LEWISTON — A year ago, the Waterville High School girls indoor track and field team finished second by 0.03 seconds on the final relay. On Monday, the Purple Panthers made sure not to let the opportunity slip away.
The 4×200-meter relay squad of Georgia Bolduc, Sarah Fleming, Alexa Frame and Anna LeClair sped to a first-place finish in 1 minute, 51.82 seconds, lifting Waterville to a narrow 80-73.5 victory over runner-up Greely of Cumberland Center at the Bates College fieldhouse.
The team was well aware the meet was again riding on the outcome of the final race.
“It gave us more focus,” said LeClair, a junior who ran the anchor leg. “It was a test of our skill and it was nice to have that challenge for us.”
Coach Ian Wilson’s Panthers won their second indoor title in three years.
Old Town finished third with 45.5 points, followed by York (28), Gray-New Gloucester (27.5), and Falmouth (23).
In the boys meet, sprinter Will Wegener defended his 400 title (51.38), won the 200 (22.84) and finished second in the 55, while junior Reid Pryzant took first in the long jump (20 feet, 9 inches) and 55 hurdles (7.96) and was third in the triple jump to propel Falmouth to its second straight championship.
“It was pretty ridiculous,” Pryzant said of his day. “A lot of what I haven’t had the whole season is confidence, because I’m just a nervous guy. “Everyone basically said you’re going to do great and I did do great.”
The Yachtsmen scored 91 points to outdistance runner-up Waterville (68), while Old Town (55), York (54), Greely (51) and Hampden Academy (43) claimed the Nos. 3-6 positions.
In the girls meet, sophomore Bethanie Brown led the way with wins in the mile (5:26.21) and two-mile (11:46.92) and was part of Waterville’s third-place 4×800 unit that included Sarah Walker, Tiana Thomas and Lara Bluhm.
Junior Olivia Thurston won the 400 with a state-record time of 59.51 seconds and placed second in the 55 hurdles and the 200. Sophomore Bolduc was second in the 55 and third in the 200, while Frame took fourth in the hurdles.
“A lot of kids that really weren’t seeded that well had phenomenal days today,” Wilson said.
“I don’t think we could have squeezed too many more points out of this group of kids,” he added.
Amanda Peterson of Gray-New Gloucester was a double winner in the 55 (7.49) and the 200 (27.01). Emily Mitchell of York set a state long jump record at 17-6 1/2, erasing a short-lived record of 17-6 turned in one jump earlier by runner-up Carley O’Brien of Traip Academy in Kittery, who won the hurdles (8.84) and was third in the triple jump.
Several individual champions represented Eastern Maine schools. Orono senior Shelby Wheeler defended her pole vault crown at 9 feet, 6 inches, freshman Aleta Looker of Ellsworth claimed the 800 in 2:24.03, Belfast senior Hannah Hill took the triple jump (35 feet, 8 3/4 inches) and senior Jen Daley of John Bapst High in Bangor won the high jump (5-2).
“I was a little nervous, but I tried to stay calm and relax and do my best,” Daley said of her first state title.
In the boys meet, seven athletes scored to complement Wegener and Pryzant as Falmouth won handily.
Sophomore Jacob Buhelt had two individual fifths and ran on the winning 4×200 relay along with Azad Jalali, who scored in three events, Brian Prescott and Jimmy Polewaczyk. Henry Briggs and Thomas Edmonds scored in two events each.
“Falmouth had a couple kids you didn’t really expect who ran out of their tree today,” Wilson said.
The catalyst for runner-up Waterville was senior sprinter Isiah Spofford. He sped to victory in the 55 (6.62), captured the triple jump (42-10 1/2) and was second in the 200. Jeff Hale won the mile (4:43.73) and Devin Burgess went 12-6 to take the pole vault.
Senior Jake Leithiser of Old Town shook off a nagging hip injury to earn a trio of top-three finishes. He won the high jump at 6-2, was second in the hurdles and placed third in what he called a grueling 400.
“I was pleased about the high jump, but a little disappointed in my hurdles and the 400,” he said. “I did the best I could.”
Leithiser said the Coyotes performed thinking about senior teammate Matt Richards, who was out with an injury. Without knowing it, Richards suffered a collapsed lung during the long jump at the EMITL-PVC meet and went on to win the triple jump.
“I know he’d do anything to be here right now, so we’re trying to do the best we can for him,” Leithiser said.
Dan Curts of Ellsworth capped his freshman indoor season by easily outpacing the field to win the two-mile in 10:25.80. His task was affected because top seed Eben Hodgkins of Erskine Academy in South China was unable to run because of an injury.
“That completely changed the race,” Curts said. “I was really focused on running with him today, I was really going to be happy with that.”
Instead, he had to set his own pace. Once Curts made his move after 800 meters, he ran away with it.
Senior Nick Byers of Hermon took the 800 (2:01.95) and Hampden Academy won the 4×800 in 8:38.97. That squad included Andrew Closson, Stefano Valsecchi, Lucas Kurz and Evan Piccirillo, who was second in the 800 and fourth in the two-mile.
Old Town coach Rod White was pleased with his teams’ third-place efforts on both sides while carrying the banner for the EMITL teams.
“The pole vaulters went 3, 4, 7 and they were seeded 5, 6, 7. Zach LaBree and Mackenzie Bowen each had personal bests,” he said. “My shot putter girl (Haley Prygrocki) was seeded fifth. She got third and threw a PR (personal record) by two feet.