The spring of 2009 marked the first time since 2004 that Bangor did not sweep the Penobscot Valley Conference track and field championship meet, as the Hampden Academy boys ended the Rams’ five-year reign.
But it appears this year that the road to the top of the PVC will go through Bangor on both the girls’ and boys’ sides, and with good reason.
Coach Joe Quinn’s teams feature a formidable mix of talent in all events, and his girls have owned the PVC over the last decade, winning the last six league championships.
The Bangor girls went on to record a third-place finish in the Class A state championships last spring, and with many of those key points back along with some talented new faces, the Rams could be primed for another run this season.
Among the returning key points is senior Brittney Chapman, one of the state’s top sprinters, while one of the new faces, freshman Grace Maclean, has already carved a niche as one of Maine’s best athletes.
Maclean was the Class A state runner-up in the 55 hurdles this winter and set a state record in the high jump at 5 feet, 6.25 inches.
“We’re anxious to see what she’ll do in the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles,” said Quinn.
Maclean could also run the 4×100 relay.
Other freshmen that could make an impact include Ali Vanidestine and Genae Johnson, while sophomores Deidre Johnson, Genae’s sister, and Laken Thomas are two of the team’s other top sprinters.
“It’s a good group from last year [and there’s] actually some upperclassmen coming out too in some field events that’ll do very well,” Quinn said.
Chapman had a breakout junior season, breaking the 60-second barrier in the 400 for the first time while placing third in Class A and fifth in the 200.
The Bangor boys are blessed with two 30-point threats in sprinter Ben Sinclair and distance man Sam Nisbett, both seniors who are coming off excellent indoor campaigns.
Josiah Hartley, who was solid for the Rams in the high jump and hurdles over the winter, will also be counted upon for key points, along with Joey Quinn, the coach’s son, and Anthony Sullivan in the throwing events.
Nisbett is the reigning PVC champ in the 1600 and 3200 meters while Quinn is one of the state’s best in the discus.
“Sam’s good from the 400 to the two-mile, so that’s pretty flexible,” coach Quinn said.
Bangor will open its season at home at 1 p.m. Friday, competing against Brewer, Ellsworth, Fort Kent, Bangor Christian, Central of Corinth, Hermon, Washington Academy of East Machias, Narraguagus of Harrington and Penquis of Milo, and Quinn will be looking for some solid times and distances.
“It’s going to be hard this meet to judge overall strengths because we’re missing a lot of kids,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids in D.C. for the band, school recruiting trips, all kinds of other things. It’s going to be hard to judge our overall strength this week.”
Brewer is the lone PVC team to have competed thus far, having run in a seven-team meet in Belfast last Friday.
The Witches pieced together some fine efforts, with the girls winning their meet going away and the boys prevailing in a squeaker with Erskine Academy of South China.
Those who will be counted upon for coach Matt Collins’ girls team include freshman Rachel Craig, who had an outstanding freshman campaign in the sprints indoors, and got her rookie outdoor season off to a strong start by winning the 100-meter dash.
Rylee Hutchins will also key Brewer’s sprinting depth, along with Teal Jackson and Chelsea Gillies.
The Witches also feature talent in the mid-distance and distance events with Rebecca Clark, Sara Chavarie and Lily Sund.
The Brewer boys feature one of the state’s best hurdlers in Steven Rice, the Class A state indoor champion in the 55 hurdles.
The senior opened his season by winning both the 110 and the 300 hurdles going away Friday, and he also ran on a winning relay team.
Jamie Williamson, Nick Risser and Anthony Jackson will be among the Witches’ top sprinters, while Brewer also has two top pole vaulters in Tristan Wortman and James D’Amico.
Wortman is also strong in the triple jump while he and Josh Stone provide depth in the hurdles and long jump.