Labreck keeps improving by leaps and bounds

Posted May 05, 2010, at 10:55 p.m.

Jesse Labreck is becoming one of the best athletes ever to grace the University of Maine track and field landscape, and she’s only a sophomore.

Nearly every time she steps on the track, high jump or triple jump runways, she adds to an already impressive resume.

Labreck further etched herself into Black Bear record books last weekend at the America East championship, breaking or tying six records — three UMaine marks and three America East standards — while leading coach Mark Lech’s club to a second-place finish with 172 points, the highest in school history.

Labreck, the women’s meet MVP, set an AE record in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 8½ inches, while also winning the long jump (19-6) and the triple jump with a school-record mark of 41 feet.

“She’s definitely talented, that’s never been a question about that,” Lech said. “People know what a good athlete she is.”

Labreck also set an AE record in the 100 hurdles, running 13.78 seconds; ran the third leg of the Black Bears’ school-record 1600-meter relay team, which clocked a 3:41.22; and the third leg of Maine’s third-place 400-meter relay squad (46.65, school record).

Since Labreck jumped 5-9 in high school at Messalonskee, she figured the 5-8 high jump standard was within reach, but was still somewhat befuddled.

“You don’t always expect to [record a personal best] every time, [but] you hope to,” she said. “That’s your goal and stuff but it doesn’t usually come together like that for me.”

The UMaine women did win the New England championships back in 2003, but finishing second at the America East championships was somewhat expected.

“That was more of a surprise, because at the New England’s, who shows up and who doesn’t is a question,” Lech said. “This meet, everybody shows up and everybody was prepared for it, so at that point in time we were focused on that.”

Labreck certainly figured a team championship was within reach, and is confident it will be next season with a lot of the Black Bears’ top scorers being underclassmen.

“We didn’t talk about Albany and how many points they were getting, but I guess when the day ended we were relatively close to Albany and next year is very attainable,” Labreck said.

Vicki Tolton was another Black Bear who was prepared, as she completed a grueling double on a hot day, winning her third straight 400 meters crown in 54.39 seconds while coming back to post a school-record time of 59.55 in the 400 hurdles.

She also ran a leg on the 1600 relay team.

While Labreck, Tolton, and Corey Conner were outstanding — Conner won the 800 and was second in the 1500 — several athletes also garnered valuable points.

For example, Conner also took fourth in the 5,000 while Hilary Maxim was sixth. Corey’s sister, Allison, earned fourth in the 10,000; Vanessa Letourneau was third in the 800; Katy Grime took seventh in the discus and Jessica Bond won the javelin.

With those performances falling into place and with top-notch athletes like Labreck, Lech figured a second-place finish was attainable.

“Everything would’ve had to gone right for us lot and a lot of things would’ve had to go wrong for [Albany for us to win],” Lech said.

Riley Masters of Bangor is also doing better after being taken to the hospital after suffering heat stroke in the men’s 5,000.

“He had a cold, he took some cold medicine too which probably made it worse,” Lech said. “When he was able to come and meet us on the bus to come home with us that obviously meant that they let him out of the hospital so he was OK.”

The New England championships are set for this weekend at Northeastern University, but athletes who have qualified for bigger meets, such as the ECAC, IC4A and NCAA Regional championships, will get this weekend off from competing.

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