws)
Jacob Arsenault, Mountain Valley (throws)
Bryan Blackman, Dirigo (sprints)
George Clement, Lisbon (hurdles, jumps)
Kelton Cullenberg, Mt. Blue (distances)
Will Danieli, Gray-New Gloucester (sprints)
Joe Doughty, Lisbon (throws)
Matt Duka, Mountain Valley (jumps)
Steve Giorgetti, Edward Little (sprints, jumps, throws)
Connor Harris, Edward Little (jumps)
Jordan Hersom, Leavitt (sprints)
Travis Hutchins, Winthrop (throws)
Hussein Ibrahim, Lewiston (distances)
Brandon Jonaitis, Dirigo (hurdles)
Jaron Jones, Lewiston (distances)
Elliot Kahl, Monmouth (distances)
Ben Lewis, Telstar (distances)
Michael Lucas, Edward Little (hurdles)
Patrick McInnis, Monmouth (distances)
Faisal Noor, Edward Little (distances)
Matt Pellerin, Leavitt (throws)
James Philbrook, Edward Little (jumps)
Andrew Pulk, Lewiston (middle distances)
Taka Ranucci, Edward Little (sprints)
Ethan Ray, Gray-New Gloucester (sprints)
Morgan Reeves, Lisbon (jumps)
Derrick Roy, Lewiston (jumps, pole vault)
Jeff Ryder, Livermore Falls (sprints)
Cody Snyder, Gray-New Gloucester (sprints, pole vault)
Jeremy Theriault, Edward Little (middle distances)
Keith Tremblay, Edward Little (racewalk, throws)
Mason White, Leavitt (sprints)
Cam Woodford, Poland (throws)
Matt York, Poland (jumps)
Nick Young, Dirigo (middle distances)
Defending state champions
Class A – Bonny Eagle
Class B – Falmouth
Class C – NYA
Last year’s conference order of finish
MVC: 1. Lisbon, 2. Hall-Dale, 3. Madison, 4. Winthrop, 5. Boothbay
KVAC ‘A’: 1. Edward Little, 2. Lewiston, 3. Brunswick, 4. Mt. Blue, 5. Cony
KVAC ‘B’: 1. Waterville, 2. Belfast, 3. Erskine, 4. Maranacook, 5. Winslow.
WMC: 1. Falmouth, 2. Sacopee Valley, 3. York, 4. Traip, 5. NYA