Leavitt’s Stephen Pierre curls over the bar during the high jump at the Class B indoor track and field state championships at Bates College in Lewiston on Feb. 19. Pierre tied for the best height but placed second due to a tiebreaker. He won state titles in the long jump and 55-meter hurdles. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“He’s a big-meet kid.”

That was Leavitt track coach Jamie Juntura’s response when asked how he thought standout junior Stephen Pierre would perform at the Class B state championship meet.

Pierre backed up his coach’s confidence, winning two events and placing second in another due to losing a tiebreaker for first place.

That came about a week after Pierre shared boys athlete of the meet honors at the KVAC Class B championships.

And just as he jumped farther than anyone else in Class B this winter, Pierre’s season went farther than Maine meets — he competed in both the New England Championships and the New Balance Indoor Nationals meet.

“A lot of big things happened, and I am really proud of that,” Pierre said.

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One more big thing for Pierre is being named the Sun Journal All-Region Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Being a standout track athlete is nothing new for Pierre, who burst onto the scene as a freshman. But he was always on the heels of others, and not the one who others were hunting for the top spot.

“I was really excited to see him hit those two state championship spots,” Juntura said. “He’s always been in the mix, but the past few years there has been some really strong athletes in every single one of his events just nudging him out of the top spot. Those guys really helped shape him for this year’s meet, and Stephen performed well.”

Leavitt’s Stephen Pierre reacts after clearing the bar during the high jump at the Class B indoor track and field state championships at Bates College in Lewiston on Feb. 19. Pierre finished second in the event, but won state titles in the long jump and 55-meter hurdles. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Pierre was the Class B state champion in the 55-meter hurdles (winning time of 7.83 seconds in the final) and the long jump (21 feet, 0.25 inch). His final cleared height of 6 feet, 4 inches matched that of York’s Gavin Davis, but Davis reached it in less tries, giving him the state title and pushing Pierre to second.

“I was really set on getting that high jump (personal record). I was shooting for 6-3 and got 6-4 at states,” Pierre said.

Pierre was seeded second in the event prior to the state meet, so he felt good about finishing in that same spot, especially since he set a new PR in the process.

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“When it comes to the high jump, he hit a big PR. We can’t ask any more than that,” Juntura said. “All of the jumpers were fighting for that top spot. It was a great event.”

It was in the hurdles that Pierre’s season got off on the right foot.

Competing at the USM New Year’s Invitational on Dec. 30, Pierre shocked even himself with a winning time of 7.77 seconds.

“The USM invitational really opened my eyes to what my potential was. Running a 7.77-second 55-meter hurdle was a huge surprise,” Pierre said.

Juntura also said he also was shocked by Pierre’s time.

“It was the right mix of being pumped up for the pentathlon and getting to wear spikes for the first time in the season,” Juntura said. “He had been doing a strength and fitness class at school during the first semester, so he came in primed for a big time. It was a big eye opener for me regarding this season’s potential.”

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That time also met the qualifying standard (7.96 seconds) for the New Balance Indoor Nationals, where Pierre would eventually place 151st out of 227 finishers with a time of 8.63 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles.

Before that, or New Englands — where he competed in all three of his signature events — or states, Pierre got to show his stuff at the KVAC B championships.

He won the 55 hurdles (7.78 seconds), high jump (6-1) and long jump (21-8.75). Pierre shared athlete of the meet honors with Winslow’s Joey Richards, who won the 55-, 200- and 400-meter dashes.

“We really use KVACs as a primer for states,” Juntura said. “The goal there was athlete of the meet at KVACs, and when he was able to hit that, it was clear we were ready for anything states could throw at us.”

Pierre called KVACs a “chill meet” for him, and a “great meet” for the Leavitt boys team, which won the team title.

“The vibes were good,” he said.

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Pierre’s only regret from an otherwise successful state meet was that his winning long jump mark wasn’t better, though he admitted that winning with any mark is something to be proud of. And he did set a new PR in the event this season, even if only by an inch.

“When you get to the level that Stephen is competing, at there are always ups and downs,” Juntura said. “He typically handles it very well. He’s matured a lot over the years. He’s always been a good-natured kid, but he has matured in the sport. He understands that it’s the little decisions that matter and not every meet is going to be a PR meet.

“So he sets performance goals. The push is always PR, but he has minimum standards as well. If he doesn’t meet those expectations he can get frustrated, but that usually is just motivation for the next time.”

Juntura said Pierre’s season exceeded the coach’s expectations. He knew Pierre could do what he accomplished at KVACs and states, but qualifying for nationals “was a cherry on top of what was going to be a great season.”

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