If the Energizer Bunny had the ability to jump over hurdles, he would be Nolan Garey.

First-year Poland indoor track coach Joshua Kennison found out how fast Garey is this fall when Kennison coached the Knights’ boys soccer team.

When fall turned to winter, Kennison realized Garey was more than just pure speed.

Poland’s Nolan Garey, second from left, is first over the hurdles during the 55-meter hurdles race at the Class B indoor track and field championships last month at Bates College in Lewiston. Garey won the race and set a state meet record. Leavitt’s Stephen Pierre, far left, finished second. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“I was able to coach Nolan in soccer this fall and I immediately knew he was really athletic and very coachable,” Kennison said. “I was not surprised at how fast Nolan was (in track this winter), but I was surprised every day at practice when Nolan wanted more. He never wants to stop. He’s the Energizer Bunny.”

That never-stop attitude led Garey to new heights as he lowered his 55-meter hurdles times — lower than anyone else in Maine this season, and faster than anyone ever at the Class B state championship meet.

The record-setting performance in his signature event has earned Garey the title of Sun Journal All-Region Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.


“To me, it simply means I outworked the other athletes in this region. I don’t exactly have a nice facility to train on, nor any special equipment, but it’s about what you can do with what you were given,” Garey said of the recognition.

“His laser focus and determination to be the best he can be is unmatched,” Kennison added. “No one is harder on himself than Nolan.”

While his shrinking 55 hurdles time was a large part of what made Garey’s senior season special, it wasn’t his focus heading into the season.

“My initial goal was just to defend my title as the Class B state champion; I figured the times would come. And, boy, did they,” Garey said. “I improved by a total of 0.56 seconds in one year at my 55 meter hurdles, defended my title by a large margin, was No. 1 in the state and top 30 in the nation, and I broke the Class B state record as a bonus.

“All in all, yes, I’d say that exceeds my original standard.”

That Garey improved upon his title-winning junior season is no accident. Kennison said Garey goes the extra mile in training, and that he’s always looking for an advantage over his competitors. He even studies the performances of his teammates and opponents so he knows where he needs to be.


Garey said he considers himself a brand-new athlete this year compared to his junior year. He attributed that to what he calls “targeted core and strength training,” which he said drastically improved his performance from the beginning of the season to the end. In addition to helping him run faster, it also allowed him to be more stable going over the hurdles.

Garey’s coaches — Kennison and second-year assistant coach Eric Hall — had high expectations for him this season, and he took their coaching to heart.

“(Coach Hall and I) have the kind of connection where we know when to be friends vs. when to have coach-to-player interactions,” Garey said. “Coach Hall has a daughter (Kate Hall-Harnden) that’s a professional sprinter/jumper as well. Coach Kennison was also a Paralympian in the same field, so I believe that’s a huge advantage, as far as training goes.”

Kennison said Garey plowed through the training sessions they put him through.

It all added up to him gliding over the hurdles and blowing past the competition.

He broke 8 seconds for the first time in the 55 hurdles in the opening meet of the season, which, Kennison said, boosted Garey confidence.


In a late-January meet delayed, due to snow, from the normal Friday night to a Tuesday night — which Garey admitted could have been a reason for a slower performance — he surprisingly broke the Western Maine Conference and University of Southern Maine facility record with a time of 7.64 seconds. That time automatically qualified him for the New Balance indoor nationals meet.

It also was faster than the Class B state record, but that mark can only be broken at the state championship meet.

Four weeks later, Garey had his shot at the state meet.

He broke the Class B record in the prelims, crossing the finish line in 7.67 seconds to slip past the mark of 7.68 seconds that Donald Boyer of Foxcroft Academy ran in 2013.

That was only Garey’s second-best run that day at Bates College. He raced even faster in the final, finishing in 7.62 seconds to capture his second straight state title.

In doing so, he fulfilled the goal he set when he was in middle school.


“Truthfully, I had already broken the middle school hurdles record indoors at the Portland Expo and outdoors at Bath Middle School, but, as we know, middle school and high school is quite a big difference in athletics,” Garey said. “So, since then, it was always in the back of my mind that I really wanted to break them in high school as well before I left for college. So what this means is that I made my younger self very proud by not giving up and always being first one at practice and the last one to leave.”

If the state championship was about rewarding his hard work, the New England championships were about redemption for Garey. He didn’t come away with another victory, but that wasn’t the point.

“New Englands outdoors (last year), the starting gun was too quiet and a lot of us had slow times, and last year’s indoor season, I went down and raced while I was sick with a mask on,” Garey said, noting that he was well off his personal-best times in both meets. “This year, however, I was going into it prepared, healthy and seeded fourth place. I ended up taking one out and earning a bronze medal at the hurdles, which is my greatest accomplishment so far.”

Garey ran a prelim in 7.68 seconds and the final in 7.70.

He capped off his season with a fifth-place finish in his qualifying heat of the 60-meter hurdles at New Balance nationals, in a time of 8.39 seconds — good for 39th fastest in qualifying.



The name Garey was called out on the podium plenty of times for Poland this season, but Nolan can’t lay claim to all of those instances.

He was dominant in the hurdles and a key part of the Knights’ 4×200 relay team, which also won a state title. But his twin brother, Nick, was also a top point-producer for the Knights.

Aside from teaming up in the relay, however, those two names were never called at the same time.

By design.

“What’s really neat is they respect each other so much, they won’t compete against each other in their favored events, and I find that really great,” Kennison said. “Both of them usually come out on top in their races, so it’s been special being able to coach the Garey boys in their senior year.”

Hurdles became Nolan’s signature event, while Nick found a passion for the 200-meter dash (he finished second in the event at states, and third in the 55 dash).

Nolan’s love for the sport rubbed off on Nick. And in turn, that has helped Nolan as well.

“He wasn’t as into track at first, but now that he is, it’s been a huge help,” Nolan said. “I have someone I can rely on to train with every single day. Iron sharpens iron.”

As their senior year comes to a close, the twins have some unfinished work left. They are slated to star on the Knights’ outdoor 4×100 relay team, which Kennison said is looking to dominate.

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