DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The final lap of Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference small-school track and field championships proved to be a memorable one for the Orono high school track and field team.
That lap was a victory lap as both squads took home the titles in their respective divisions.
The Red Riot girls took first place in 12 of 19 events, earning points in all but two, en route to 208.5 points. The girls had the lead from start to finish.
Runner-up John Bapst of Bangor (142.5) was the only team that came in striking distance, as Orono pulled away from the rest of the field. Central of Corinth (40), Foxcroft Academy (36), and Fort Kent (24) rounded out the top five.
Orono’s victory ended an impressive streak of 10 straight titles by John Bapst. After the PVC split into big and small school championships in 2000, Stearns of Millinocket won the first title, followed by Narraguagus of Harrington in 2001 and then 10 straight by the Crusaders.
Orono’s title in girls outdoor track on Saturday is its first title in that sport since winning the Eastern Maine Class C crown in 1995.
The Orono boys continued their tradition as a top program with their third straight PVC small school title and fifth in the last eight seasons.
The Red Riots rolled up 134 points, outdistancing second-place Foxcroft (93) for the victory. It was a two-team race as Central (56), George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (52), and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (47) could not keep pace.
Orono senior Miguel Caballero and freshman Dianna Tyutyunnyk stole the spotlight in their respective groups, as each swept all four of the events they participated in.
Caballero was tops in the 100 (11.65 seconds), 200 (23.83), and 400 (51.88) dashes, and the long jump (21 feet, 5 3/4 inches).
Caballero won each of the dashes in last year’s meet and was able to top the mark he had in the 200. His wins this year came with extra effort, as he was forced to battle through ferocious winds to earn his victories, but found no trouble in combating the elements.
“The wind was definitely a factor, but you just have to overcome it,” said Caballero.
Tyutyunnyk also took the 100 (13.52), 200 (28.65), and 400 (1:03.21) dashes, as well as the long jump (16-10).
Coming into her first PVC Championship meet, the freshman was just hoping to help her team in any way she could.
“I didn’t expect too much, but I’m thankful for what I achieved,” said Tyutyunnyk. “I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful coaches, awesome teammates, and the amazing athletes I competed against.”
The biggest challenge for Tyutyunnyk came in the 400, as she narrowly won by .08 seconds, over another freshman, Foxcroft Academy’s Fern Morrison.
“It was pretty difficult, but I just kept driving through and finished pretty good,” Tyutyunnyk said.
Both Caballero and Tyutyunnyk earned awards as the meet’s Most Outstanding Performers to go along with their team victories.
The Orono girls were also aided by a double-wins from Kayla Marquis in the high jump (4-10) and pole vault (9.06), Lily Koffman in the 1600 (5:33.30) and 3200 (12:51.39). To go with Marquis’ win, the Red Riots also took 30.5 of 31 points in the pole vault.
The boys also dominated the pole vault by taking five of six places, including David Frederick’s 12-6 mark for the victory. Other wins for the boys came from Tyler White’s 10:41.89 3200 run and Zack Landean’s 114-8 discus throw.
The versatility of participants for both the boys and girls was key as the teams were able to gain more points by stacking kids in events.
“We have very talented girls and boys,” Orono coach Chris Libby said, explaining the participants willingness and ability is pivotal. “Sometimes they have a natural affinity for an event, but we ask them to try a new event because of a weakness in the league or they have the talents to be good at something else.”
In other individual boys performances, Foxcroft’s Donnie Boyer took the 110 hurdles (16.10), high jump (6-0), and triple jump (41-7 1/4). George Stevens’ River Plouffe Vogel collected a double win in the 800 (2:05.86) and 1600 (4:39.24). Fort Kent’s Robbie Hebert clocked a 37.79 to win the wheelchair 100.
For the girls, Foxcroft’s Morrison ran a 2:34.02 to win the 800, while John Bapst’s Carolyn Benner won the triple jump (35-5 1/4) and Katie Cotton captured the 100 hurdles (17.07).
Libby recalled his favorite moment of the day coming not during the events, but after the results came in.
“Despite the win and the heat, everybody still staying up and the smiles after each event,” said Libby. “I love how these kids appreciated their own performances and those of their teammates.”
Libby, who was awarded coach of the year for boys and girls, credited his success to his group of athletes being so coachable and also stressed the importance of his coaching staff.
“Lin White, Steve Dexter, Jeff Normand, Dee Wilbur, and Brian Herasymchuck were a big reason why these kids had success,” said Libby. “We never make decisions on our own and always work as a group.”
With the state tournament only a week away, Libby expects a great deal of competition ahead.
“The Lisbon girls are gonna be tough and the Bapst girls are going to be tough,” he said, also noting stiff competition from Lisbon, North Yarmouth, and Sacopee Valley on the boys side.
Caballero was not worried as his preparation will not change.
“You can always work on everything and I will work on everything,” he said.