ORONO, Maine – Even though team competitions bring out the best in track and field athletes, it’s the individual confrontations that take center stage at this point in the season.
That was the case Friday night at the University of Maine field house, as some of the state’s best high school athletes from the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference gave fans quite the midseason performance.
Steven Rice of Brewer, Ben Cummings of Mount Desert Island, Ryan Feeney of Hermon, Darik Frye of Hampden Academy, Will Geoghegan of Brunswick and Ben Sinclair of Bangor excelled on the boys’ side. Grace Maclean, Megan Hogan and Brittney Chapman of Bangor and Sara Chavarie of Brewer were among those who shined brightest among the girls.
The Bangor girls and Brunswick boys went on to capture team titles in a meet that featured approximately 346 athletes.
The Rams tabulated 122 points while Brewer earned runner-up honors with 87.
Brunswick took third with 68 points, followed by Edward Little of Auburn (65), Hampden (53) and Hermon (33).
The Brunswick Dragons accumulated 95 points in the boys meet while Bangor finished second with 80. Edward Little had 69, Hermon 62, Brewer 56, Hampden 45 and MDI 24.
In the boys meet, the evening’s best battles occurred in the 55 hurdles, 400 meters and 800, which were won by Brewer’s Rice, Mike Ballback of Brunswick and the Dragons’ Geoghegan, respectively.
Rice, who had been battling hamstring issues earlier this season, posted a personal-best of 7.99 seconds to outduel Kenzell Crawford of Brunswick, who was second at 8.05, cracking the 8-second barrier for the first time in his career.
“I’m really psyched about it, 7.99 today. I’ve never broken 8 before so that got me really pumped,” said Rice. “I kind of attribute it to running against Kenzell Crawford of Brunswick.”
Rice, one of the top returning hurdlers in Class A, also rallied to finish second in the 400 in 54 seconds flat, while Ballback was timed in 53.79.
“When I got around [the corner], I was still in fifth …. [but] I gunned it for the last 200,” Rice said.
Even though his coaches were screaming for him to go, Rice was more focused on the task at hand, and still managed to come in second.
“It’s actually really funny, I don’t hear anyone when I run,” Rice admitted.
MDI’s Cummings, who had never pole vaulted indoors before this season but had cleared 12 feet, 6 inches outdoors, soared to new heights in his signature event. He cleared 13-6 a week after getting over 13-2 and narrowly missing on three attempts at 14 feet, which would have tied James Berry’s EMITL record.
Cummings was experimenting with a new, 14-foot pole, and used it to his advantage.
“This is the first meet I actually used it. I think I’m pretty comfortable with it,” said Cummings.
Cummings added that attending a pole vaulting camp at the University of Rhode Island over the summer fine-tuned his technique in a big way.
Brunswick’s Geoghegan and Hampden’s Frye had a duel in the 800, as two of the state’s best distance runners showcased their talents in a big way.
Even though Frye made a move on Geoghegan 1½ laps into the race, the Dragons’ senior overtook Frye to win in 1 minute, 59.52 seconds while Frye came in at 2:00.52.
“I was planning on going out slower than I usually do in the 800,” said Geoghegan, slated to run the 2-mile today at the Dartmouth Relays in New Hampshire.
With that being the case, Geoghegan wasn’t exactly going all out.
“I wouldn’t say it was 100 percent, definitely a really hard effort, but I’m trying to save something for [Saturday],” he said.
Teammate Liam Cassidy, also running the 2-mile at Dartmouth today, won the mile in 4:29.64 while Frye posted a 4:32.26.
Bangor’s Sinclair won the 55 dash while Hermon got a dynamite meet out of Feeney in the jumping events.
Feeney took the long jump with a mark of 20-5¼ while also winning the triple jump with a leap of 41-3¼.
In the girls’ competition, Bangor coach Jaime Cooke learned more special things about her team as the Rams compiled their third team victory in as many meets.
Chapman and Hogan were both double winners for the Rams, as Chapman won the 400 in 1:05.58 seconds and the 200 in 28.52 while Hogan cleared 5-2 to win the high jump while posting a mark of 14-3½ in the long jump.
Bangor’s other individual winner was Anna Hayden, who cleared 8 feet in the pole vault.
Ashten Hackett of Edward Little, a cousin of Bangor star Lonnie Hackett, won a pair of individual events.
She took the 55 hurdles in 9.10 seconds while winning the triple jump in 34.8½.
Brewer sophomore Chavarie won the 800 in 2:37.17 while placing second in the mile in 5:52.24, which Brunswick’s Kathleen McMahon won in 5:32.58.
McMahon also took the 2-mile in 12:01.80.
Other individual winners were Alexis Dickinson of Brunswick in the 55 dash and EL’s Katherine Harmon in the shot put.