John Bapst girls track and field coach Bruce Pratt is a bit pessimistic and optimistic as his Crusaders seek their eighth Class C state title in nine years Saturday at Oakes Field in Do-ver-Foxcroft.
Action in all three state meets — the Class A competi-tion is at Augusta and Class B at Windham — starts at 10 a.m.
Pratt has plenty of reasons to like his team’s chances, as the two-time defending cham-pion Crusaders have depth and talent, but the veteran coach knows in a meet like this, one disqualification, false start or subpar day could lead to disas-ter.
“That’s going to be a real dogfight this year, I think,” Pratt said. “I think that Traip and Orono and Winthrop and Lisbon and Bapst are all in a pretty interesting mix.”
In an unofficial “virtual meet” on running website Milesplit, those five teams are separated by only 23 points, a slim number in a state champi-onship, and the addition of some top individuals, such as Maranacook of Readfield’s Abby Mace, will make first-place finishes hard to come by for top-contending teams in certain events.
“Maranacook and MCI coming into Class C make a big difference. It’s a much more difficult meet to handicap, I think,” Pratt said.
Most of Bapst’s points this spring have come via the dis-tance races, with that crew led by the Carmack sisters, sopho-more Mary and freshman Adri-enne, along with junior Maggie Bryan and senior Kim Spencer.
Spencer is Bapst’s lone senior distance runner.
Bryan is the reigning state champion in the 800, and Pratt will need more dynamite per-formances from his distance girls, particularly in the 4×800, where the Crusaders are un-beaten this spring.
“I think we’re going to be OK, but I plan to have a few Pepto-Bismol tablets with me, too,” Pratt said. “It’s really hard to know what will happen. What we’re hoping is we’re sending out enough troops to get the job done.”
Other key athletes for Bapst include Sarah Wardell in the jumps and hurdles, Jen Daley and Stesha Rudnicki in the high jump and Carolyn Benner in the triple jump.
Orono has the talent to contend for a state champion-ship, and the Red Riots are al-ways strong in the pole vault.
Coach Chris Libby has three girls among the state’s top seven vaulters, including jun-ior Shelby Wheeler, who cleared 10 feet, 3 inches a cou-ple of weeks ago.
Senior Holli Kennison is a 30-point individual threat for Orono, as she’ll be right there in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, along with the triple jump, and will likely run on the Riots’ 1600 relay team.
Alex Crocker is strong in the sprints and hurdles as well, while Kayla Marquis and Julianne Labrecque give the Red Riots depth in the pole vault.
Other top athletes from the PVC include Gabby Naranja of Fort Kent and Faith Mackey of Searsport in the distance events, Analies Dyjak of Orono in the race walk, Emily Pan-ciera of Foxcroft Academy and Central of Corinth’s Kimber Thomas in the sprints, and Central’s Bekah Campbell, who has the state’s top mark in the discus.
Class A: The Bangor girls have the horses up front and depth to contend for their first state championship since 1986, the last time a Class A team north of Waterville waltzed home with a state title.
Coach Joe Quinn’s club recorded a third-place finish last spring, but the Rams are optimistic they can claim hardware this time around.
Freshman Ally Vanides-tine owns Class A’s best time in the 100 dash at 12.72 seconds while her season bests of 26.71 in the 200 and 59.50 in the 400 have her in contention for gold in both events. She’ll also likely run either the 400 or 1600 relay.
Classmates Denae John-son and Grace Maclean have been dynamite in the hurdles and high jump, with Johnson and Maclean ranked 1-2 in the 100 hurdles and Johnson fourth in the 300 hurdles.
Maclean is also among three girls who have high jumped 5-2, but she’s capable of going higher, with a personal best of 5-6.25.
Junior Anna Hayden is a contender in the pole vault, having cleared 9-6 thus far, while Bangor’s 400 and 1600 relays should be in the mix for gold as well.
Brittney Chapman and Laken Thomas supply depth for the Rams in the sprinting events, and Chapman broke a minute in the 400 in the state meet last year.
Sprinters Rachel Craig and Teal Jackson, both fresh-men, lead Brewer, while Jack-son ripped a PR of 1:00.34 in the 400 last weekend.
Edward Little of Auburn is the defending state cham-pion, and this meet will also feature the state’s best distance runner in Kennebunk sopho-more Abbey Leonardi.
She has a chance for two state records, having run 4:52.78 in the 1600 and 10:36.30 in the 3200 this season.
Both those marks are al-ready under the top marks in state history, 4:57.27 in the 1600 (Mount Ararat’s Jen Moreau) and 10:39.43 in the 3200 (Old Town’s Cassie Hintz), but Leo-nardi must beat those times Saturday for the Maine Princi-pals’ Association to recognize them as state records.
Class B: This is Water-ville’s meet to lose, as coach Ian Wilson’s Purple Panthers are heavily favored to come home with a fourth straight state ti-tle.
The PVC will have its fair share of competitive individu-als, including Kayla Brooks, Katie DeShane, Heather Soule and Haley Prygrocki of Old Town, Destiny Kanu of Mount Desert Island and Olivia Sleeper of Caribou.
The Vikings also feature talent in the race walk, with three Caribou walkers — Paige Small, Emily Soderberg and Nicole Cyr among the state’s top seven.