That was Zack Haskell’s outdoor track season in a nutshell. More specifically, the Gray-New Gloucester senior started his season off with three event wins, then nearly duplicated that performance at the Class B state championship. He had to settle for just two wins and a second-place finish.

Haskell went from good to great this season for the Patriots, and with his achievement on the state’s biggest stage he has captured the honor of Sun Journal All-Region Boys’ Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.

“I honestly did not think I’d be able to get two firsts and a second,” Haskell said. “My goal was to get better than (my competition), and luckily I did.”

Haskell had a good showing at Class B states as a junior, picking up a runner-up finish in the 100-meter dash, to go along with fifth place in the 200-meter dash and 14th place in the high jump. But he wanted to be better and do better.

So he did what every great athlete does to make the metaphorical jump: he worked at it.

“Leading up to the season, I trained my butt off like crazy in the weight room between basketball season and track,” said Haskell, who was also a star on the Gray-NG football and boys’ basketball teams.

“He worked really hard over the course of last winter really developing his strengths, and lifting weights, and working on his starts,” Gray-NG head coach Todd Mercer said, “and it really paid off for him this spring.”

One thing that held Haskell back in the sprints as an underclassman were his starts. Mercer said bigger, stronger, more powerful sprinters would get a 10-yard jump on Haskell because they were better out of the blocks. So Haskell made a “conscientious” effort to improve his starting technique this spring.

“He worked really hard … trying to develop his triple-extension position coming out of the blocks,” Mercer said. “He was much better coming out of the blocks this year than he was even the last two years.”

Haskell said his winning times in the first meet of the season were a big boost for his whole season, proving to him that his offseason work was worth it. And things kept getting better from there.

His best came at the Class B state meet. He ran personal-best times in winning both the 100 (11.25 seconds) and 200 (22.60).

Haskell said he “for some reason” perform’s better under pressure. And there was plenty of pressure racing against hometown favorite Ryan Bender of Mount Desert Island with state titles on the line. Haskell out-paced Bender in each race.

Winning the 100 dash gave Haskell momentum for later in the meet. It pushed him to a win in the 200 dash, as well as helping Gray-NG finish fourth in the 400-meter relay. But running multiple races can take a toll while trying to continually clear the bar in the high jump. Haskell made multiple successful clearances between the 100 and 200 runs.

By the time he got back to the high-jump mat after running the 200, Haskell was one of just two jumpers left. Haskell cleared 6 feet, but couldn’t match Foxcroft Academy’s Judson Smith at making it over 6 feet, 2 inches.

“It’s difficult to keep your momentum going and jumping good form once you’re running two races down, and actually three with (100) prelims,” Haskell said.

Haskell will get a chance to keep getting better at track in college. He will run at the University of Maine next year.

“I expect that things are going to get nothing but better and faster and stronger for him,” Mercer said.

[email protected]

2016 Sun Journal All-Region Boys’ Track and Field

FIRST TEAM

Zack Haskell, Gray-NG, Sr., 100

Nate Goulette, Leavitt, Sr., 200

Tyreek Rankins, Mtn. Valley, Jr., 400

Russell Allen, Edward Little, So., 800

Osman Doorow, Lewiston, Sr., 1,600

Nick Harriman, Lisbon, Sr., 3200

Avry Griffin, Telstar, Jr., hurdles

Hunter White, Dirigo, Jr., hurdles

Spencer Dunn, Edward Little, Sr., RW

Billy Bedard, Leavitt, Sr., LJ

Stefan Porter, Lewiston, Sr., TJ

Noah Hutchinson, Leavitt, Jr., HJ

Silas Gordon, Oxford Hills, Fr., PV

Alex Thibault, Poland, Sr., shot

Dalton Berry, Dirigo, So., discus

Cole Butler, Edward Little, Sr., javelin

SECOND TEAM

Dawson Stevens, Oxford Hills, Soph, 100

Nate Scott, Wintrhop, Jr., 200

Deandre James, Leavitt, So., 400

Nick Huston, Lisbon, Sr., 800

Ben Garcia, Gray-NG, Sr., 1,600

Jacob Gamache, Edward Little, Jr., 3200

Zach Copland, Edward Little, Sr., hurdles

Abshir Abukar, Lewiston, Jr., hurdles

Trevor Judd, Spruce Mtn., Sr., RW

Kyle Farrar, Mtn. Valley, Jr., LJ

Nate Pratt-Holt, Mt. Blue, Sr., TJ

Ben Ames, Winthrop, Sr., HJ

Joey Baumann, Leavitt, Sr., PV

Zack Wallace, Monmout, Fr., shot

William Frederic, Mt. Blue, Jr., discus

Chris Glover, Mtn. Valley , So., javelin


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.