AUGUSTA — There are 24 events and a multitude of heats each year during the Capital City Classic at Cony High School.

But the annual event — which took place under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s on the Taylor Harmon Track on Friday — is bookended, like many other track meets in Maine, by relay races.

Three relays — a 4×800-meter race, a 4×100 and a 4×400 — were on the docket Friday. The 4×800 kicked off the event. For the second straight season, Winthrop won the boys race, and for the second straight season, the Ramblers set a school record in the event. Winthrop finished with a time of 8:41.40, breaking the old record of 8:45.08.

“I think just having a strong team aspect where everyone wants the same goals and is willing to do their best to achieve them, willing to communicate and work as a team, I think that’s the key (to a good relay team),” said Winthrop senior Christopher Pottle, who was part of the winning Winthrop squad, along with Teddy Wagner, Gabriel Corey and Alfie Cognata. “And, of course, having fun as well. That’s what it’s all about.”

Cony (Kyle Mastriano, Sam Goldey, James Mooney and Jackson Veilleux) finished second at 8:47.67, while Mt. Blue (Andrew Robinson, Damian Wynn, Luke Doscinski and Ben Hatch) finished third at 8:47.67.

“Kids often get some of their best performances in relays,” Winthrop head coach Ed Van Tassel said. “Your teammates are always counting on you, but it’s just very concrete. ‘I need to run and do my best leg (to win).’ We try to encourage relays every single week for the kids on our team. You’re always scoring points toward the meet goal and what you’re trying to do. It’s a great opportunity for kids who may not place in individual events.”


Cony — with the team of Loralie Grady, Kate Sirois, Thea Kanaris and Morgan Fichthorn — won the girls 4×800 event in 11:30.13. The Rams were followed by Mt. Blue (Lucinda Carroll, Natalie McCarthy, Astrid Jones and Addie Colello) at 11:34.70 and Mount View (Evelyn Petrak, Hazel Abello, Julia Richards and Ilsa Petrak) at 11:51.54.

With each relay event a different distance, strategy comes into play when deciding who runs, and when.

Winthrop’s Gabriel Corey, left, takes off after getting the baton from teammate Alfie Cognata in the 4×800 meter relay during Friday’s Capital City Classic in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Working at practice pays off (in relays),” said Fichthorn, a junior. “Everybody has to do their part. “I’m usually last, so (the strategy) is to just catch up to someone. It depends on the situation, it’s either picking up speed or trying to push ahead.”

“They’re all a little bit different,” said Cony head coach Shawn Totman. “The 4×100, even if it’s the fastest kid, it’s the kid that I feel like can start us the right way and get us in a good position. I tend to rely on that. I know teams tend to rely on the fastest kid last. I don’t always look at it like that.

“The 4×800, clearly, is usually the distance runners,” Totman continued. “What I tend to like to do (in the 4×800) is put the second-fastest first, the fastest last, and piece together in the middle based on who we’ve got. It’s the same way with the 4×400, but it all depends on injury, the competition. But there’s an element of thought, of strategy, planning, talking to kids and seeing how their training is going. … I love the 4×800, because it kicks off a meet, most of the time, and it really kind of sets a tone.”

A staple of each relay event is the passing of the baton to the next runner. While not as key to the 4×800, the time it takes to pass the baton can be crucial in the 4×400 and 4×100 events.


“I piece (the team) together on handoffs,” Totman said. “Sometimes, it’s quirky. A kid can hand off to another kid and be terrible, but the kid he handed off to, if you switch (the order), it can be perfect. It takes a lot of practice and figuring out what’s the right mix for a 4×100. It’s amazing, sometimes, it’s not the fastest kids putting up the fastest times.”

The 4×400 holds a special place for runners and coaches, as it’s traditionally the final event of a meet. And if team points or close, it’s the definitive race that can determine a team title.

“The 4×400 is the best,” Van Tassel said. “It’s nice that it’s at the end (of a meet). At championship meets, they will wait until (every other event) is done. With the live scoring, you can see the (team) scores (during a meet) and you know, based off of (points) what is going to happen. Then, it’s that mix of kids (on the team). You have distance runners; you have jumpers that haven’t done anything on a track. You get sprinters in there. You just get that great mesh. … Those relays create those concrete examples that (track and field) is a team sport.”

Winthrop also won the boys 4×100 event (46.67) with the team of Wagner, Hunter Reynolds, Cody Cobb and Ben Porter, followed by Cony (47.04) and Erskine Academy (49.30).

Cony won the 4×100 girls race (55.18) with Leah Barrett, Batool Albraihi, Ayla St. Onge and Lizzy Lord, followed by Gardiner (55.61) and Winthrop (55.81).

Comments are no longer available on this story