Elizabeth Brown of Greely competes in the long jump at the Western Maine Conference track championships in Gorham on Friday. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)
GORHAM — Members of the York High School boys’ indoor track team are always competing, each trying to surpass a teammate.
“It’s always more fun with competition,” senior Zach Westman said.
Westman saw the effect in two ways Friday at the Western Maine Conference championships at the University of Southern Maine. In the 55-meter hurdles, Westman beat teammate Jon Burke, who entered as the top seed.
In the long jump, though, York junior Jon Rodrigues defeated top seed Westman.
“He’s always saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to beat you in the next meet,’” Westman said.
Rodrigues beat his personal best on three of his six jumps, the last a school record 21 feet, 3/4 inch. Westman also had a season-best 19-11 to take second.
“Generally, Zach’s the one beating me, and it drives me to do my very best,” Rodrigues said. “We’re good friends. It’s just a good team to be with.”
The York boys excelled in the field events. Ben Hay set a personal best to win the high jump at 6 feet, and Burke was second. Griffin Bean took the pole vault by a foot with a leap of 11 feet.
With their large team that racked up points in both the senior division and junior division (for freshmen and sophomores), the Wildcats had a strong overall showing, easily winning the team title with 181 points. Greely was second with 122.
The Greely girls used similar depth across multiple events — and an impressive distance double by junior Carolyn Todd — to take early control. The Rangers won the meet with 127 points, followed by York with 97 and Gray-New Gloucester with 85.
Todd, who said she has battled sickness most of the season, won the mile in 5 minutes, 23.88 seconds, with teammate Marin Provencher in second.
Then Todd came back to win the 2-mile by 33 seconds.
“I haven’t been running very often this season,” Todd said. “I’ve seen all of my teammates improving, and I really haven’t been, so it was nice to be a part of it.
The state’s best male distance runner, Yarmouth’s Luke Laverdiere, did not participate. The state’s top-ranked miler and 2-miler will race Sunday in an invitation-only high school mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. He does plan to compete at the Class B championships next Saturday at Bates College.
“We definitely have our eyes set on winning (the team) Class B state title, so definitely this is a good test meet,” Todd said.
Strong intrasquad competition also benefits Gray-New Gloucester’s sprinters, led by 55-meter dash champion Madison Post, a junior.
Post also placed second in both the 200 and the shot put.
“Practice is definitely a lot harder if you’re alone and have to push yourself,” said Post, who turned in a season-best time of 7.61 seconds in the 55. “When you have a bunch of other teammates right on your tail, it helps.”
Immediately after her sprint win, Post smiled, shook the hand of some of her competitors — including teammates Eliza Larrivee (fifth) and Jaley Martin (sixth) — and jogged quickly over to the shot put area. She barely had time to change shoes before she was told it was her turn.
“I just started throwing the shot this year,” Post said. “It was the very next throw and I got my PR.”
Post’s throw of 31-11 was good for second behind Lake Region’s Sam DeSouza (33-01/2).
Cape Elizabeth’s Darcy Cochran said Post’s presence also helped her.
A sophomore, Cochran opted to compete in the senior division because she wanted to run against the meet’s best athletes. She easily won the 55 hurdles. Her victory in the 200 was tougher.
Coming off the turn, Post had made up almost all of the staggered start difference and appeared ready to past by Cochran. Instead, Cochran stayed smooth and strong and won in a season-best time of 26.97 seconds, with Post matching her season best of 27.14.
“I could feel her right there and I just gave it my all,” Cochran said. “She’s probably the only one at this meet who can challenge me. She beats me one week and I beat her the next.”