LISBON — Mt. Abram’s Jeff Warnock first got into running by practicing on his own, his primary objective to be better than his friends during middle school recess football games. 

Little did the now-sophomore know that his scrimmage football practice (there was no organized football team in middle school for Warnock to play on) would turn into a passion for running. On Tuesday, Warnock ran to wins in the 4×800-meter relay (10:34.77) and the 800-meter run (2:26.85) and tallied runner-up finishes in the 1,600-meter run and the 4×400-meter relay. 

Warnock was one of many runners, jumpers and throwers at Lisbon High School on Tuesday who were competing for the first time in a high school meet. Since Maine canceled all spring sports in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, sophomores like Warnock are first-year track and field athletes. Couple that with Mt. Abram practicing on a dirt track and Buckfield, which five years ago didn’t have a track program, running in the grass and surrounding roads, and Tuesday’s meet was important for both school’s coaches to see exactly what their athletes could do. 

“We had a lot of new people coming out,” Mt. Abram coach Jake Boone said. “Today was just about experiencing what track and field is like and concentrating on that, and being glad we have a season. We’re glad we are out here and we are happy about the numbers we have out here. … Compared to two years ago, we are about half of what we were.”

While Warnock said he was glad to compete against friends in his events, one of his teammates, sophomore Julia Wells, found motivation in her brother Dillan Wells, a former Mt. Abram track and field athlete. Wells kept her brother in her head while she earned wins in the 1,600 (6:09.77), 800 (2:47.41) and the 4×400 (5:11.01) as the anchor leg. Not bad for someone competing in track and field for the first time. 

“I was pretty nervous that I was going to have a lot better girls against me,” Wells said. “I did cross country, and so I knew a lot of the competition, so I was praying that it wasn’t going to be too hard to beat, and I was kind of happy that I beat some boys in the process, too. I felt confident in myself that I would be able to do it.

“The 4×400 was actually the event that my brother won and he was last in line, so it was kind of like me in his shoes and that was the only thing that was pushing me at that point to try harder.”

Lisbon’s girls team excelled in many areas, earning 276 points in victory, particularly in the jumps and sprints. Kiana Goldberg, another sophomore in her first season, won the 100-meter hurdles (16.57 seconds) and the long jump (16-00.75), while Gabby Chessie nabbed the triple jump title with a winning leap of 32-11. Chessie also took first in 200-meter (28.58 seconds), and she and Goldberg teamed up with Destiney Deschaines and Mackenna Poisson to give the Greyhounds a 4×100-meter relay win.

The Mt. Abram girls were a distant second with a team score of 99, followed by Mountain Valley, Dirigo, Richmond and Buckfield.

The Lisbon boys team eked out a win with 181 points, 20 more than second-place Mt. Abram. Dirigo finished third, then Mountain Valley and Buckfield.

Aidan Laviolette won both the boys 300-meter hurdles (47.18 seconds) and the 1600 (5:16.17) for the Greyhounds, while teammate Adrian Blake took first in the pole vault (7-06), 4×100 (50.13 seconds) and was the runner-up in the 200-meter (25.95 seconds). 

“This is the first track meet for a lot of them,” Lisbon coach Dean Hall said. “The problem is the senior class of 2020 didn’t have a season, and so now there are a bunch of sophomores that are now seniors that were never given the opportunity to see how the program works. Now you have sophomores who become seniors and never were in the leadership role. A lot of track is repeating and seeing how you do things. It’s been a learning process.”

Riley Bedard won the 100-meter dash (12.65 seconds) for Mountain Valley’s boys team, which had only five athletes dressed Tuesday.

While the number of boys were down, the Falcons’ girls team has 12 athletes, which is about the same as usual. At Mountain Valley’s home at Hosmer Field, the track has been renovated but the discus area is being revamped, so Tuesday’s throws were baselines. 

“Coming down there were a lot of questions and nervousness — ‘I don’t want to do that,’ that kind of stuff,” Adam Curato said. “Relays went well, Brooke Chase did really well in the high jump, the throwers got three throws in and that’s huge. At Hosmer we just got a new facility in but they’re fixing the discus circle so my kids don’t really know how to throw a discus.”

Justice Gendron won the shot put for the Falcons with a top throw of 21-06.5.

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