Monmouth Academy hurdler Libby Clement practices Thursday in Monmouth. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

LISBON FALLS — Monmouth’s Mya Sirois reached the halfway point of the 100-meter hurdles at the Mountain Valley Championships, neck-and-neck with teammate Libby Clement, before putting on a final, winning burst at the end. Several minutes later, it was Clement running to victory by herself, the conference champion in the 300 hurdles.

The MVCs just highlighted what the regular season had pretty much proved. When it comes to hurdling, no one in Class C does it as well as the Mustangs.

They work together during practice,” coach Tom Menendez said, “but they’re competitive as all heck once they get to the starting line.”

The state championships are Saturday, Monmouth again has a strong girls’ team, and a group of talented hurdlers has been a big reason why. There’s Sirois, a sophomore, who will be the top seed in the 100 at Mt. Blue High School. There’s Clement, a junior, who will be seeded first in the 300. And there’s Anna Lewis, a junior, who was the second seed in the 300 going into MVCs and is a good bet to pick up the points as well.

Success, even dominance, in a discipline is nothing new with Menendez’s bunch. Last year, the Mustangs had three of the top six javelin throwers at the state championship. And this year, the hurdlers have helped fill the void.

“I love working with them,” Lewis said. “In practices we kind of divide up into sprinters and hurdlers, and then long distance and throwers and all that, but it’s usually the three of us and a couple of other sprinters, and we all feed off of each other.”

“We’re all so close, so it’s good points-wise,” Clement said. “It’s great having all three of us be so close. … We push each other.”

The tandem is a relatively newly-assembled group. Lewis was the first to start hurdling in eighth grade, while Clement started track in her freshman year and, coaxed by then-junior Emily Grandahl, decided to give hurdling a shot.

Monmouth Academy hurdler Mya Sirois practices Thursday in Monmouth. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“She was the one who recruited me to do track,” Clement said. “I was friends with her, she told me to try hurdles, and I ended up loving them.”

Last year, Sirois came on board after following the lead of the group in her last season in middle school.

I thought it looked fun. And I love it,” said Sirois, who placed third in the state in the 100 hurdles as a freshman. “Probably freshman year was when I realized ‘This is serious, and I’m pretty decent at it.’ So I focused on it and tried really hard.”

Grandahl’s graduation didn’t change the notion within the group that there was a good thing going this season.

It’s mostly (that) we just try to push each other. It’s not ‘Who can be better than the other,’ it’s definitely ‘Who can make the other one better,’ rather than constant competition,” Lewis said. “We critique each other, but it’s never anything bad. It’s always ‘You can do this, and shave a second off.’ “

Lewis also credited coach Norm Thombs with helping the hurdlers reach their potential.

“He’s amazing,” she said. “He catches anything.”

The three are close in terms of talent, but their approaches to the event differ.

Mya and Anna usually four-step the hurdles, and I try to three-step all the way,” Clement said. “I find it crazy that both of them can be so fast four-stepping.”

Menendez said the differences extend to their personalities.

Libby’s a very serious person, but for the most part she’s laid-back, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky. When the race is over, the race is over, and good, bad or indifferent, she’s glad it’s over,” he said. “Mya, probably in the middle, is real serious in that if she doesn’t have a good race she gets a little bit down. And then Anna is the perfectionist. She’s the one where if she has a great race, that’s great, but if she has a bad race she broods over it for a little bit.”

All three, though, get results. At the MVC championships, Sirois had Clement on her heels the entire race, which she said brought out the best in her.

Without her, I don’t know if I would be able to run as fast as I do,” Sirois said. “It’s nice to have someone always there pushing me in my races.”

Clement, Sirois and Lewis finished first, third and fourth, respectively, in the 300 hurdles, and while Clement wasn’t challenged that day, she will be at the state meet – and she said she’s looking forward to it.

At the (Capital City) meet, (Cony’s Anna Reny) was really pushing me, and I know she’s crazy fast,” she said. “I was trying to stay with her and that’s how I got my PR. Pushing off of people usually helps me.”

After a season of pushing each other, it’s what they’re used to.

Each one wants to be better than the other one,” Menendez said. “But once the race is over, it doesn’t matter who’s first or second or third. They’re both congratulating each other, ‘Good job’ and everything else, and ‘Let’s see what we do on the next race.’ “


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