The high school indoor track and field regular season has reached the halfway point with the Black Bear Relays being held over the weekend, and the teams to beat in the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League are beginning to look clearer.
While the Bangor girls showed they are still the favorites by running away with Saturday’s relays at the University of Maine, Hampden Academy and Old Town are shaping up as Eastern Maine’s top boys squads.
The two teams have faced each other once, with Old Town winning Jan. 7 while Hampden Academy claimed the Black Bear Relays a week later.
“The kids are showing improvement every meet and things are coming together quite well,” said HA coach Dave King, whose team piled up six wins — relay and individual — in the relays. “We’ve got a lot of decent athletes that work hard and I’m very happy with them.”
Hampden’s 4×220 shot put relay squad of Simon Burdett, Nick Stevens, Nick Jesiolosky and Richard Hoch set a record time of 1:53.02, while the Broncos’ individual champ was Stevens, who won the 55 meters in 7.12 seconds.
Even though statistics show that the Broncos and Coyotes are the teams to beat, King knows anything can happen.
“You always have to wonder about Bangor, (they have) a lot of good athletes,” he said.
The Broncos are blessed with with depth, something that was a pivotal factor in their EMITL championship season in 2008-09.
That is a quality Hampden hasn’t had in the past, with his 2003 EMITL championship squad featuring top athletes such as Brad Simms and Brian Herasymchuck.
“My goal in Easterns is to score in every event,” King said.
The Broncos feel they still have a lot of work to do.
“We’re working hard in having our kids improve through speed work (and) lifting so we can get faster and better,” King said.
Hampden’s top performers this winter include Roy Donnelly, who sits at the top of the EMITL in the 55 dash and has the fourth-best time in the 200. He could also run on the Broncos’ 4×220 relay.
The Broncos also have senior distance runner Evan Piccirillo, who is a 30-point threat in Easterns, while Connor Perry cleared 6 feet in the high jump for the first time this winter last weekend.
King has been impressed with the improvement of some of his field-event personnel, such as Willie Patterson and Stevens in the long jump.
“They’ve all been PR’ing (personal record) the last couple of weeks,” King said. “So that’s been a tremendous improvement.”
Old Town also had some strong individual performances over the weekend, including Jake Leithiser posting a seasonal best of 20 feet, 4 inches in the long jump for coach Rod White.
“We go against Old Town every meet the rest of the season, it’ll give Rod and I a chance to play around a little bit,” King said.
For now, King is focused on keeping his team conditioned and healthy.
“We want to do that, (keep) working on the skill events, working on a lot of technique, doing as much speedwork as we can without injuring kids on the snow and ice,” he said.
In other action on the boys side at the relays, Tristan Wortman of Brewer won the triple jump and pole vault, clearing 12-6 in the vault and jumping 38-7 in the triple jump.
Nick Peterson of Orono won the shot put with a throw of 43-6.50.
Highlighting the girls performances at the Black Bear Relays was Bangor sophomore Grace Maclean, who was part of two winning relays for the Rams. That included the 4×220 in which Maclean, Jade Baumrind, Tiffany Gray and Laken Thomas collaborated to set a meet record of 1 minute, 51.89 seconds, also the top time in the league this season.
Elsewhere, Brewer’s Teal Jackson posted a record time of 7.67 seconds in the 55-meter dash, while the another record time came from Old Town’s throwers, with Annie Cashon, Kristyn Bell, Laura Martin and Hayley Prygrocki running 2:23.85 in the 4×220 relay for shot putters.