GORHAM, Maine — It would’ve been easy for the Bangor girls track and field team to lose its focus after teammates Kate Rouleau and Nikita Kacer were injured while running on Broadway during a practice last week.
But that was not the case.
“It kind of just made us want to try even harder and run for Kate and Nikita, and we all just wanted to do our best,” said senior sprinter Brittney Chapman.
Chapman anchored a second-place Bangor 4×200 team which cemented the Rams’ fourth-place finish at Monday’s Class A state championships at the University of Southern Maine.
Scarborough once again ruled the team competition, nipping Bonny Eagle of Buxton 63-62 while Thornton Academy of Saco was third with 48 points with Bangor notching 43.
Mount Ararat of Topsham had 40 to round out the top five while Brewer finished in a three-way tie for 14th place with 10 points.
Heavily favored Brunswick flexed its muscles in a big way in the boys’ competition, overwhelming the rest of the field with 106 points behind Will Geoghegan’s three wins in the distance events. Cheverus of Portland finished nearly 50 points back in second, tallying 57 points.
Scarborough took third with 45.5 while Bangor was fourth with 36 points behind two first-place finishes by Ben Sinclair, Portland fifth (30) and Brewer (24).
In the girls meet, Bangor freshman Grace Maclean, who ran second on Bangor’s 4×2, turned in a strong meet with a second-place finish in the 55 hurdles and a record-breaking performance in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 6.25 inches to break Jesse Labreck’s standard of 5-6, set in 2008.
Maclean surprised fans, coaches, competitors and even herself in the high jump.
After a couple of near-misses at 5-6.25, she soared over that height on her final attempt.
“I was very surprised,” said Maclean, who was also timed in 8.76 seconds in finishing second in the hurdles to Thornton’s Hannah Wiley.
“It was beautiful, her jumping today, and her hurdles were excellent,” said Bangor coach Jaime Cooke.
The high jump helped vault the Rams into the top five, as senior Megan Hogan cleared five feet to finish third while Anna Hayden earned a personal-best in the pole vault, vaulting nine feet to finish second.
Bangor’s EMITL-record setting relay team, which included Jade Baumrind, Maclean, Laken Thomas and Chapman, blistered around the track in 1 minute, 50.71 seconds to break their school record again.
“It was a really good feeling, and we broke our PR again, and that was my mom’s school record,” said Thomas, whose mother, Michelle, a 1984 graduate of Bangor, was on the Rams’ previous school record-holding team.
Chapman was also sixth in the 400 in 1:02.50 for Bangor’s other points while Brewer’s 4×800 relay squad of Bekah Clark, Michelle Haluska, Lily Sund and Sara Chavarie posted an impressive 10:13.20 to finish third.
Haluska was also seventh in the mile for coach Matt Collins’ Witches while Elizabeth Burnham was fifth in the pole vault.
The team competition came down to the wire, with Thornton holding a 55-52 lead over Bonny Eagle while Scarborough had 51 with two events remaining.
But the Red Storm’s Emilia Scheemaker finished second in the triple jump to put Scarborough into first, and its 4×200 team finished fourth, with just enough points to hold off Bonny Eagle, which won the event.
In the boys meet, the day didn’t start off well for Bangor senior Ben Sinclair, as he false- started in the 55-meter dash trials and was disqualified.
But Sinclair responded, winning the 400 in 52.40 seconds and the 200 in 23.19.
“You can only respond by going out and getting two firsts after a false start,” said Sinclair. “It was unfortunate, I feel like I would’ve had that , but it’s good to come away with two.”
Sinclair had to push down the homestretch in the 200 to outlean Portland’s Imahdi Zagon, who started his lean a bit too quickly, allowing Sinclair to blow by him.
“I felt like I had him the whole time,” said the confident Rams’ senior.
Sinclair won his first 400 championship after finishing second in Class A last winter.
Brewer senior Steven Rice, who like many other Maine hurdlers was trapped in the shadow of Jamie Ruginski of Bonny Eagle the last couple of seasons, put down a 7.83 after tweaking an ankle during warmups.
“I was doing warmup drills and my toe got caught and it pulled my ankle back,” said Rice, who was also second in the 400 in 53.42.
But Rice persevered.
“I think I was too focused for it to really rattle me,” said Rice, who ran 7.77 in the EMITL championships to break Brewer’s school record.
“Personally I’m really proud of the school record I set last week,” he said. “You’re a state champion for one year, but that school record will last a while.”
The Witches’ other point-scorer was James D’Amico’s third-place finish (11-6) in the pole vault.
Bangor’s 4×800 relay team of Alex Shi, Juergen Pilot, Jonathan Belanger and Sam Nisbett ran 8:24.22 to finish third while the Rams’ other scorers were Josiah Hartley, who finished in a tie for third with Patrick Fagan of Westbrook in the high jump (5-10), Lonnie Hackett, who was sixth in the 200, and Bangor’s 4×2 foursome of Hackett, Hartley, Josh Dyer and Jack Stacey was fifth.
Brunswick’s Geoghegan earned meet bragging rights, blistering to a win in the mile in 4:19.94, the 800 in 1:57.94 and the 2-mile in 9:36.50.
Brunswick, coached by Millinocket native and former University of Maine runner Danny Dearing, had only one other individual winner in Mike Slovenski in the pole vault, and the junior, the latest in a long line of standout vaulters, wowed the crowd by clearing 15-2.
His brother, David, holds the state record (16-2.50).