Usually at the midway point in the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League season, the top five teams from last year’s championship meet — Brewer, Bangor, Hampden Academy, Orono and Old Town, in this case — clash in a battle of the conference’s top teams.
This year, however, the pot has been stirred. Big time.
Waterville, Messalonskee of Oakland and Brunswick of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference will join the five EMITL titans Friday at the University of Maine for what should be one of the best regular-season meets in Maine high school track and field history.
Here’s a little appetizer for what should be a fun meet: The last two Class A state winners, Brunswick and Bangor, will be competing, traditional power Waterville will be on hand as well as some of the state’s top athletes in Kristin Slotnick, Eric Anderson, Liam Cassidy, Kira Giroux, Ben Sinclair, Dee Wilbur, Cote Theriault and Brittney Chapman.
One of the country’s best triple jumpers, Waterville’s Shelby Tuttle, will not compete in this meet as she is entered in this weekend’s Dartmouth Relays.
Tuttle, also a star hurdler, has already built quite a resume this winter.
At the Dec. 27 New Year’s Relays at the University of Southern Maine, she broke former Messalonskee star Jesse Labreck’s all-time mark of 38 feet, 4.25 inches with a leap of 38-4.50, which has her ranked fourth in the nation.
In addition to Tuttle, other athletes from teams in this meet, including Will Geoghegan of Brunswick, will compete at Dartmouth.
Geoghegan, a junior, certainly hasn’t disappointed so far this season, as he owns the state’s top marks in the mile (4 minutes, 26.93 seconds) and 2-mile (9:53.50).
Waterville star Dominic Alexis was also slated to compete at Dartmouth but has been dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons, according to coach Ian Wilson.
Brunswick, Brewer and Bangor appear to be legitimate contenders on the girls’ side.
The defending KVAC Class A champion Dragons are paced by Slotnick, arguably Class A’s top sprinter and the reigning state champ in the 55-meter dash, 200 and long jump.
She also holds the state Class A record in the 200 at 25.80, set in 2007.
The stage will likely be set for a 200 showdown with Chapman of Bangor, Giroux of Brewer and Slotnick expected to be in the fast heat.
“With Chapman, Kira and Slotnick, that could be some kind of race. We’re really excited about it,” Brewer coach Jamerson Crowley said.
Brunswick also features one of the state’s top 4×800-meter relay teams and clocked a solid time of 10:37.40 at the Bowdoin College Relays this season.
That race should be a thrash between the Dragons and Brewer, two of the state’s distance running powers.
The Witches are the EMITL’s record-holders in the event at 10:03, and all four runners from that quartet are back.
Brunswick’s top distance runners include sophomores Meghan McDonough and Farren Welzel and freshman Kathleen McMahon while Brewer’s deep crew is sparked by Michelle Haluska, Sara Chavarie and Brooke Madden.
Throwing state powers such as Brunswick and Waterville into the mix to go with EMITL rivals Bangor, Hampden, Old Town and Orono should add fuel to the fire of defending league champ Brewer.
“You can’t count out some of the dynamite individuals for both Orono and Old Town. You’re talking about a lot of top athletes in a lot of events,” said Crowley.
Other key assets for Brewer include Mackenzie DeGraff in the jumps and Kaitlin Noyes in the pole vault and middle distances.
Bangor’s Theriault is one of the state’s top shot putters while Chapman has put up solid marks so far in the sprints.
The Rams also boast one of the state’s best hurdlers in Dee Wilbur, who set a Black Bear Relays meet record with an 8.88 clocking in the 55 hurdles last weekend.
Bangor will also need dynamite performances out of sprinter/jumper Kendra Lenz.
Other athletes to keep an eye on are Shelby Wheeler, Holli Kennison and Ariel Meaker of Orono and Katie DeShane and Logan Clark of Old Town.
The boys meet should be just as exciting.
Brewer junior Ben Sinclair, arguably the top sprinter in the EMITL, will get some formidable competition from Messalonskee star Eric Anderson.
Anderson hasn’t competed since the New Year’s Relays, where he clocked a 6.85 in the 55-meter dash.
Sinclair owns a seasonal best of 6.80 in that event to go with 23.00 in the 200 and 51.11 in the 400.
“Eric Anderson is as fine a sprinter as there is in the state,” Crowley said.
Triple-threat Sinclair, along with technique specialist Chase Daniels, looks to lead the Witches.
The defending Class A state champion Dragons will still possess plenty of firepower despite being minus Geoghegan.
Brunswick has a fine sophomore sprinter in Matt Hatke, and junior distance runner Liam Cassidy should pick up the slack in Geoghegan’s absence.
Cassidy has run 10:05.26 in the 2-mile so far this winter.
Hampden Academy has shown to be a tough team so far in the EMITL ranks, and the Broncos have two of the state’s better sprinters and jumpers in Matt Toothaker and Jadrien Cousens.
The Broncos are also fairly deep in the distance races with Michael Bommarito and Darik Frye.
Frye and Bommarito own the conference’s top two times in the 800.
Bangor is led by sprinter Lonnie Hackett and jumper Sean Seekins.
Other athletes to watch include Matt Claar of Orono, Steven Rice of Brewer and Brandon Winchenbach of Old Town.