Red Eddies right on track

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AUBURN – Emily Dodge soared more than 32 feet to win the triple jump. She hardly nicked a hurdle as she flew down the front stretch in the 100-meter race, and in the 300-meter hurdles, her finishing kick looked more like the finish of a 200-meter dash.

“I was really nervous coming in,” admitted Dodge, who wore the smile of a seasoned veteran. “I didn’t know what to expect. All through middle school, I was in the middle of the pack, so I expected it to be that way here, too.”

The upside to all of this for the Edward Little girls’ track program? Dodge is just a freshman.

“She only picked up track last year,” said EL girls’ coach Rebecca Hefty. “It’s like Lindsey Visbaras all over again.”

Visbaras, who graduated last year, holds the school record in the triple jump at Edward little, and jumped similarly to Dodge as a freshman, according to Hefty.

Paced by several top finishes by a gaggle of underclassmen, the Edward Little girls smothered the competition at their season-opening home meet Thursday, scoring 149.5 points to beat Lawrence by 71 points. Mt. Ararat finished in third, by half a point at 78, with Maine Central Institute fourth at 74 and Messalonskee in fifth with 16.

For the Eddies, the win was nice, but seeing their 16 freshmen and a host of sophomores and juniors exceed early-season expectations was even better.

“I only have five seniors,” said Hefty. “

Dodge took first place in the triple jump with her big effort, another first in the 100-meter hurdles and second to teammate Kelsey Pettengill in the 300.

Other event winners for EL included Muriel Schwinn in the 100-meter dash, Teresa Ranucci in the racewalk and the discus, Amanda Burgess in the 800-meters, Carolyn Large in the 3,200-meters and Abby Downs in the pole vault.

The Edward Little boys’ team, not to be outdone, put up a big win of its own Thursday. Chris Ash won three races – twice with a relay team – and took a second-place once, while Garner LaValley posted two individual wins and a third with a relay to lead the Eddies to a 153.5-74 win over Lawrence in the five-team meet.

“We were relying on Chris to fill in on a few of those points,” said EL boys’ coach Ryan Laroche. “For him to come in first today is phenomenal. Clearly he played a leadership role, and Garner, last year Garner was a great athlete doing track. Now you’re starting to see Garner be a great track athlete.”

Ash stepped into the leadership role Thursday in place of veteran Colby Brooks, who sat out the meet with a slightly pulled hamstring.

“There was no need to risk it at this point of the season,” said Laroche. “It’s just not worth it now. We know what he can do.”

“We have a stacked team,” said Ash. “I didn’t even know Colby was going to be out today. I was expecting to be racing for second in the 100, and (Mt. Ararat sprinter Will) Perry is one of the top three sprinters in the conference.”

Mt. Ararat took third place in the boys’ meet, with MCI in fourth and Messalonskee in fifth.

Edward Little, meanwhile, took the first meet of the season as an opportunity to work out a few bugs – and try to get some early qualifiers in for the state meet.

“You go into the first meet hoping to get a few qualifiers, to get some people to get their times close to what they had at mid-season last year,” said Laroche. “We got that in a lot of places in the meet, and we had some kids hit some of their personal bests already.”

In addition to Ash and LaValley, EL got wins from Nick Kazar in the 3,200-meters, Brian Despres in the discus, Nate Chantrill in the shot put and Josh Clark in the pole vault.

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