It might be the most grueling double in track and field.
Running a hard 400 meters is tough enough — many track gurus consider it the toughest event in the sport — but competing in the 800 just a short time later can be mentally and physically draining.
Don’t tell that to Hampden Academy senior Darik Frye, who has made the double look easy this spring.
“Both the 400 and the 800 are nothing but guts races and, I don’t know, I guess I enjoy pain a lot,” said Frye after he won both events at Friday’s PVC track and field championships in Bar Harbor.
Frye also anchored the Broncos’ 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams, both of which he led to victories in impressive fashion.
The 4×800 win was dramatic, as Frye pounded out a 53-second first lap to run down Bangor’s Sam Nisbett and wound up clocking a split of 1:58. Frye then went on to run a 1:59.58 to win the open 800 and a 50.77 to claim the open 400 en route to winning Top Performer honors.
Frye first wanted to experiment with the double last spring, but the Broncos’ coaching staff figured it would be too demanding. After doing it a couple times during the indoor season, he realized it wasn’t so bad.
“In indoor, I just started doing it little by little, and then come outdoor I started doing it some more and realized I don’t really need a whole lot of time to recover, and it ended up working out really well for me,” Frye said.
The recovery time between races is a tad longer outdoors than indoors, with the 300 hurdles in between the 400 and 800 outdoors while the two races follow each other indoors, so Hampden coach David King isn’t really surprised at Frye’s success.
“He’s a tough kid. At first, the 400 was really good, got him warmed up for the 800. As the season’s gone on the 400’s become his best race,” said King.
Frye’s biggest advantage in the 400 Friday was having Ben Sinclair of Bangor out in front for the first half of the race.
“He’s a real fast guy and I love the way he runs, he runs just all out the first 200 meters and just keeps going,” Frye said.
King said the biggest reason for Frye’s success is his physical toughness.
“In particular, the 4×8 the other day, I think that the biggest difference in that finish was he physically is strong,” King said. “His endurance, his speed and strength is a great combination for him.”
Frye’s win in the open 800 Friday was dramatic as he nearly led from wire to wire before Caribou’s Christian Sleeper caught up on the backstretch.
But Frye responded with a move on the final turn.
“I really, really wanted it,” Frye said, “I really like coming out here and racing and giving it my all. If I didn’t at least try my hardest I wouldn’t have been happy with myself.”
Frye plans on doing both the 400 and 800 once again at Saturday’s Class B state championship meet in Windham, and while he owns Class B’s top time in the 400 at 50.63 seconds, he’ll have plenty of competition in the 800 from Greely of Cumberland Center senior Mark McCauley, who owns a seasonal-best of 1:53.40.
Frye’s 800 PR for the spring is 1:56.98, which he remarkably ran just after ripping his 400 PR in a regular-season meet at Ellsworth.
“I plan on doing it at states and, hopefully, if I can do good enough, I’ll do it at New Englands also,” Frye said. “They’re two great events and I love them both.”
Frye has big plans following high school as he plans on enlisting in the Air Force. He still plans on running competitively.
Both his father and grandfather served in the Air Force and that influenced Frye’s decision.
“I want to serve my country, I love my country and I love running,” said Frye, who will leave for basic training in Texas in September.
Key matchups in final week
There are a couple of pivotal games on the slate as the regular season comes to a close in high school softball.
Postseason play is set to begin with preliminary games in Classes B, C and D on June 8 with the quarterfinals following on June 10.
The biggest matchup lies in the Class B ranks with Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, the No. 2-ranked team in the standings, traveling to Hermon this afternoon to face the top-ranked Hawks at 4:30 p.m.
Hermon blanked the Lynx 2-0 on April 24, and coach Stephanie Biberstein’s club has been hot with the bats as of late, averaging a robust 8.3 runs per game over its six-game winning streak.
The Hawks have all but sewed up the top spot in the region but a win would go a long way in securing the No. 2 seeding for coach Dean Libbey’s Lynx.
Mattanawcook has won a lot of its games in close fashion this spring, as eight of its victories have come by two runs or less, while junior pitcher Tayla Trask owns four shutouts.
Also Tuesday, Bucksport will host Old Town in what could be a quarterfinal preview, as the Coyotes are fourth in the standings and the Golden Bucks sixth, and the winner of this contest could likely possess home-field advantage in the opening round.
Ellsworth jumped back into the playoff discussion Monday with a doubleheader sweep at fifth-place Caribou. The Eagles began the day on the outside looking in, and thanks to the two wins over the Vikings, Ellsworth is now in position to host a preliminary game.
In Class C, Calais and Woodland will renew its rivalry today, with the defending state champion Blue Devils coming in as Eastern Maine’s only undefeated team.
Woodland, last year’s Class D state champion, currently holds the 10th and final Class C postseason berth, and a victory by the Dragons could give them a home preliminary contest.
Woodland is 12-3 after winning its sixth straight game on Monday, 20-0 over Shead of Eastport.