Cross country and track haven’t been part of Sadie James’ vocabulary.
Well, unless we’re talking about a certain winter sport involving thin boards strapped to her feet, and the marks they make as the Mt. Abram High School student whooshes through the woods.
“We’re a big skiing family,” said James, a freshman at Mt. Abram High School. “We didn’t have a track program in middle school. I play soccer. I’ve always run a lot on my own.”
James jogs in solitude no longer.
Friday, her audience included big sister Emma — now a Nordic skier at Bowdoin College — calling out her split times. There were several hundred spectators watching in disbelief, too, clustered in the bleachers and behind the fence at Cony High School.
They all saw Sadie sprint past heavily favored Anna Doyle of Winthrop in the final 150 meters to swipe the Mountain Valley Conference girls’ championship in the 3,200.
How big an upset was it?
“I’ve only run the 3,200 one other time,” said James. “I don’t really know how (I won). I’m only a freshman.”
James’ time in the two-mile was 12:48.34, 40 seconds quicker than her qualifying standard in that previous start.
She also was runner-up in the 1,600 and fifth in the 800 at the MVC meet.
“The 1,600 is my focus,” James said. “After this, I’ll probably start preparing for the 16 and 32 and won’t even worry about the 800 at states.”
KNIGHTS’ BIG DAY
Four championships. Two top-five team finishes.
Not a bad day at all for Poland Regional High School at Saturday’s Western Maine Conference championship in Yarmouth.
Poland hasn’t yet developed the year-in, year-out sheer numbers of York, Greely, Falmouth or Cape Elizabeth — established powers in a loaded league. The Knights never fail to turn up two or three of the best overall athletes in the conference, though, and that star power again paid dividends.
Junior Morgan Copp won the javelin throw and freshman Emma Turton took top honors in the 300-meter hurdles for the Poland girls, who finished an impressive third overall.
Turton also ran fourth in the 200-meter dash.
Kendra Lobley, a state champion during the indoor campaign and a threat at all distances, tied for second in the 400, was runner-up in the 800 and claimed third in the 3,200.
Matt York led Poland’s boys to fifth in the final rundown. York was champion in both the high and long jumps, leading a one-two sweep with teammate Tony Whalen in the latter event.
York finished fourth in the triple jump.
Cam Woodford also scored points in multiple events for the Knights. He was second in shot put and fourth in discus.
Gray-New Gloucester’s girls has two individual champions and a fifth-place team result.
Amanda Peterson captured the 100 with a time of 13.15. Two-hundredths of a second separated Peterson from a sweep of the sprints, but she settled for second in the 200.
In another race that discouraged blinking at the finish, the Patriots’ Breanna Harlow reigned in the racewalk by a mere six-tenths of a second over Catherine Sevigny of York.
Jessica Mitaly and Mike Dejager finished second in the respective pole vaults. Joining Dejager as standouts for the G-NG boys: Ethan Ray (third, 400) and Erik Schrader (second, 200). The Patriots tied for sixth in the team competition.
RUN, RAMBLERS, RUN
Having only eight athletes need not be an impediment at a conference championship meet. Not if they’re the right eight.
Winthrop’s relatively tiny girls’ team didn’t score a single point in the jumps or throws at the MVC showcase. But five individual titles and two relay wins powered the Ramblers to team runner-up honors behind Lisbon by a hefty margin.
“It’s intimidating. I’m not going to lie,” said Kenzie Hill, who won the 800 and 1,600-meter races and ran the anchor leg in Winthrop’s 4×800 victory. “I’m so proud of all of us. It’s an amazing group of athletes, and we work together so well.”
Karen Rice (100, 200) and Grace Burnett (400) were champions. Anna Doyle and Sarah Warner each placed in a pair of individual events. Lauren Selwood also picked up a point.
Best of all for the Ramblers: Hill is the lone senior in the group.
It’s common for coaches to direct their son or daughter in a high school sport. And just as frequent an occurrence, probably, to have a niece or nephew under their direction.
Hard to imagine, though, the odds of this year’s arrangement at Lisbon High School, where assistant coach Doug Sautter works with three nieces and a nephew at the same time.
More unlikely: All four — Ben Kates, Jordan Kates, Justice Fraser-Gagnon and Gabby Ouellette — are freshmen.
Fraser-Gagnon was a pleasant surprise at MVCs, finishing second to teammate Briana Moore in the shot put after entering as the ninth seed.
“I had no idea I would be doing track this year,” Fraser-Gagnon said. “I was planning to play softball.”
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
Unlike spring counterparts baseball and softball, track doesn’t force its coaches to make painful cuts before the start of the regular season. In fact, the need for bodies at the season-ending conference and state championship meets generally means the more, the merrier.
“We cover all the events,” Lisbon coach Dean Hall said after his boys’ and girls’ teams each won their fifth consecutive MVC championship Friday. “We’re the one, true, small ‘d,’ democratic sport. Everybody plays.”
Still, there’s a flip side: Keeping the younger runners, jumpers and throwers interested while juniors and seniors walk away with most of the accolades and hardware.
That’s the inspiration for the annual Central Maine Freshman Championship meet, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bowdoin College.
Scarborough’s girls and Gorham’s boys won the team titles a year ago. Lewiston, Lisbon, Gray-NG, Poland and Telstar all sent a delegation to the meet.