ORONO — Immediately after winning the two-mile to complete the grueling “distance triple,” an exhausted Michelle Haluska crumpled to the track at the University of Maine field house.
Once back on her feet, the Brewer High senior made her way to a nearby trash barrel and became sick. It was a small price to pay for the most memorable day of her career.
Haluska won the mile in five minutes, 28.56 seconds and took the 800 (2:24.81) and the two-mile (12:23.12) on her way to sharing Outstanding Performer honors during Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League championship meet.
”(It was) perfect. I wouldn’t change a single thing about today if I could go back,” Haluska said.
The Hampden Academy boys and Bangor girls utilized their talent and depth to earn team titles.
The Bronco boys posted three first-place finishes and placed 17 athletes in the scoring column to total 106 points and outlast runner-up Old Town (98). Hampden Academy helped coach Dave King celebrate his return to coaching the indoor squad with a league title.
”We’ve got good balance, a lot of depth,” said King, whose peers chose him as boys coach of the year. “I don’t have any event that I don’t have some people that can come up and win some points.”
Bangor was a distant third with 58 points.
Sophomore Grace Maclean set the tone for Bangor with three individual wins. However, 14 athletes scored to give coach Jaime Cooke’s Rams their second straight PVC-EMITL crown, edging Brewer (91 points) and Old Town (88.5).
”Really, it’s the entire depth of the girls team,” said Cook, who was chosen the girls coach of the year.
”They’ve come together, they’ve clicked as a team and I think it showed here today,” she added.
Maclean, along with Haluska and Brewer’s Teal Jackson, shared the girls Outstanding Performer honor.
Maclean won the long jump (16 feet, 4 3/4 inches), the high jump (5-2) and the 55-meter hurdles (8.81 seconds).
”I’ve been training hard all season and today everything seemed to just click,” said Maclean, who claimed the hurdles for the second straight year.
”I wanted to do it,” she said of winning three events. “I just worked hard and accomplished it.”
Jackson sprinted to victories in the 55 meters (7.40), the 400 (59.49) and the 200 (26.60), achieving personal bests in each. The speedy sophomore excelled during her first indoor season.
”I did basketball last season and then I decided to do indoor,” said Jackson, who ran outdoors last spring. “It’s fun. We have a lot of team activities and we all get along really well.”
Haluska achieved personal records by a second in the mile and 800, then pulled off a season best in defending her two-mile title.
”I knew I could run them all, it’s just winning them all was going to be the difficult thing,” she said.
Senior Jake Leithiser of Old Town was named the Outstanding Performer in the boys meet, winning three events. He opened by taking the high jump at 6-2, then cruised to victory in the 55m hurdles (7.99) capped his day with a 52.09 clocking in the 400 meters.
”I hurt my hip last week, so I just had to stop a little short,” he said of not attempting a PR in defending his high jump crown.
”I was a little iffy going into high jump, but once I won that, my confidence skyrocketed,” Leithiser said.
James Magnani of Mount Desert Island and Molly Hunt of Bucksport were given the Anne Norton Sportsmanship Award for good sportsmanship, cooperation, congeniality and helpfulness to teammates and other athletes. The honor is bestowed by EMITL officials.
In the boys meet, Hampden demonstrated its versatility and depth.
Senior Evan Piccirillo led the way for the Broncos, winning the 800 in 2:03.86 while taking second in the mile and two-mile. Senior Connor Perry was outstanding, winning the long jump (19-10) and finishing second in the high jump and fourth in the 55.
Other multiple-event scorers for Hampden were Roy Donnelly, who won the 55 (6.87), was fourth in the 200 and ran on its runner-up 4×220 relay; Thomas Hoffman (fifth in long and high jumps, sixth in pole vault); Andrew Toothaker (third hurdles, fourth 200) and Ryan Faircloth (6th hurdles, 2nd 4×220).
Andrew Closson, Simon Burditt, Zach Hardy, Neil Ashford, Dylan Porter, Nick Kopf, Alex Tardiff, Lucas Kurz and Stefano Valsecchi also scored points for HA.
Dan Curts of Ellsworth was a two-event winner in the mile (4:38.30) and two-mile (10:15.77), while other individual champs included Miguel Caballero of Orono, 200 meters (23.29); Nick Peterson, Orono, shot put (45-2 1/2); Matt Richard, Old Town, triple jump (40-10 3/4) and Tristan Wortman, Brewer, pole vault (13-1).
Bangor’s team of Jonathan Stanhope, Paul Rudnicki, Alex Shi and Juergen Pilot won the 4×880 relay in 8:46.35 and the Old Town quartet of Jacob St. Peter, Jared Winchenbach, Lee Jackson and Daniel Gastia captured the 4×220 relay in a school-record 1:35.42.
On the girls side, Maclean’s performance provided the foundation of Bangor’s win.
The Rams had eight other athletes score in more than one event, paced by Tiffany Gray (second triple jump, third 200, fourth 55), Anna Hayden (second pole vault, fifth 400 and first 4×220) and Jade Baumrind (fifth hurdles, sixth 200, first 4×220).
Courtney Lizotte (fourth pole vault, sixth hurdles), Laken Thomas (third 400, 1st 4×220), Angelyn Masters (fifth mile, third 4×220), Lexie Achorn (sixth 400, third 4×220) and Kristen Robbins (sixth two-mile, third 4×220) also were multiple-event scorers. Deanne Krapf, Leanne Violette, McKenna Unobskey, Shannon Broznya and Chevaughn Kacer also scored.
”We have been about striving for personal improvements and performance and focusing on the skills at hand that they need to continue to build,” Cooke said.
John Bapst of Bangor took the 4×880 relay in 10:31.85 behind Casey McGuire, Amanda Lalime, Laura Donovan and Maggie Bryan.