Five or six studs, or depth by the dozen?
That’s the question every track and field coach faces when he or she considers the ideal construction of a championship team.
State titles often fall into the clutch of a school that can use those fingers to count its small but imposing number of multiple-event winners. Bonny Eagle captured the Class A boys’ title last year in that fashion, edging Edward Little and its en masse approach by fewer than nine points.
Even after that experience, Edward Little coach Ryan LaRoche is happy to have a team of many interchangeable parts.
EL demonstrated that top-to-bottom strength twice last week. Nine different individuals and two relay squads picked up individual victories Tuesday in the Eddies’ weekly Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference competition at Morse.
Then, in a vastly different format but one ideally suited to the Eddies’ personnel, EL won two events but walked away with the team title by a 101-86 margin over Scarborough in the Kiwanis Relays at Westbrook.
“It’s a great chance to test our depth,” LaRoche said. “You can’t win that meet with four or five guys.
“Right now you’re definitely looking to find those kids who can steal fifth or sixth in the state meet and get you a point or two. If you look at the last 10 Class A state meets, five of them have been decided by three points or less. You can’t just worry about the big kids who might win two or three events.”
Relays have been EL’s big-meet bread and butter for many years, and this spring is no exception.
The Eddies’ 4×800-meter relay team chalked up a winning time of 8:21.7 at Westbrook. That’s a full 15 seconds faster than the current No. 2 time in the state,
Jeremy Theriault, the lone returning runner from last year’s state runner-up 4×800 foursome, anchored that run with a leg of 1:58.
“He’s off to a blazing start,” LaRoche said of Theriault, also the defending individual state champion in the 800.
EL amassed 221.5 points at Morse, more than triple the total of second-place Mt. View.
Amazingly, Michael Lucas (100 and 300 hurdles) was the Eddies’ lone multiple victor. Other winners were Steven Giorgetti (javelin), Alex Lee (discus), Keith Tremblay (racewalk), John Barbosa-Neto (1,600), Theriault (400), Ricardo Hairston (triple jump), Tim Clark (pole vault) and Connor Harris (high jump).
Giorgetti, Lee, Tremblay, Harris and Wade Colon each snagged second-place points, as well.
The Eddies’ depth is typically tied to its ability to unearth diamonds in the rough. This year’s breakthrough performer is Hairston, a multi-sport athlete but newcomer to track.
Hairston achieved personal bests in the triple jump and long jump at Westbrook.
“We’ve only had four other athletes in the time I’ve been coaching go 40 feet in triple jump. We’re talking people like (University of Maine basketball player) Troy Barnies. We’re not talking slouches here,” LaRoche said. “So that’s been a nice surprise.
It’s the same old story. You always get one or two kids who don’t try it until their senior year. Not everybody’s going to pick it up in middle school. You just don’t know.”
EL’s schedule fits with the long-term approach, as well. The Eddies will see just about everybody who is anybody in Class A and B track before the regular season ends.
Westbrook gave EL a chance to see many of the old rivals from its former conference, the SMAA. Most weekly KVAC events include state contenders Brunswick and Mt. Ararat. An upcoming meet at Lewiston welcomes Bangor and Brewer to town. And EL will host perennial ‘B’ power and multi-time state champion Waterville this week.
“And we see a lot of top individual kids when we face teams like Cony and Messalonskee,” LaRoche said. “Looking at the big picture, we’ve already had a lot of kids qualify for the state and KVAC meets.”
DID IT AGAIN
On the girls’ side, Edward Little hopes that last season is beginning to repeat itself.
EL used a breakthrough victory in the Scarborough Relays one year ago as the springboard to its first Class A championship since 2001.
The Eddies did it again Friday, parlaying eight event victories into the overall crown.
Like the boys, EL won a dozen events in an overpowering win in the quadrangular meet Tuesday at Morse. Jaclyn Masters (800, pole vault) was the lone repeater.
HIGH TIMES IN THE HALF-MILE
Not that we encourage wagering on high school track. If you want to take a friendly shot in the dark at forecasting the winner of this year’s Class A boys’ 800 meters, though, here’s a suggestion: Take the tri-county delegation and give your counterpart the field.
Setting aside Theriault’s status as the defending champion in the event, Faisal Abdillahi of Lewiston and Kelton Cullenberg of Mt. Blue currently rank one-two in the state after a fabulous head-to-head battle at Don Roux Field last week.
Abdillahi edged Cullenberg by .13 seconds, with each hitting the wire in under two minutes.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
It doesn’t get much closer in a regular-season track meet than the Lewiston, Cony and Leavitt girls concluded their afternoon last week.
The Blue Devils won the meet with 96.5 points, with Cony (94) and Leavitt (93.5) completing a virtual photo finish in the team sweepstakes.
Maame Bonsu (high jump), Nicole Court-Menendez (racewalk) and Natalia Atkins (discus) won events for Lewiston. Leavitt’s Allison Fereshetian stole the show, posting the fastest 200 and 400-meter times in the state on the young season.
KNIGHTS NOT OUTCLASSED
Class B Poland enjoyed notable team and individual success last week in a boys’ and girls’ meet that featured Class A power Bonny Eagle.
The Knights lost to the Scots by only five points in the girls’ chase. Freshman Sophie Spiller won the long jump and triple jump.
For the boys, Matt York (high jump, long jump) and Cam Woodford (shot put) took first place.