ORONO — The first meet of the track and field season can be a tough one for coaches and athletes because it can be hard to tell gauge athletes’ conditioning after just a few short weeks of practice.
“Obviously its early and we’ve only been practicng for three and a half weeks, so they looked good,” Old Town coach Rod White said.
His Coyotes, particularly Jake Leithiser, looked strong in their Eastern Maine Indoor Track League opener Saturday night, as Leithiser won two individual events and anchored a winning relay as Old Town cruised in the “A” meet at the University of Maine field house.
Old Town finished with 176 points while Brewer had 100, followed by Central of Corinth (52), Ellsworth (31), Mount Desert Island (25), Foxcroft Academy (18) and Bucksport (5).
Hampden Academy went on to capture the “B” meet, tallying 144 points while Bangor finished second with 127.50.
Rounding out that field were Orono (40), Mattanawcook of Lincoln (38.50), Hermon (36), John Bapst (26) and Sumner of East Sullivan (21).
Leithiser easily claimed the 55 hurdles in 8.09, but he was happiest with his winning effort in the high jump, clearing an impressive 6 feet, 3 inches, which is a personal-best.
“And it’s a school record,” Leithiser said. “I got 6 feet at PVC’s, so I’m happy.”
Not bad for a guy who has only practiced that event once thus far this winter, as teams don’t generally practice in the field house until the UMaine teams depart for winter break.
“We came here once and that’s it,” Leithiser said.
Leithiser teamed up with Jacob St. Peter, Jared Winchenbach and Lee Jackson on the 4×220 relay, which was timed in 1:37.79, while St. Peter also won the 200 in 24.63, with the Coyotes’ other individual wins coming from Nathan Reeves in the 2 mile, Matt Richard in the long jump, Dan Gastia in the triple jump and Zach Labree in the pole vault.
“The way the kids ran and jumped today, if we build on that it should be a really exciting year,” said White. “Like the girls, its just a matter of pacing ourselves and not doing too much too early.
Leithiser was also impressed with his effort in the hurdles.
“I just got out of the blocks fast (and) I felt really smooth over the hurdles,” he said.
Leithiser’s growth should also pay dividends in the high jump, and his goals are state championships in both the hurdles and HJ.
“I’ve grown two or three inches this last year and I’ve gotten stronger,” he said.
For a first meet, White was happy with the results, especially with a long holiday layoff on the horizon.
“We haven’t had a month of practice so we want to see what the kids (can) do,” he said. “Now we have 11 days before our next meet.”
Ellsworth freshman Dan Curts was the “A” meet’s other double-winner, covering the mile in 4:45.52 while also winning the 400 in 56.13.
In the “B” meet, Hampden got individual victories from Roy Donnelly, Ryan Faircloth and Connor Perry in taking the team victory.
Faircloth won the 55 hurdles in 8.82 seconds, with teammate Zach Hardy finishing second, while Donnelly edged Hermon’s Nick Byers in the 55 dash.
Donnelly was timed in 6.92 seconds and Byers 6.97, while Perry cleared 5-8 to win the high jump.
Hermon’s Byers was a double-winner with victories in the 800 (2:06.19) and 200 (24.39), while Hampden’s Donnelly was second in that race.
Bangor freshman Jonathan Stanhope helped lead the Rams’ 4×880 team to a win, as he, Paul Rudnicki, Alex Shi and Juergen Pilot covered that race in 8:53.78. Stanhope also won both the mile and 2 mile, good for that meet’s only other double-win.