Edward Little’s Makenna Drouin clears the last hurdle on her way to first place in the 300 meter hurdles during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet Saturday in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

OAKLAND  Maybe we saw the opening act of one of the next great Maine high school track and field careers Saturday in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference large schools meet at Messalonskee High School. It certainly felt that way.

Makenna Drouin is a freshman at Edward Little High School in Auburn. She is competing in her first-ever season of track and field, and she is dominating.

Saturday, Drouin took first place in the 100 meter hurdles, 100 meter sprint, 300 meter hurdles, and the 200. Four events, four wins.

“I wanted to do (track) in eighth grade, because I wasn’t doing softball anymore. I liked the idea of running. Not everyone likes running, but I like the idea of running. So I went into that this year,” Drouin said.

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the outdoor track and field season last spring, putting Drouin’s debut on pause. Edward Little track and field coach Rebecca Hefty got Drouin this year, and got a box full of potential she can’t wait to help unlock.

“She has never done track ever. Sometimes, those are the athletes you want, because they don’t know any better,” Hefty said. “She has so much to give, this week and next week. She’s only a freshman. We’re really proud of her.”

The 100 hurdles and 100 sprint are not typical event partners. They typically run one after the other at a meet, giving athletes little time to rest between the two. They’re the same distance, but that’s about the only similarity they share. Sprinters focus on covering ground with their stride. Hurdlers focus on adapting their stride into finding a rhythm between hurdles. Sprint speed and hurdle speed are not the same speed. These events do not go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

Drouin did not have any of the baggage that comes with already being a sprinter or hurdler. She came to Hefty’s tutelage a track and field sponge, ready to absorb everything. Why try both hurdles and sprints?

“Hefty wanted me to try it, so I went for it,” Drouin said.

“I could have her in a lot of events we haven’t tried. She could probably jump, but I found these four (events) are really successful,” Hefty said. “I’m like, ‘Do you want to try to hurdle? She’s like, ‘Yeah.’ And we went with it. She’s open to try anything, and those are the best types of athletes.”

Sometimes athletes are described as making it look effortless. At Saturday’s KVAC championship meet, that wasn’t Drouin. The effort she put in radiated from Drouin, but she made it look easy.

In the 100 hurdles, Drouin was slow getting out of the blocks, but rallied. She overtook her Red Eddies teammate Lillyann Watkins as they approached the sixth of the 10 hurdles. Drouin won the race in 17.14 seconds, with Watkins coming in at 17.70. In a 100 meter race, a half second is an eternity.

Drouin won the 100 in 13.24 seconds, beating her EL teammate Ella Boucher by .38 seconds. Again, in such a short race, that is a wide margin.

The 300 hurdles were never close. Drouin had a massive lead before the runners hit the corner, and that lead only grew as the race continued. Drouin’s winning time was 46.85 seconds, approximately four and a half seconds ahead of second place Audrey Bilodeau of Lewiston.

The 200, Drouin’s final event, was the exclamation point on her day. Seeded second, Drouin won in 26.69 seconds. Top-seed Ashley Richardson of Oxford Hills was second in 27.05.

Next Saturday, Drouin will compete in the Class A state championship meet at Massabesic High School in Waterboro. She has work to do in practice this week to be at her best.

“She didn’t get out of the blocks in (100) hurdles. If she wants to compete with the big dogs next week, she’s going to have to do that,” Hefty said.

Drouin is just getting started, but judging from her first KVAC championship meet, it feels like she’s starting something big.

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