ORONO, Maine — The distance runners who came before Sam Nisbett at Bangor High School have left big marks on the program’s success.

Ben Allen, Casey Quaglia, and Riley Masters — names all etched in Eastern Maine Indoor Track League lore — all completed a distance triple as a Rams’ senior and earned Top Performer honors as a result.

Nisbett not only joined that illustrious company with wins in the mile and 800 and a gutsy second-place effort in the 2-mile, but his 28 points helped lead coach Jaime Cooke’s club to a league championship Saturday at the University of Maine.

Bangor, also fueled by Ben Sinclair and Jonathan Belanger, compiled 107 points while Brewer earned runner-up honors with 71.

Hermon, which completed its best season in recent memory and prompted the league’s coaches to award coach Amy Luce with Coach of the Year honors as a result, took third with 63 points, followed by Old Town (49) and Orono (30.5) among 12 teams.

Nisbett was timed in 4 minutes, 51.84 seconds in winning the mile, 2:00.01 in the 800 and 10:24.73 in the 2-mile, which Ben Chapman of Ellsworth covered in 10:05.14 to win.

“I was just holding on the first mile, that 800 killed me,” said Nisbett. “He started to pull away and I knew I wasn’t going to stay with him.”

Even though that 800 did hurt a little, it was quite satisfying for Nisbett. He answered a challenge from Orono’s Phil Benoit, who finished second, and third-place finisher Nick Byers of Hermon while nearly accomplishing his goal of eclipsing the 2-minute barrier.

“When I heard I was a hundredth of a second off, I really wanted it [more],” Nisbett said.

Belanger gave Nisbett plenty of support in the distance races. He earned second in the mile and third in the 2-mile — an event he hadn’t even run prior to the final regular-season meet, but Cooke wanted to maximize her distance points as much as possible, since the Rams had an edge there over the Witches and Hawks.

“We played a little bit with what Jonathan was going to do this week, and he really pulled through,” Cooke said. “He tried the 2-mile for the first time last week [and] he got third today in the 2-mile.”

Other supporting cast members included Dustin Dube, who was fifth in the mile, Alex Shi, fifth in the 800 and Juergen Pilot, sixth in the 2-mile, as the Rams compiled 57 points in the four distance events, which set the tone for the rest of the team.

“It’s a team effort. It’s not just distance, they’re all a great team,” Cooke said. “Where it counts is everybody stepping up. They really bonded together.”

Sinclair did his part in that effort, coming up with wins in the 55 dash in 6.76 seconds and the 200 in 23.29 while also placing fourth in a tough 400.

But once again, the big guns had plenty of help, with Lonnie Hackett earning fifth in the 55 and fourth in the 200; Josiah Hartley came in sixth in the shot put and was second in the high jump; and Josh Dyer placed fifth in the pole vault.

“It is a total team situation, and this year we really worked towards them understanding that and I think they really showed it today,” Cooke said.

Steven Rice of Brewer kept lowering his benchmark in the 55 hurdles, enhancing the fact he’ll be the favorite in the Class A state championships on Feb. 15.

The Witches’ senior won going away in 7.77 seconds, the fastest computerized time in EMITL history.

The league record, set by Rob Pendergist of Ellsworth in 1989, is a 7.5-second hand time, which converts to roughly 7.79 in computer time.

Rice was also second in the 400 while the Witches’ other individual winner was Tristan Wortman, who cleared 12-6 to take the pole vault.

Hermon was sparked by its sprinters and jumpers, including Ryan Feeney, who won the long jump with a mark of 20-8, placed second in the triple jump at 41-½ while he, Byers, Jesse Graffam and Justin Cullens teamed up to run a winning 1:35.41 in the 4×220.

The day’s other champs were Bangor’s 4×880 team of Jack Stacey, Pilot, Shi and Belanger, Bucksport’s Vincent Tymoczko in the 400 and Mount Desert Island’s Nat Hinckley in the shot put.


Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective...