BANGOR — The Bangor girls have produced quite the dynasty among the local track and field circles over the last decade, having won the last seven Penobscot Valley Conference championships.
All the tools appear to be in place for coach Joe Quinn’s team to contend for No. 8 as the Rams feature plenty of young talent to go with some veteran leadership.
Bangor has won both meets it has competed in so far this spring, while another at Brunswick was postponed halfway through due to lightning.
“The sophomore (and) freshman class is still really, really strong, and we’ve got a couple of juniors and seniors that have good leadership,” Quinn said Monday afternoon.
While the Rams are relatively young, they aren’t young on experience. Their returning cast includes sophomores Ally Vanidestine, Grace Maclean and Denae Johnson, with Johnson winning an individual state championship in the 100 hurdles last year.
Maclean specializes in the long and high jumps and the hurdles and can also run the 4×100 relay, while Vanidestine swept the sprinting events (100, 200, 400 dashes) at the PVC Championships last season.
Tiffany Gray, a freshman, has had a dynamite start to her rookie campaign, with one of the highlights a 35-foot, 1-inch burst in the triple jump in a PVC meet last weekend, while classmate Morgan Johnson has also started strong.
Bangor’s sprinters were able to post some solid times in that meet despite adverse conditions.
“Some of the times in the sprints were a little slow. We had a really big headwind,” Quinn said. “That really affected some of the times, but they still did very well.”
Lexie Achorn and Laken Thomas give the Rams both depth and leadership in the sprinting events, along with Anna Hayden, also one of Eastern Maine’s top pole vaulters.
The Rams’ road to an eighth consecutive conference title will no doubt be a tough one, with Old Town, Brewer, Caribou and Hampden Academy all fielding competitive squads.
The Coyotes feature Dacie Manion, the Class B state cross country champion, who is making her track and field debut this spring and gives Old Town a potential 30-point threat in a championship meet.
Bangor will face Caribou in a meet in Aroostook County this weekend, but the Rams will finally get a chance to run against some big schools on May 21 when they host the second annual “River City Rivals” meet, which features Bangor, Brewer, Edward Little of Auburn and Lewiston.
“That’s a great meet,” Quinn said. “The Edward Little girls are very strong.”
It’ll also give Bangor’s top runners a chance to lower some of their seed times for the PVC championship meet on May 28.
“We want to make sure we get the kids in certain events,” Quinn said.
Key games on tap this week
The high school softball season is nearing its halfway point, and there are plenty of key games on the slate in all four classes throughout Eastern Maine.
Following its Monday Class A showdown with Cony of Augusta, first-place Brewer is home twice more this week, starting with another crossover battle with Edward Little of Auburn on Wednesday while wrapping up the week against rival Hampden Academy on Friday.
A potential battle for first place in Class B is looming later on in the week, as defending state champion Hermon will take on Bucksport on Thursday.
The Hawks and Golden Bucks began Monday’s play ranked 1-2 in the Class B Heal points, and Hermon won the first confrontation 8-3 on April 30.
Thursday’s contest is one of three pivotal games for Bucksport this week, as coach Mike Carrier’s club will host Old Town on Tuesday and take on Mattanawcook Academy on Friday.
The Coyotes recently snapped a three-game losing skid with a 6-5 win over John Bapst on Saturday, while Mattanawcook has won three straight, with senior righthander Tayla Trask posting two shutouts in the process.
Elsewhere in Eastern Maine, two of Class C’s more surprising early-season stories will meet in a possible duel for the top spot when Dexter travels to Lee Academy.
The Pandas are currently Class C’s top team, sporting a 5-1 record, with that lone loss coming to the 4-0 Tigers on April 27.