BUCKSPORT — When his older brother Nick was tearing up the football field and ripping up the track at Bucksport High School, Vinny Tymoczko usually watched with a trained eye.
“He’d come home from practice absolutely exhausted, he left everything on the field, he left everything on the track,” Tymoczko said. “I just try to work hard like he does and it’s paying off.”
It certainly is as the Golden Bucks’ senior owns the state’s top time in the 400 meters — regardless of class — at 50.44 seconds, and he will be the man to beat at Saturday’s Class C track and field championship meet at Oakes Field in Dover-Foxcroft.
Preliminary heats start at 10 a.m., and the same schedule is in place for the Class A meet at Cony High in Augusta and the Class B competition at Windham.
Tymoczko, also a star running back for Bucksport’s football team last fall, attributes his success on the track to his offseason work before his senior football campaign.
“I hit the weights this summer and I definitely got a little stronger in the legs and in the upper body, so I feel like that really helps me push through the last part of the 400,” said Tymoczko, who is also a contender in the 200-meter dash and will anchor the Golden Bucks’ top-seeded 1,600-meter relay team.
The 400 is arguably the toughest running event in track and field, and Tymoczko’s training was pivotal to his success in the event.
“Playing football really helps with the strength and helps with the power, and learning to accelerate quickly,” Tymoczko said. “It also helps with the toughness, too, because the 400’s a tough race, and you start to feel a lot of pain.”
Tymoczko has big visions for his 400 race on Saturday.
“I’m going to be going for a sub-50 [second] 400 and I’m going to try to break the state record, that’s my goal,” he said.
The Class C state mark in the 400 is 49.78 set by North Yarmouth Academy’s Pak Lul in 2006, while the fastest time in state history is 48.58, set by Messalonskee’s Chris Downe in 1996.
Traip Academy of Kittery’s Nigel Ayer will provide Tymoczko some competition in the 400, and Traip also is seeded right behind Bucksport in the 4×400.
“I’d love to win the 200 and we’ve got a good 4×4 team so I’d love to get a gold with those guys,” Tymoczko said.
Tymoczko plans to play football at Bowdoin College in the fall and may run track at the Brunswick school depending on how his studies go, he said.
Elsewhere in the Class C field, Schenck of East Millinocket’s Jared Waite, the PVC champ in the 100 dash, looks strong in that event and the 200, while Nick Peterson and Conor O’Donnell of Orono should fare well in the throwing events.
Nathan Wyman of Dexter and Pierre Dillon of George Stevens of Blue Hill are also seeded high in the distance events, with Wyman No. 2 in the 1,600 and Dillon second-ranked in the 800.
North Yarmouth Academy and Sacopee Valley of Hiram are the team favorites.
In Class A, Bangor senior Ben Sinclair has a chance to close out his high school career with an unblemished record in the 200.
He has never lost a race at that distance, indoors or outdoors, while in high school.
Sinclair will have to overtake four other runners ranked ahead of him in the 200, as his seasonal-best of 23.21 was good for the No. 5 rank.
He’s also a contender in the 400 and 100, and Sinclair likely will run the 400 relay as well.
Bangor coach Joe Quinn’s other hopes for points are from his son Joey in the discus, where he broke the 150-foot barrier for the first time at PVC’s last week, senior distance runner Sam Nisbett, who will anchor the 4×800 relay and aim for points in the 1,600 and 3,200.
He’ll have his work cut out for him in a field of distance runners that is as deep as ever, with three boys — Will Geoghegan of Brunswick, Mt. Blue of Farmington’s Kelton Cullenberg and Cony’s Luke Fontaine — all seeded under 4 minutes, 20 seconds in the 1,600 while nine runners have broken 10 minutes in the 3,200.
Nisbett, however, has a seasonal PR of 10:03.58 in the 3,200, so he should figure in that mix.
Josiah Hartley will look for high finishes in the hurdles, high jump and shot put for Bangor.
Brewer has a potential double-gold athlete in Steven Rice, the top seed in the 110 hurdles and a strong contender in the 300, where he’s ranked second.
Tristan Wortman also should fare well for coach Matt Collins’ Witches, as he’s one of the state’s top pole vaulters and triple jumpers. Wortman was the PVC champ in the vault.
Favorites in the team ranks are Brunswick, Scarborough and Cheverus of Portland.
In Class B, Hampden Academy’s Darik Frye will seek to cap his senior season on a winning note, as he’ll run anchor on the Broncos’ second-seeded 4×800 team, is the man to beat in the 400 and will contend in the 800.
Frye’s 400 PR for the year is 50.63 while his 800 mark is 1:56.98, three seconds behind top seed Mark McCauley of Greely of Cumberland Center. Caribou’s Christian Sleeper, who ran 2:00.05 at PVC’s last week, is another contender.
Frye also will run on coach Dave King’s 4×400 relay team, which has the quickest time in Class B.
While Western Maine teams appear to be the favorites, the East has its share of talented individuals.
They include Old Town’s Jake Leithiser in both hurdle races; Ben Chapman of Ellsworth, the PVC champion in the 1,600; Hampden’s Greg O’Donnell in the 400, Collin Downs of Camden Hills of Rockport in the 200; Ben Cummings of Mount Desert Island in the pole vault; Hermon’s Ryan Feeney in the long and triple jumps; Nat Hinckley of Mount Desert Island in the javelin and Hermon’s Justin Cullens in the 100.