Rod White has always fielded competitive girls track and field teams at Old Town High School this decade, but Bangor and Brewer have dominated the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League during that time.
However, White’s Coyotes appear to have the talent and depth to contend for a league championship this winter, and both those traits were showcased in the first EMITL meet of the season Friday, as Old Town beat the two-time defending league champion Witches.
Two of those talented athletes, juniors Katie DeShane and Kayla Brooks, each won two individual events but, perhaps more importantly, made statements with impressive marks and times.
“Kayla Brooks was our most outstanding performer last spring, so we knew what she could do,” White said.
Brooks, a newcomer to indoor who had played basketball her first two years, set an Old Town school record in the triple jump with a mark of 35 feet, 1.50 inches while DeShane, who battled a knee injury last year, cleared 5-3 in the high jump and has visions of going even higher.
“She had three good attempts at 5-5, too, and I think that being the first meet of the year [clearing] that is a possibility, also,” White said.
Not only do the Coyotes have the talent up front in Brooks and DeShane — Brooks also won the 55 hurdles and DeShane the 55 dash — they have plenty of athletes to go around with a few more than 30 girls dressed in green and white.
“I’ve been averaging, on the girls side, probably around 20 [the last couple years], so that’s up quite a bit,” White said.
The scary thing is, only two of those girls are seniors, and waiting in the wings is eighth-grader Tia Jackson, who has built up a strong youth track resume in the jumping events.
Other key athletes will include newcomer Meagan Cousins in the sprints, Heather Soule in the long and triple jumps and 4×200 relay, Annie Cashon in the shot put, Julie Guay in the distance events and possibly Logan Clark in the jumps.
Clark, a junior, is recuperating from a knee injury suffered in outdoor last year, and White hopes to have her jumping by the middle of the season.
“She’s supposed to be cleared by mid-January. She’ll be an added bonus to the long jump,” he said. “We’ll see how she comes back from that.”
Bangor and Brewer have been the dominant forces in Eastern Maine since 2000 — Hampden Academy in 2001 was the last team other than the Witches or Rams to win a league title — but those teams appear to be coming back toward the pack just a little bit.
“Watching the meets on Saturday, obviously Bangor has plenty of numbers and the Hampden girls seem to be improved, too. It seems to be a fairly even league I think,” White said. “I don’t think there’s going to be that one dominating team like the past few years.”
That should open the door for teams such as Old Town, and possibly Orono, which may be thin in numbers but thick in talent.
The Coyotes will get a chance to see Bangor and Brewer for the first time shortly after the Christmas break, as they’ll meet those two teams and Orono in a four-way affair Dec. 29 at the University of Maine.
Old Town has had some talented athletes pass through its doors this decade — among them Hilary Maxim, Cassie Hintz, Eliza Tibbits and Kendra Gould — but with a more wide-open league than in past years, something special could be brewing in the Canoe City.
“For a while after the meet on Friday, I couldn’t remember the last time we had beaten Brewer,” White said. “We had a pretty good team back in 2007 with Hilary and those girls.”
The Coyotes finished second to Bangor three of the four years Maxim was on the team in league championship meets.
“This team has a chance to do well because I think the league’s more balanced,” White said.
Epic Finale 5K Sunday
The Sub 5 Track Club race series may have wrapped up a month ago, but a new season will commence Sunday.
The first race of the 2010 points series is technically on the final weekend of 2009, with the Epic Finale 5K set for Sunday morning in Bangor.
Registration tables will open at 8 a.m. in the lower lobby of the Maine Discovery Museum with a 5K walk starting at 9 and the run at 10.
Net proceeds from the event will benefit the Cancer Care Center of Maine, while the fourth annual race is sponsored by Epic Sports.
Fees are $10 now through Saturday, and $15 on race day.