For the past nine years, no high school track and field team in Maine has been as consistent as Lisbon. 

That consistency on the track and in the field has turned the Greyhounds into a Class C powerhouse, with the boys’ and girls’ teams claiming the Mountain Valley Conference crown . every year since 2006.

The boys added an additional piece of hardware to Lisbon’s ever-expanding trophy case last year when they captured the program’s first Class C title in Foxcroft, edging Orono by six points. 

For as consistent as the athletes have been year in and year out, nothing has been more consistent than the coaching staff. Since the start of the new millennium, the Greyhounds’ instructors have remained unchanged, headed by 37-year coach Dean Hall. 

“It’s having four coaches stay together,” Hall said. “When you have Hank Fuller, Doug Sautter and Dan Sylvester as your assistants and you stay together and everybody has a consistency and you have the same message: Work hard, get better. We try to make sure it’s personalized.” 

While assistants with the track and field team, Fuller, Sautter and Sylvester have head coaching experience. Fuller, who works primarily with the track athletes, was Lisbon’s cross country coach for 26 years before retiring at the end of the 2013 season. Fuller has been with Hall the longest, joining the track and field coaching staff in 1988.

“We all work well together,” Fuller said. “We all respect what each other’s skills are. Mr. Hall ultimately makes all the decisions, we just recommend things to him. He’s the kind of coach who knows how to put people in the right spots and that’s been one of the major keys to the overall success of the team.”

Sautter, who works with the jumpers, used to coach the boys’ basketball team. He joined Hall’s staff in 1997. Hall coached Sautter when he jumped for the Greyhounds during his junior year. 

Sylvester is the newcomer to the group, yet he has been part of the coaching staff for 15 years. He is also the coach of the boys’ soccer team, a position he’s held for the past seven seasons. 

Whether it’s the pros, college or high school, that consistency among the coaching staff is uncommon. 

“It’s rare,” Hall said. “The beauty of it is you know exactly what everybody’s doing. Doug’s going to work with the sprinters right now, I don’t have to be involved with it. I know exactly what he’s going to do and I trust him because they are, in a sense, head coaches of their area and it’s great.”

With Hall at the helm and his assistants by his side, the Greyhounds are closing in on completing a decade of dominance in the MVC. According to their athletes, a big reason for the continued success is the coaches’ ability to recognize which events best fit a particular member of the team. 

“They’re amazing,” senior Allie Bubar said. “They’re probably the best coaches I’ve ever been coached by. They just know what they’re saying. They just have this thing where they know where to put everybody, whether you’re athletic or not. They see what you can bring to the team.” 

Bubar — who competes in the discus, shot put and javelin — placed fifth in the discus at last year’s MVC meet with a toss of 75 feet, 1 inch. She finished ninth at state in the shot put (27-4.25). 

Bubar experienced her third MVC championship last year, which happened by the slimmest of margins. The Greyhounds claimed their ninth straight title, edging Boothbay by a mere 10.5 points. Her freshman year, Lisbon took the title over second-place Madison by 115 points. The girls’ average margin of victory at MVCs during the nine-year run is 56.4 points. 

The boys’ biggest scare came a year prior, in 2013, when they eked out the title over Hall-Dale by 3.5 points. There wasn’t much sweating going on for No. 9 as the Greyhounds finished 95 points in front of second-place Madison. Their average margin of victory at MVCs the past nine years is 50.7 points.

The close calls are good for the team, Hall said. 

“Sometimes when you roll in and win by a hundred you’re looking past the MVCs and looking toward the states,” Hall said. “It’s not always good. You want the kids to be sharp at every meet and that’s why for a long time, because we had a dirt track to play on, we’d simply go places against better competition. It’s not uncommon for us to go against the Brunswicks and the Lewistons and Oxford Hills for good competition.”

The conference titles have been nice, but the boys’ state title adds an extra layer of pressure and motivation for the upcoming season. And the Greyhounds know the target on their backs is as big as ever. 

“With the state title it’s a lot of pressure, not really pressure, but motivation because a lot of people are now looking at Lisbon and they want to take Lisbon down,” senior Charles Adams said. “With the state title at our hands, it’s more of an incentive to work hard and give it our best.” 

Adams played a large role in Lisbon’s first state title, scoring crucial points in all three of his events. He took third in the 300-meter hurdles, fifth in the 11o hurdles and helped the 1,600 relay team take third. 

Most of the seniors have been working with the coaching staff for four years. Others, like Travis Caton, joined later, but are reaping the benefits of Hall’s, Fuller’s, Sautter’s and Sylvester’s tutelage. 

“Since I’ve been doing it my sophomore year I’ve been improving and improving and it gives me an enormous sense of pride to be able to be part of something as great as we are,” Caton said. “It’s a very wonderful experience to have this coaching staff — the same four coaches — together for years and years. They have such amazing talents for who goes where.” 

Caton said he hopes to qualify for MVCs in either the shot put or javelin in his final year with the Greyhounds. 

“It’s easy sometimes to convince a kid that hard work and dedication will make you a better student-athlete,” Hall said. “You can succeed in the classroom and you can succeed on the track and there’s 19 events and we’ll find what’s ideal for you and sometimes it’s a matter of good fortunate that kids come our way and stay with it and they develop into wonderful people.” 

All the winning Lisbon’s done garnered an outpouring of support from the community. Case and point: a new track.

For the first time, the Greyhounds participated in practice on an asphalt track instead of the dirt track that had served the team since the program started. 

The goal now is to prove to the community that they were deserving of the upgraded facilities. 

“I think we have to prove it to our town that we deserved it,” Adams said.  “We see this every day and it can keep reminding ourselves that we have to beat ourselves every day so that way we can prove to the town that we deserved it.” 

The new track will allow the Greyhounds to host their first invitational in what Hall called a “thank you invitational” to the teams that have invited them to events in the past. The Lisbon Invitational will be May 9, and includes Oak Hill, Brunswick, Hall-Dale, Spruce Mountain, Oxford Hills and Falmouth.


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