Hershey winners seek national berths

Posted July 06, 2010, at 8:18 p.m.
Paul Lussier, 10, of South Portland (left) and Jake Stevens, 9, of Preque Isle cross the finish line during the 9-10 year-old boys 50 meter runing competition during the Hershey State track meet at Cameron Stadium in Bangor Tuesday.  Stevens won the event with the time of 8.55 seconds and Lussier finished third. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
Paul Lussier, 10, of South Portland (left) and Jake Stevens, 9, of Preque Isle cross the finish line during the 9-10 year-old boys 50 meter runing competition during the Hershey State track meet at Cameron Stadium in Bangor Tuesday. Stevens won the event with the time of 8.55 seconds and Lussier finished third. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
Hannah Ferris competes in the 13-14 year-old girls standing long jump competition during the Hershey State track meet at Cameron Stadium in Bangor Tuesday.   (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
Hannah Ferris competes in the 13-14 year-old girls standing long jump competition during the Hershey State track meet at Cameron Stadium in Bangor Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)

Old Town’s Jackson wins 3 events; Aroostook County contingent successful
BANGOR — Tia Jackson may be only 14 years old, but her track and field resume is already quite full of accomplishments.
Jackson, who will be a freshman at Old Town High School in September, was a triple winner Tuesday at the Hershey State track and field meet at Cameron Stadium.
She won the 100-meter dash in 13.35 seconds, edging out runner-up Marissa Anthony of Mars Hill in the final 50 yards, while also claiming the standing long jump with a leap of 7 feet, 4 inches while running to a lifetime best of 27.37 in the 200.
The jumping events are Jackson’s specialty, but just standing on the board and leaping into the pit is something different.
“You don’t have any momentum or anything,” Jackson said. “In regular long jump, you have to have good form to land or else you get hurt when you land, but this, you don’t really have any power to hurt yourself.”
All winners from Tuesday’s meet will be included in a pool with other Region 6 champs for selection to the North American Final in Pennsylvania later this summer.
Region 6 consists of all the New England states and Canadian maritime provinces.
Athletes who win their races and then also have the top time or distance in the region automatically qualify for the North American final.
The meet featured a healthy contingent of 9-to-14-year-olds from throughout the state and, as usual, Aroostook County was well represented.
Twenty-two of the individual event winners hailed from the County, evidence the Hershey program is growing by leaps and bounds in the northern reaches of the state.
“It has been big, it’s a big event. This is our third year in Fort Kent. It continues to grow, which is great to see,” said Fort Kent Parks and Recreation director Dale Bailey, who brought 19 competitors to the Queen City from the St. John Valley.
Two of them were brothers Brandon Theriault and Bennett Theriault, both of whom enjoyed successful days.
Brandon swept all three of his events in the 11-12 age group, claiming the 100 meters in 13.99 seconds, the standing long jump (7-3½) and softball throw (162-4).
Younger brother Bennett, competing in the same age group, was second in his favorite race, the 200, running 30.96.
Bennett said he likes the 200 because he has good finishing speed for it.
“I’m a slow runner, so whenever I pick up my speed I can get in the front,” he said.
Fort Kent’s Hershey program has more than doubled in size since the first time its contingent competed in 2008, when the town sent eight runners.
“We don’t have an actual track facility in Fort Kent, so for them to come out for the team is a leap of faith on their part,” Bailey said. “For us up in Aroostook County to be able to come down to an event like this is exciting.”
John Stanhope of Bangor was another multiple-event winner on the boys side, claiming both distance events in the 13-14 age class.
He took the 1,600 run in 5:13.97 and the 800 in 2:16.82.
Jackson, who said she’s excited for her freshman season at Old Town, has a busy summer of track ahead of her. She’s competing in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in the long and triple jumps in Sacramento, Calif., later this summer.
This wasn’t her first time competing in the Hershey games. She took part in the North American Final two summers ago, and said there are plenty of differences between Hershey and USATF.
“In Hershey, they want you to interact with other people, meet other people, but USATF you’re kind of by yourself,” said Jackson.
Like a lot of Maine’s top track athletes before her, Jackson will be entering high school with a lengthy list of youth track accomplishments.
“I’m really excited [for high school] because I would’ve placed in the states in the triple jump,” she said.
Jackson jumped 34-5½ at the USATF Region I meet in the triple jump earlier this summer, which would’ve placed her fifth in the Class B state meet this spring.

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