Third place in a triangular track meet doesn’t sound like anything special.
Well, not all last-place finishes are created equal.
The Poland girls were a relatively distant third in their meet last Thursday.
That’s the headline. Now the fine print: The Knights (44) were in the mix with host Greely (73) and York (68), arguably their two toughest foes in the Western Maine Conference.
Poland won five individual events and placed second in two others, establishing itself as a candidate for its best finish ever when the entire WMC reunites for the conference meet Saturday, May 28 in Falmouth.
“We talk about it a lot, and Poland hasn’t been top five in the conference in much of anything,” Poland coach Mark Soehren said. “Our boys were second a few years ago. But I think especially for our girls this year, top five or maybe even top three is a good, realistic goal.”
Teams with championship aspirations need multiple athletes capable of scoring points in multiple events. Poland flaunts at least four girls with that potential.
Kendra Lobley, the reigning Class B champion at 800 meters, has concentrated on stepping up her game in the 1,600 and 3,200.
The senior won her mile event at Cumberland by 12 seconds in a time of 5:10.4. She topped her closest pursuer in the two-mile by 15 seconds.
“She’s brought down her time in the mile considerably,” Soehren said.
Emma Turton won the 300-meter hurdles and finished second in the 200-meter dash. That’s consistent with her priorities. Turton is considered one of the favorites along with reigning champion Olivia Thurston of Waterville in the hurdles at the upcoming state meet.
“That’s her focus,” Soehren said. “She was part of the 4×100 relay that placed at states last year, and she’s a kid who could score points in the 200.”
Sophie Spiller (triple jump) and Morgan Copp (javelin) also were winners against York and Greely, who were second and third, respectively, in the Class B meet a year ago. Poland finished fifth.
On the boys’ side, Cam Woodford recently cleared 50 feet in shot put. That distance would have been good enough last June to win the Class B championship. Woodford took third place as a junior.
“That’s a longtime goal that was a long time coming,” Soehren said.
Lewiston coach Jamerson Crowley helped launch a four-team “meet of champions” last year.
Crowley, formerly the coach at Brewer, invited Brewer, Bangor and Edward Little to the showcase on the third weekend of May. The concept was simple and time-honored: Iron sharpens iron.
“You look at those teams over the last 10 years. They’ve all had multiple individual state champions. Lewiston (2006) and Bangor (2007) have been team champions. Edward Little, it seems like they finish second every year,” Crowley said. “We kind of thought, man, if we could get all those teams together every year the week before the KVAC meet, we’d all be very well prepared.”
The idea was no one-year wonder. Bangor will take its turn hosting the event at 10 a.m. Saturday.
It is scheduled to rotate to EL next year and Brewer in 2013.
The Blue Devils haven’t quite kept pace with the likes of Bangor and EL at the state level in recent years, but Crowley’s rebuilding efforts are beginning to take shape.
Lewiston flaunts a contender for conference meet points in almost every event.
“We’ve developed some depth in distance and depth in sprints,” Crowley said. “We’re kind of figuring out what we have for combinations in the relays.”
In last week’s home meet against Class B Belfast, Lewiston won the 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800.
Luke Olehowski was a winner in the two shorter relay events along with twin brother Drew, as well as an individual winner in the 200. Ali Hersi (1,600), Kevin Lavertu (3,200) and Kyle Palmer (110 and 300 hurdles) also stood atop the pod ium.
Throws and jumps have been strengths all along. Rudy Pandora and Leo Gaghan are Class A contenders in shot put. Gaghan is the defending KVAC champ, although he’s being pushed by Pandora, a relative newcomer to the discipline.
“Rudy went over 48 feet at the last meet. That really got him back on track,” Crowley said. “We’d like to get him to 50 by states.”
Crowley also celebrated the efforts of Jake Dumas, who topped 40 feet in triple jump for the first time.
Livermore Falls hasn’t basked in the attention given to some of its Mountain Valley Conference rivals in recent years.
That might be changing. The Andies’ progress as a program was on display last Wednesday, when the Livermore Falls boys and girls swept a four-team league meet at Telstar.
Led by Shaunna Damboise (winner in 300 hurdles, shot put and javelin) and Lindsey Jacques (100, long jump), Livermore Falls nearly doubled up its soon-to-be teammates from Jay, 102.5 to 54.5, on the girls’ side.
Ashley Sidney (discus), Erin Gats (400) and Annika Durrell (800) also won events for the Andies.
Hurdles, jumps and throws propelled the Livermore Falls boys to a 104-77 victory over Mountain Valley. Thomas Bizier (110 hurdles), Tyler Halliday (300 hurdles), Mike Armstrong (shot put), Alwayne Uter (long jump) and Jacob Freeman (high jump) were individual winners.
Dirigo’s Bryan Blackman tallied 33 points in a boys’ meet Friday at Gardiner. Blackman swept the 100 and 200 meters and shared the victory in the 4×100 relay with Jason Baldinelli, Nick Young and Michael Chow. He also tied for fourth in high jump.
Silvia Lutick (400) and Kayla Gaudin (high jump) took first place for the Cougars in the girls’ competition.