When Oxford Hills senior Nick Plamondon was in sixth grade, his mother, Claire, convinced him give track and field a try.

Oxford Hills senior Nick Plamondon explodes out of the blocks on while practicing sprint starts Thursday at the Gouin Athletic Complex track in Paris. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

He had been a baseball player, but his mom thought his speed would make him a strong sprinter.

She was right. The fast and explosive Plamondon took to the sport quickly and became a fast sprinter and strong javelin thrower.

Last year, Claire was diagnosed with cancer. Watching his mom battle cancer has been difficult, but it has made him grateful that she guided him to track and field.

“Honestly, it’s probably the best thing that’s ever really happened,” Plamondon said. “My mom has been going through a lot, so it’s nice to see her happy and be able to do something she has wanted me to do, and do so well at it. Every track meet I think about how I am doing it for her and I’ve got to push myself.”

At last year’s Class A state championship meet, Plamondon finished ninth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.33 seconds, a personal record but just shy of a spot in the finals. In the 200, he placed sixth with a personal-best time of 22.85. An injured hip flexor and heat stroke prevented Plamondon from attempting all of his javelin throws, and he finished in ninth place (129 feet, 1 inch).

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This spring, Plamondon picked up where he left off last June. He won the 200 at Oxford Hills’ first meet with a nearly identical time of 22.86. Plamadon’s time (11.18 seconds) in the 100 was the fastest in the state during the season’s first few weeks, while his new PR of 158-8 in the javelin ranks third in Maine and second in Class A.

Plamondon also played football for Oxford Hills, primarily as a kick returner and on kickoff coverage. He’s a role player on the gridiron, but on the track, Plamondon is one of the Vikings’ stars.

“Being on a full team, you don’t get to be fully recognized because there are other kids you have to compete with, and I realized that track is honestly just a me thing,” Plamondon said. “I focus on myself, I am racing, beating my personal record, and it makes me feel good. It makes me feel alive when I run.”

Oxford Hills’ Nick Plamondon warms up with his teammates on Thursday at the Gouin Athletic Complex track in Paris. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

‘TAKES CARE OF EVERYONE’

Plamondon has a lot of responsibilities to juggle, including sports, school work and family commitments. Oxford Hills track and field coach Nate Danforth said that one of the biggest improvements Plamondon has made this year is organizing his time to fulfill all those commitments.

“Obviously, Nick has a lot on his plate,” Danforth, who also is an assistant for the Vikings football team, said. “He’s kind of the guy that takes care of everyone in his family. I guess the biggest growth for him is to balance everything that goes on in his life. He’s balanced his grades, put the time in with his family, and he’s been able to prioritize things as an adult and senior in high school should. He’s done a great job with that this year, especially.”

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Plamondon is family-oriented, and, to him, family includes his teammates and coaching staff. He said Danforth has a source of support to him since eighth grade when he moved to the Oxford Hills area from New Hampshire.

Danforth said helping athletes beyond sports is part of being a coach.

Oxford Hills sprinter Nick Plamondon runs the 100-meter dash during the KVAC track and field championship meet in May 2021 at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo

“You don’t want to talk about yourself, but I go out of my way for some of these guys,” Danforth said. “You take a guy like Nick who has all the promise in the world but he doesn’t have the dad figure at home, and they kind of rely on you for that kind of stuff, and the family does, also. I’ve given Nick rides home for years now, and he’s not just five minutes from the Gouin Complex, but 30 to 45, but that’s the kind of stuff you sign up for as a coach. It’s more than wins and losses, legacies; it’s every year there are kids that bring you back. You want to be there for him. All the coaches are good to him, but I love the kid, I lift him up when he needs it and I try to help whenever I can. It’s what you sign up for when you sign on the dotted line as a coach, especially in high school.”

Plamondon said Danforth has helped increase his confidence through pushing him to be his best in sports and being there for him away from the track and the football field.

“We have a really strong bond, and he has been with me the whole time,” Plamondon said. “Coach D has helped me with many things. In my eighth grade year I was struggling with a lot of things, and he came and helped me. Once I got to high school, he came and helped me with football and just kind of always helped me push myself and made sure I got my work done so I was able to do sports. He is always there, family-wise, making sure my family is always good, he’s just an incredible coach. He pushes me because he sees what I can do, and it’s just awesome to have someone who sees what I can do.”

Danforth said Plamondon’s explosive start to the season is a culmination of success in track, in football, his relationships with teammates and his athleticism.

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“His class of boys, Wyatt Knightly, Isaiah Oufiero, they’re all having big years, and so when Nick steps on the track it’s finally his time and he’s the guy on the track,” Danforth said. “I think he’s finally realizing that and taking advantage of that and I’m happy for him.”

Plamondon has high goals for his senior season: set school records, run sub-11 seconds in the 100 and about 21 seconds in the 200, place first or second in all three of his events at the state meet, and to stay healthy.

His mother’s health has improved to the point where she can watch him compete in person again.

“She hasn’t been able to go to a lot of my meets because she recently got diagnosed with cancer,” Plamondon said. “The thought of me being able to do this for her is probably the best thought ever. She’s going to probably be able to go to the next meet so it makes me want to do way better than I thought I could.”


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