BREWER, Maine — Kes Lavoie has always been a baseball player. The 13-year-old from Bangor played this spring on the Cohen Middle School “A” team and also competes on a Junior League squad.
On a damp, gray Tuesday, she demonstrated her strong throwing arm — this time, with a softball in her hand.
Lavoie uncorked a throw of 145 feet, 6 inches to win the ages 13-14 softball throw during the 35th Maine Hershey Track and Field State Championship meet at Pendleton Street Field in Brewer.
“I’ve been playing baseball and I realized that I was able to throw a lot farther than most of the girls my age,” Lavoie said.
“My farthest throw I’ve done is 157, so I was trying to get 160 today, but I don’t know what happened,” she said. “The ball was kind of wet and it was harder to throw.”
More than 200 youngsters ages 9 to 14 earned the right to compete in the state meet, which is run by the Maine Recreation and Parks Association and sponsored by the Hershey Co.
The athletes, who came from cities and towns across Maine, were vying to earn spots in the Hershey Track and Field Games North American Final, scheduled Aug. 4-5 in Hershey, Pa.
Tim Baude, Maine chairman for the Hershey Games, said each state and Canadian province is guaranteed five competitors at the North American Final. Mainers are going up against competitors from the other New England states and the Maritimes.
He said it will be approximately two weeks before any of the Maine winners learn whether they earned a trip to Hershey.
“[It’s a] four-day, all-expenses-paid trip by Hershey,” said Baude, adding that the athletes and their parents are flown to Pennsylvania, where they stay and eat for free. “They actually open the [candy-making] plant one day for us. They get to go to Hershey Park, stay at college dorms and get to meet kids from all around the United States and Canada.”
Tuesday’s meet brought together runners, jumpers and throwers in three different age groups: 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14.
Aspen Cote of Madawaska and Daniel Hemminger of Portland demonstrated their versatility as three-event winners.
Cote claimed the 100 meters (14.27 seconds), the 200 (29.71) and the long jump (7 feet, 4½ inches) in the girls 13-14 age group. Hemminger won the 100 (14.32) and also took the 200 (29.80) and the softball throw (147-10) for boys ages 11-12.
Adam Bohlen of Bucksport enjoyed a successful day on the track in the boys 13-14 division. He claimed the 1,600 with a time of 5:41.43 and then won the 800 in 2:34.69.
“It felt great,” said the 13-year-old, who runs middle school cross country and track in Bucksport. “I beat my last record [in the 1,600] by 10 seconds.”
In both races, Bohlen had to fend off late challenges by competitors. He edged Jake Flewelling of Easton in the 1,600 and Thomas Dupuy of Greenville in the 800.
“I heard him [Flewelling] behind me, but that means I know the last lap I had to go even harder,” Bohlen said.
Caribou’s Parker Deprey won the 100 (16.12), the softball throw (119-9) and ran on the first-place 4×100 relay (1:10.87) along with Ethan Holdsworth, Carter Quist and Jordan Duplissie in the 9-10 division. Isaac Robison of Bangor won the 100 (13.36) and the long jump (8-7) for 13-14 boys.
Niko Naranja of Fort Kent won the 400 meters (1:13.67) and was part of a first-place quartet in the 4×100 (1:04.38) along with Alex Nissenbaum, Zachary Nadeau and Max Ouellette among 11- and 12-year-olds.
That group continued Fort Kent’s tradition of excellence in the boys relay. Nadeau, Naranjo and Ouellette had been part of previous Hershey winners.
“If you actually trust your friends, that they can do well, you have this feeling that it’s going to be easier for you to push it because they’re depending on you and themselves,” Ouellette said.
Aroostook County sent 133 athletes to the meet, including a talented 9-10 girls contingent. Paige Espling of Caribou won both the 400 (1:25.61) and the long jump (6-7½) and finished second to Caribou’s Emma Hixon by one-hundredth of a second in the 50.
“I start out jogging and then when I get to that [last] corner I usually start sprinting,” Espling said of the 400.
Bailey Bellefleur of St. Agatha, running for Fort Kent, showed off her speed in the 11-12 girls bracket. The 11-year-old won both the 100 (14.82) and the 200 (31.40).
Fort Kent teammate Dolice Tanguay was a double winner among the 9-10 girls, taking the 100 (16.02) and the 200 (33.94). Kolleen Bouchard of Houlton, competing in the 11-12 girls, threw the softball 129-2 to earn first place and was second in the 100.
“I don’t know if it’s enough to make it to Hershey. They can throw far down there,” she said of her softball throw.
Bouchard also is playing in an all-star softball tournament at Hermon.
Other girls winners included — ages 9-10, girls: 4×100, Houlton (Emma Drew, Alyssa Abbotoni, Grace Johnson, Lauren McGillicuddy), 1:14.71; softball throw, Alana Legasse (PI), 65-8; boys: 50, Connor Demerchant (PI), 8.50; 400, Ethan Holdsworth (Car), 1:19.21; 200, Sawyer Deprey (Car), 34.12; long jump, Holden Stoutameyer (PI) 6-7.
11-12, girls: 400, Annah Rossvall (Portland), 1:08.26; 800, Alexis Rodriguez (Car), 3:09.09; 4×100, PI (Miranda Drost, Kate Goulet, Isabelle Jackson, Libby Moreau), 1:08.48; long jump, Abby Pipkin (Port), 7-1; boys: 800, Evan Michaud (Car), 2:43.28; long jump, Cole Winslow (Hou) 7-1.
13-14, girls: 1,600, Jordan Tanguay (FK), 6:09.53; 800, Gentle Prescott (FK), 2:47.05; 4×100, Easton (Emma Bonner, Sara Gilman, Elise Allen, Breann Clayton), 1:07.10; boys: 100, Isaac Robison (Bangor), 13.36; 200, Jacob O’Berry (PI), 25.71; 4×100, PI (Gavin Kelley, Max Bartley, John Saucier, Jacob O’Berry), 1:01.00; long jump, Isaac Robison (Bangor), 8-7; softball throw, Cole Tweedie (Hampden) 182-9.