Taking dead aim at his own personal records is putting Bates College men’s indoor track and field senior co-captain Matt Capone in select company with the top speedsters in NCAA Division III.

Capone, an Auburn native and multi-sport star at Edward Little High School, heads into Saturday’s State of Maine Championship on his home Walt Slovenski Track with a tailwind of confidence after a splendid January.

As good as this weekend’s competition will be, it won’t compare to the field Capone confronted last Saturday at the Boston University Terrier Classic. Capone clocked a personal best 22.50 seconds in the 200-meters at BU, good for 29th among the whopping 83 sprinters who lined up for a heat race.

The names behind the numbers made Capone’s time and placement even more impressive. In addition to a slew of unattached runners from track clubs throughout Greater Boston, other entrants in the 200 represented the University of Rhode Island, Yale, BU, La Salle and Temple, among other Division I schools.

“It was a very effective trip to Boston,” Bates men’s indoor coach Al Fereshetian said in a school press release. “We got everything we wanted out of the day.”

Bates didn’t fire the starter’s pistol on its indoor season until second semester, but Capone didn’t waste time building momentum. He won the 55 meters in a triangular home meet to christen the campaign on Jan. 13.

One week later, Capone chalked up his first personal record of the season by covering the 55 in 6.64 seconds, taking third in the 15-team Tufts Invitational.

Capone saved his most impressive effort of that weekend for the 200, foreshadowing his BU performance with a time of 22.93. It placed him second by five-hundredths of a second behind Eddie Bynum, an All-American in the event from Salem State.

The Bates women’s track team also has benefited from a strong local presence in the early season.

Jenna Ligor, a first-year runner from the town of Denmark (Fryeburg Academy), hit the wire in 1:04.23 to win the 400 meters at last Saturday’s University of Southern Maine Invitational. Ligor’s victory helped Bates secure a second-place finish behind the host Huskies in the event.

Leavitt Area High School graduate Cassandra Kirkland of Greene also earned the maximum points in Gorham, winning the weight throw for the Bobcats.

Jessie Smith of Farmington (Mt. Blue) is a sophomore distance runner for the Bobcats.

The women’s state meet is Friday at Bowdoin College. Two other area competitors are headed into the championship on a high note. Emily Poliquin of Lisbon and USM won the triple jump at her team’s invitational last weekend, while Louise Duffus of Raymond and Bowdoin College captured the shot put and weight throw in the Polar Bears’ home tune-up.

Fast breaks

The small college basketball season enters the home stretch now that we’ve torn the first page off the calendar. With Maine’s talent pool perhaps deeper than it has ever been, however, many local players are making headlines for the first time this winter.

Tiffany Seams of Central Maine Community College comes to mind. The Oxford Hills graduate has been on an absolute tear since returning to the Mustangs for second semester, giving an injury-plagued team a vital shot in the arm with her explosive backcourt play. Seams has topped 30 points in each of her last two games against Vermont Tech and the University of Maine at Augusta.

Seams also erupted for 28 points in a recent 57-52 overtime victory over Eastern Maine Community College, narrowly out-dueling another Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference alum in the process. Heather Groder of Wilton (Mt. Blue) chalked up a game-high 22 points for EMCC in that contest. Groder has been a go-to performer for EMCC since transferring from the University of Maine, where she competed in track and field.

Sara Fetterhoff of Jay is quietly carving out a sensational season at Lyndon State College in Vermont.

Lyndon State competes along with Maine’s community colleges in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, but neither Fetterhoff nor the Hornets had a problem with the perceived step up in competition against NCAA Division III Saint Joseph’s College on Jan. 24. Fetterhoff, a 5-10 sophomore forward, scored a game-high 21 points in Standish, helping the Hornets push the Monks to overtime before the hosts squirmed away for a 57-56 win.

Fetterhoff has been a consistent double-digit scorer and rebounder throughout the season for the Hornets, who are 11-3 and hoping for a national tournament invitation. Fetterhoff fashioned 25 points Sunday in a win at the University of Maine at Machias. Earlier in the season, Fetterhoff serenaded Paul Smith College to the tune of 27 points and 13 rebounds in a 79-28 rout.

Speaking of St. Joe’s, the Monks backed up their narrow victory over Lyndon State with a much easier 69-35 thumping of Newbury College on Saturday. Jamie Morrison of Auburn (Edward Little) got into the action with a pair of late free throws, while freshman Jaimee Brett of Otisfield (Oxford Hills) scored the final four points of the game.

Two former KVAC rivals are among the starting five for the men’s team at Southern Maine Community College. Oxford Hills grad Scott Slack is a captain and point guard for the Seawolves, while 6-foot-8 Josh Blodgett of Wilton (Mt. Blue) patrols the middle.

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