BREWER, Maine — Last year was a learning experience. This time around, there’s some hardware up for grabs.
When the Brewer girls head to the University of Southern Maine for Monday’s Class A state track and field championships, the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League champion Witches will have a few things on their side, such as experience, top seeds and confidence.
“It helps knowing what you’re up against and not being totally surprised when you go down there,” said Kaitlin Noyes, one of 12 Brewer seniors.
The Witches will be among a slew of teams hoping to end Scarborough’s four-year state championship reign.
Monday’s preliminary heats start at 10 a.m.
Brewer does have a number of high seeds at its disposal, such as a second-ranked 4×800-meter relay team, the top 400 runner in Kira Giroux, who is also seeded second in the 200, the 1-2 punch of Noyes and Alison Keane in the pole vault, where they’re seeded 2-3, and MacKenzie DeGraff, ranked fourth in the 55 dash and third in the long and triple jumps.
Knowing the athletes in the Southern Maine Activities Association are itching to get on an actual track after competing at the Portland Expo all season, DeGraff realizes the Witches are going to have to raise the bar.
“We’re preparing for them to run faster times so we’re going to need to step it up a lot,” said DeGraff, who earned a personal-record in the long jump at last weekend’s Eastern Maine Indoor Track League championships, going 16 feet, 7 inches.
“Last year my best was low 16’s which was good, looking at the Southern teams they’re all jumping 16 all the time so this year I feel a lot more confident,” said DeGraff, who is among five jumpers — Muriel Schwinn and Emily Dodge of Edward Little in Auburn and Emilia Scheemaker and Lauren Blaisdell of Scarborough — who could emerge with the gold.
Noyes and Keane have been gaining a lot more confidence in the pole vault.
“It helps knowing that you can get those higher heights and we’re excited to get to those heights,” said Noyes, who has cleared 9 feet and Keane 8-6.
While teams like Brewer, Edward Little and Brunswick are loaded with top seeds, Scarborough’s winning formula the last four years has been its depth.
“[Their kids] may not be the best in the event but they have a lot of people who place in the events,” DeGraff said.
On paper, the meet appears to be tantalizingly close, with the Witches, Red Storm and Red Eddies separated by a mere four points.
“There’s like four-five teams [including us] that could win. It’s there to take. We’re going to try our hardest to win,” DeGraff said.
Noyes added, “We’re just focused on our training right now, we’re ready to see what happens.”
In addition to her high ranks in the open 400 and 200, Giroux will likely anchor Brewer’s 4×200 relay. The Witches’ 4×800 owns a seasonal-best of 10 minutes, 19.91 seconds while Michelle Haluska will look to garner a top-seven finish in the 2 mile.
Other local high seeds include Bangor’s Dee Wilbur, who owns the best Class A time in the 55 hurdles at 8.81 seconds, while she’s also a No. 4 seed in the 400 at 1:01.74, with teammate Brittney Chapman right behind in fifth (1:02.73).
EMITL shot put champ Cote Theriault earned a personal-best of 33-5 last week, earning her the No. 6 seed.
On the boys side, Brewer junior Ben Sinclair has a great chance at another three-victory day, as he’s Class A’s fastest man in the 55 dash, 400 and 200.
Sinclair has times of 6.68 in the 55, 49.59 in the 400 — the fastest in state history indoors — and 22.79 in the 200 to his credit.
Lonnie Hackett of Bangor should place well in the 400 and 200 also, and the pole vault is full of Eastern Maine stars such as Sean Seekins of Bangor and Chase Daniels of Brewer.
Seekins and Daniels are also the third and fifth seeds in the high jump while Steven Rice of Brewer is ranked third in the hurdles.