AUBURN — The streak lives, but barely.
The Edward Little boys have won every KVAC championship meet since joining the league in 2004, but they had to overcome nagging injuries, an absence and a slow start to hold off a determined Brunswick squad at McMann Field Saturday.
The Red Eddies finished with 126 points, two ahead of the Dragons. The championship came down to the final leg of the final event of the day, the 4×400 meter relay, where anchor Jeremy Theriault rallied from fourth to second, close enough to the Dragons’ anchor to salvage the conference title.
“Generally, we had a good day,” said Edward Little coach Ryan LaRoche. “You can’t be disappointed with winning the meet, but Brunswick just had a great day today. I give all of the credit to their coaching and to their kids for coming through everywhere.”
“I’m not making excuses. We were missing the No. 1 seed in the race walk, the No. 2 seed in the javelin and I think the sixth seed in the discus, Heath Tremblay (attending a grandparent’s funeral),” he added. “That played into it some. That kind of cut down some seed points.”
Cony, Mt. Ararat and Lewiston rounded out the top five.
With a number of athletes battling shin splints and hamstring issues, the Eddies got off to a disappointing start in the morning events.
“We had a hard time finding places to make up for those points through the day,” LaRoche said.
Enter Theriault, an elite 800-meter runner who stepped into the 400 and not only scored, but won in 51.57.
“Today was my first time trying out the 400-800 double,” Theriault said. “There’s not much time in between. After the 4, my legs were just real heavy, but sometimes when you’re tired, you run your best races.”
“Jeremy Theriault was phenomenal in the 400, the 800, and then that leg in the 4×400,” LaRoche said. “If we had finished in fourth, we would not have won the meet today, and that’s where he got the baton, a good 10-15 meters back. He ran a 52-(split) after running a 1:58 in the 800 in a 51 in the 400. That’s just amazing stuff.”
Theriault’s 1:58.36 in the 800 broke the KVAC record. Unfortunately for him, Brunswick’s Will Geoghegan shattered the old mark in the same race (1:56.14), setting up a showdown with Theriault when the latter tries to defend his state championship at Cony High School next Saturday.
Geoghegan set three new KVAC marks on the day, in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, and the Eddies trailed the Dragons until Theriault’s win in the 400. From there, it was virtually a dead heat. EL got much-needed wins from Ken Treadwell in the javlin (157-07) and freshman Adam Robinson in the 1,600-meter race walk (8:18.73), as well as some other less-heralded, but no less critical, performances.
“Kenny Treadwell winning the javelin was huge,” LaRoche said. “Sadam Abdi finishing sixth in the 800 — he was seeded eighth, that was a huge step right there. Connor Harris ended up having a frustrating day, but still managed to finish fourth in the high jump in spite of some pretty serious pain in his shins.”
The Eddies scored second-place finishes from Midhun Gelder in the race walk, Michael Lucas in the 110 hurdles, Richardo Hairston in the triple jump, Steven Giorgetti in the javelin and the 4×100 and 4×800 relay teams. Alex Lee placed third in the shot put and fourth in the discus and Teven Colon fourth in javelin and 100-meter dash.
Lewiston sophomore Leo Gaghan won the shot put after scrapping the “glide” technique he’s used for most of this, his first year in the event, in favor of the more complicated “spin” technique. With a throw of 43-09, he was able to outdistance teammate Rudy Pandora by 5.75 inches.
“I’ve been doing that for about two weeks, and I guess this is the first week where I’ve really done it in a meet,” Gaghan said. “I’ve been averaging around 43 in practice. You get a lot more momentum when you do it.”
Few winners were more surprised than Garrett Hudanish of Oxford Hills, who won the high jump at 5-10.
“I thought I was runner-up because (runner-up Mason Travers of Lawrence) did so much better throughout all of the other jumps,” Hudanish said. “Getting there was pretty tough, but when I jumped 5-08, I felt like I just flew over it. I was fourth last year, so going to first was a pretty big jump. I don’t know how. During practice, I’m the lazy one out of everyone, so I guess it’s just my will.”
Other notable locals included Lewiston’s Kyle Palmer (third in 110 hurdles, fourth in 300 hurdles) and Derek Roy (third in pole vault, fourth in long jump), and Mt. Blue’s Kelton Cullenberg (second in 1,600, third in 3,200, fifth in 800), Zach Veayo (third in race walk) and Richie Brooks (third in high jump).
In Class B, Waterville also had a close call to keep its own championship streak alive. The Purple Panthers Nick Danner’s win in the javelin, the last event of the day, to edge Erskine Academy, 122.5-119, to win their fifth straight title. Belfast, Leavitt and Maranacook completed the top five.
Jordan Hersom led the Hornets by finishing third in the long jump and 110 hurdles and fourth in the 400. Elliott Wiegman placed fourth in the long jump and javelin, while Keith Lemelin took fifth in the 400 and 800, and the 4×800 relay team placed third.