BREWER, Maine — Teal Jackson wasn’t happy with the first lap of her initial 400-meter race of the indoor season.
So, going into last Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference/Eastern Maine Indoor Track League meet, the Brewer High School senior said, “I wanted to go out and make a statement.”
Jackson shot out of the blocks, covering the first half of the race in 26.3 seconds, then hung on over the last 200 meters to win in 57.85 seconds at the University of Maine field house.
The performance not only established a conference record, it was the fastest 400 meters run indoors in Maine schoolgirl history.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Jackson, who is the defending Class A outdoors champion in the 400.
Jackson eclipsed the previous indoor mark of 58.26 set by Danielle Hutchins of Mount Desert Island on Feb. 7, 2009.
The emphasis Saturday was for Jackson to run a faster first 200 meters. She accomplished that, but wound up slowing down (31 seconds) during the second half of the race.
“I told her, Teal, that’s the slowest 200 you’ve ever run in your life,” joked first-year Brewer High School head coach Dan Juilli.
“On my second lap I could tell that I kind of pushed it really hard [during the first 200],” said Jackson, who paid for it.
She wound up getting sick after the run and subsequently had to be scratched from the 200 meters and the 4×200 relay.
“It’s painful,” she said. “Most of it’s just mental. You have to push yourself through it. Everyone feels tired the second lap.”
Jackson set the record even without being seriously pushed by the rest of the field. Runner-up Sinclaire Tasker, a Brewer teammate, finished six seconds back in 1:03.88.
As is often the case during PVC/EMITL meets, Jackson had to set her own pace.
“I’m used to running by myself. I’ve learned to push myself through the time,” said Jackson, who was hoping to post a time that would secure her a high seeding in next month’s state championship meet.
Juilli said Jackson has an exceptional inner drive that allows her to achieve at a high level.
“She doesn’t like to lose, for sure,” he said.
“She’s got that mentality, you’re going to hurt if you’re going to beat her,” added Juilli, who has coached Jackson throughout her career at Brewer High.
Jackson’s record does not represent the fastest 400 meters she has run. She clocked a personal-best 57.39 to win the event at last spring’s PVC Large School Championship.
“Running the 400 outdoors is a lot easier than it is indoors because the turns [indoors] are a lot sharper and I’m running twice as many turns,” she said.
Jackson goes into Saturday’s 7 a.m. ”minimeet” at UMaine hoping to run a more balanced 400. She also will have a little extra motivation as her sister Tia Jackson, a junior at Old Town, is expected to line up alongside her in one or two races.
“I don’t want my little sister to beat me,” Teal said. “I’m more competitive with her, although I’m proud when she does well.”
Juilli enjoying new duties
Juilli is hoping to inject plenty of enthusiasm this winter after taking over as Brewer’s head indoor coach.
The 24-year-old is a 2006 Brewer grad who spent the last four years as an assistant with the program.
“I think I get the kids excited about what they’re doing,” said Juilli, who is among the youngest head track coaches in the state.
Juilli expressed his appreciation to Brewer athletic administrator Dave Utterback and other Brewer coaches for supporting him and having faith in him to take on the responsibilities.
Juilli said he has eagerly solicited advice from some experienced Brewer coaches, Glen Holyoke in particular.
“He’s been around track for a while, so he’s really helping me out a lot,” Juilli said.
He also praised Dave Jeffrey and Glendon Rand for their assistance.
Juilli, who handles Brewer’s sprinters and jumpers, said coaching track and field is challenging.
“You have to know the high jump, the long jump, the pole vault, the sprints,” he said. “It keeps me on my toes, for sure.”
Juilli works as a service technician at Holden Family RV. He also has received the support of his boss, Matt Collins, one of the co-owners, who himself is a former head track coach at Brewer.
“They have been great,” Juilli said. “The hardest thing to do was find a job that lets you get out at 2 o’clock every day.”
Collins has helped Juilli taylor his work schedule around team practices and events.