Poland’s Nolan Garey, center, races to victory in the 300-meter hurdles, with a time of 42.52, at the Class B track and field state meet at Freeport High School in June. Garey also won a state title in the 110 hurdles. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

Nolan Garey was not to be denied the record time that he had been chasing for years.

Not even a bad weather day in early June was enough to stop him during his final track and field season.

The Poland senior won two state titles and eventually broke the record he had set his sights on, and has been chosen as the 2023 Sun Journal All-Region Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Garey started competing in hurdle events when he was 8 years old, a year or two after he joined the Panther Track Club in Poland.

“Basically, what happened, you know, decent sprinter and I’ve always been a taller kid, and somebody was like, ‘Hey, you should try the hurdles. It’s just sprinting, but more fun,’” Garey, now 6-foot-3, said. “I was like, OK. And so I did it and, you know, I ended up being pretty good, and I just stuck with it because I thought it was fun.”

Garey’s combination of size and speed made him one of the state’s top hurdlers. In middle school, he said, he tied the indoor state record and broke the outdoor record.


“That was when I really was like, OK, I want to break the one for high school,” he said.

The Class B high school record in the 110-meter hurdles was 14.53 seconds, which was set by Hermon’s Zachary Beaton in 2019.

Garey won the 55-meter hurdles indoor state title the winter of his junior year, then won the state outdoor title in the 110 and placed second in the 300. His time in the 110 was 15.67, more than a second slower than Beaton’s state record time.

He repeated as the indoor champion this year, setting a state record at 7.62 seconds — and was named the Sun Journal All-Region Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. That time was 62 hundredths of a second faster than he ran at the state meet the previous year.

He was seeking to improve nearly twice as much during this year’s outdoor season. He beat his personal record in the 110 by more than a second in the first meet of the spring, running a 14.59 on April 28.

Garey credited the training regimens of Poland’s new head coach Joshua Kennison and assistant Eric Hall for his significant improvement.


Kennison said that Garey’s success comes from a lot of work — training, following a diet, whatever it takes to be the best.

“He’s always doing something to improve his hurdling, whether it’s actually on the track or stretching and taking care of his body,” Kennison said. “He’s a well-maintained machine.”

A few weeks into the season, Garey ran a 14.50 in a meet at Wells. That time was better than Beaton’s state record, but state records can only be set at state meets.

Garey also had a 14.51 at the Western Maine Conference championships the week before the Class B state meet. He was confident he could break the state record.

The weather, though, got in the way. It was cold, and the rain was relentless. He compared running that day to a car hydroplaning on a wet road.

Garey won state titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles, but his time in the 110 was 14.64 seconds, more than one-tenth of a second short of the Class B record.


“I knew I could do it because when the big meets come around, I just have that adrenaline and I don’t let the pressure crack me. I use the pressure to my advantage,” Garey said. “So, normally, I would’ve crushed it. But, you know, the weather is something you can’t control.”

Poland’s Nolan Garey comes in first in the 110-meter hurdles at the Class B track and field state championships at Freeport High School on Saturday, June 3, 2023. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

Though falling short of the state record was disappointing, just winning the state titles that day was an achievement. In fact, the weather almost derailed his state title hopes.

“That right there shows you what Nolan can overcome,” Kennison said. “Oh, and he tripped on one of those state title runs coming out the blocks. …”

In his 110 preliminary heat, Garey slipped on his third step out of the blocks — “I almost fell on my face,” he said. He recouped, won his heat and was still seeded first in the finals. He said the early stumble ended up boosting his confidence in the finals, and he finished more than a second ahead of the runner-up.


Garey earned redemption the following week at the New England championships in Bangor, when he ran the 110 hurdles in 14.27 seconds, a new Maine all-time record. Maine all-time records aren’t separated by class and aren’t limited to only state meets.


“Even though I didn’t get that state record, I ended up breaking the all-time state record at New Englands, and now I’m the fastest high schooler in hurdles,” Garey said.

The Tuesday between the state and New England championships, Garey was at Bates College’s indoor facility for the conclusion of the Class B meet. He wasn’t competing, but he hung around the high jump and supported his teammates who were.

“I had a few teammates who still had to compete at states and, you know, why would I not be there for my teammates?” Garey said. “This is still the state meet. I wanted to watch them compete. I wanted to watch them hit their goals and get their jumps, and I was also helping out a bit.”

Though Garey put so much time and focus into pursuing the individual goal of setting the 110 hurdles record, the team aspect of track and field also is important to him.

In fact, one of his favorite moments of the season — along with setting the Maine all-time record — was seeing teammate Cadyn Langlois set the long jump (21 feet, 2 inches) school record.

“I saw his face, and I know how that feels. I know that feeling of accomplishment, and I was just so happy for him,” Garey said.


Kennison said that Garey’s willingness and ability to help his teammates is the thing about Garey that stood out the most this season.

Langlois had struggled to get the marks he was expecting this season. Garey said he talked to Langlois before the school-record jump, trying to help him know what to do and know that he could do it.

“He’s an incredible teammate that will push you to your limits,” Kennison said. “He’s just as emotional with you when you win, and he’s right next to you giving you a hug when you don’t do as well as you think you should.”

Kennison added: “His devotion to the sport is unlike any other. He’s also at the track helping coach our youth kids. He’s everywhere supporting everybody who’s on a track. He knows what it takes to compete at a high level, so he respects his peers and opponents always.”

Garey plans to continue his education and track and field career at the University of Southern Maine, as will his twin brother, Nick, who placed fourth in the 100-meter dash and sixth in the 200 at the Class B championships.

Nolan and Nick, along with Langlois and Giovanni Warren, each ran a leg for Poland’s state runner-up 4×100-meter relay. Nolan said that the brothers want to team up on a relay for the Huskies.

“We’re hoping we’re going to be either on the 4×1 or the 4×4 together, but we’ll see,” Nolan Garey said.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: