ORONO, Maine — While one high school track and field powerhouse returned to its familiar spot at the top of the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League on Saturday, a former power reached a pinnacle it hadn’t attained in 15 years.
The Bangor girls reclaimed their EMITL title after a two-year absence, accumulating 103 points in a complete team effort — coach Jaime Cooke’s Rams only had one individual champ.
But perhaps the most heartwarming performance belonged to Orono, which placed second in the 12-school field with 67 points, the first time the Red Riots had taken home hardware from this meet since winning it in 1995.
Coach Chris Libby’s team features a roster of only 10 girls — seven of whom competed Saturday, with six figuring in the scoring. And when Libby seeded the meet during the week, a runner-up finish wasn’t out of the question.
“What I told the girls was, we were seeded maybe 15, 16 points out of second, and if we had a meet and things went our way, things fell right, that we may sniff second place,” said Libby.
Old Town finished third with 59 points, followed by two-time defending regional champion Brewer (52) and
John Bapst of Bangor (38).
Shelby Wheeler was one of the tone-setters for Orono’s afternoon, as she was the lone competitor — boys or girls — to set a league record, clearing 10 feet, 2 inches in the pole vault.
She broke former Red Riot Rachel Bergman’s 2005 standard of 10-1.
Wheeler’s first two attempts at 10-2 were admittedly shaky, but after competing in the triple jump trials and a conversation with Libby, Wheeler was able to retain her focus.
“He talked to me about technique, and it came together,” said Wheeler. “I just pulled myself together and did what I knew I could.”
Orono would score 16 points in the event — Kayla Marquis was third — while Wheeler and Holli Kenison went 2-3 in the 55 hurdles. Kenison was second in the triple jump and Wheeler took sixth.
“We did an absolutely incredible job and everybody put in their fair share of work,” said Kenison, who also won the long jump with a mark of 15-2. “We’ve been working so hard all season.”
The Riots’ other scorers were Chloe Paul, who was fourth in the 55 dash, Alex Crocker’s second-place run in the 400 and the 4×220 team of Lourine Weller, Paul, Marquis and Crocker finished third.
Bangor actually trailed Orono midway through the meet, but the Rams pulled together in the high jump and 200, scoring 13 points in the high jump and seven in the 200.
Even though Bangor had more depth, Cooke figured Orono was going to be the team best suited to challenge the Rams when she seeded the meet out.
“In my opinion, Orono was where I was looking at,” she said. “Chris Libby has an amazing team of girls, and [while] their numbers are not there their quality definitely is.”
Grace Maclean was the Rams’ lone individual winner, capturing the hurdles in 9.04 seconds while also taking second in the high jump and third in the 200, where Laken Thomas and Brittney Chapman finished 4-5.
Thomas and Chapman also teamed up with Jade Baumrind and Lexie Achorn to win the 4×220 relay in 1:52.07.
Baumrind was also fourth in the hurdles and sixth in the 400 and Chapman third in the 400.
The Top Performer award was shared by Old Town’s Katie DeShane and MDI’s Destiny Kanu, both of whom compiled 26 points.
Kanu was second in the 55 dash while winning the 400 in 1:01.22 and placing second in the 200.
DeShane went on to win that race in dramatic fashion, posting a 27.13 and edging Kanu, who ran 27.14 at the line.
“I saw her out of the corner of my eye, so I was like, I don’t think so,” said DeShane, who also cleared 5-2 to win the high jump while coming in third in the 55.
“I just booked it and then right there I pretty much leaned with everything I had.”
One of DeShane’s teammates, Kayla Brooks, returned after missing the final two regular-season meets with a bruised bone in her shin sustained while hurdling during practice. She won both individual events — winning the 55 in 7.58 and the triple jump with a mark of 35 and three-quarters.
“I had quite a bit of pain, but I just kind of toughed it out and got some wins,” said Brooks, who also anchored Old Town’s second-place 4×220 team.
The triple jump was the more difficult of the two events, since the phases and landing put more stress on Brooks’ legs.
Other champs were Hayley White, Brianne Dunn, Rosie Vachon and Darien Lewis of Ellsworth in the 4×880 relay, Alley Becker of Hampden in the 800, Michelle Haluska of Brewer in the 2-mile, Sara Chavarie of Brewer in the mile and the Witches’ Colleen Gilley in the shot put.