This year, the Lisbon High School boys’ track team will sneak up on no one.
“Nobody’s going to touch them,” said Winthrop coach Norm Thombs.
And while the Greyhounds, by the seeds for this afternoon’s Mountain Valley Conference meet at Cony High School in Augusta, should win by a hefty margin, coach Dean Hall is reluctant to even call his team the favorite.
“It’s going to be close,” said Hall. “You have to get into the top six, it’s as simple as that. You worry about places (today).”
Still, it’s easy to see where the rest of the coaches in the conference might get an idea like they have. Tyler Clark is seeded No. 1 in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. His time in the 3,200 is a full minute faster than the next seed time.
Clark is also part of the top-ranked 4×800-meter relay team for the Greyhounds, and part of a 4×400-meter team that should be in contention at the top.
“He is the premier long-distance runner in the state of Maine,” said Hall. “That’s how we feel right now. He’s been beaten once, by a kid from York (a Class B school).”
Lisbon also is seeded first and second in the 110-meter hurdles. Those points alone, between three runners, add up to at least 55 points. And then there are the two top-rated high jumpers, the best long jumper, the best triple jumper, the top shot put thrower and one of the best pole vaulters in the conference.
“Their supporting cast is great,” said Thombs. It’s not just Tyler Clark, which is what makes them so good.”
The race for second will be tight, and could turn into a race for the top should any of Lisbon’s athletes falter. Winthrop and Mountain Valley both have some quality, top-end talent. The Falcons are led by D.J. Gerrish in the hurdles, Dylan Cayer in the sprints and Tyler Jasud in the distance events.
Winthrop will rely heavily on its distance team, on Kyle Feeney in the sprints and in the jumps, and on Joel Dolling in the pole vault.
Competitive girls’ race
The annual saying in the MVC is that to win a girls’ track title, you have to go through Winthrop. As deep as Lisbon’s girls are this year, they are also young. That will allow Rambler veterans like Melissa Nguyen, who is favored in four events, to potentially take control of the meet one last time.
“We don’t worry about Melissa,” said Thombs. “Melissa will take care of Melissa. The rest of the girls, we just have to do what we’re supposed to do and hope it falls into place.”
Nguyen is heavily favored in both hurdles races, in the pole vault and in the 4×100-meter relay with the rest of the sprint team.
The fact that the Greyhounds cover so much ground will alone be enough to be a major factor. Lisbon has a seed in nearly every event.
“It’s going to come down to who doesn’t blink first,” said Hall.
“When you cover that many events, it’s tough for the rest of the teams,” said Thombs.
Also on the radar and well within striking distance is Livermore Falls. Kelsey Biliouris and Rebecca Leclerc are seeded atop the sprinters at the meet, and the Andies are deep in that discipline.
“Those girls can score a lot of points,” said Thombs. “The things that’s scary with them is that the points are solid. No one is going to touch them.”
On both the boys’ and the girls’ sides, there are several other local athletes in position to place well, including Brianne Bailey of Telstar in the distance events, several sprinters from Dirigo and a gaggle of distance runners from Mt. Abram.