BANGOR, Maine — It was a hot and sticky day at Thornton Academy’s Hill Stadium on June 6, 2009, the Bangor girls track and field team had just finished third in the Class A state meet, and then-junior Brittney Chapman delivered a prophecy.
She said she was already looking ahead to her senior campaign when the Rams would return a talented nucleus of athletes capable of producing a higher team finish on such a stage.
That core’s drive for postseason success starts this weekend, as the Bangor girls will be seeking their sixth straight PVC title and the boys their fifth in six seasons at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor on Friday.
Preliminary heats start at 3:30 p.m.
The Rams have plenty of reasons to be confident heading into Friday and beyond, as they’ve received contributions all spring from veterans and newcomers.
“They’ve fit in really well and they’ve been a big part of our team,” Chapman said of the talented blend of underclassmen.
They include Ally Vanidestine and Denae Johnson, both freshmen who ripped state-best times in a meet in Lewiston over the weekend.
Vanidestine enters Friday’s action as the top 100- and 200-meter dash runner in the state with personal bests of 12.72 and 26.71 seconds, respectively, and she also has the top PVC mark in the 400 at 1 minute, 60.30 seconds.
Johnson, along with classmate Grace Maclean, is one of the state’s top hurdlers, with the No. 1 Class A mark in the 100’s at 15.38 while she’s third in the 300’s (48.40).
Both runners are gaining confidence with every meet, and they’ve also contributed nicely to Bangor’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
“Each meet I’m usually really nervous and people try to just talk to me and say, just be confident in yourself,” Vanidestine said.
Johnson added, “I’ve gained a lot of confidence. Winning races makes me feel better, that I can do better and that I’ve done my best.”
Johnson’s sister, Deidre, a sophomore, has also figured prominently into Bangor’s sprinting and jumping plans this spring, while junior Anna Hayden and sophomores Laken Thomas, Emma Hardy and Deanne Krapf add to the depth.
Hayden has also been strong in the pole vault this spring, having cleared 9 feet, 6 inches, while Krapf supplies depth in the high jump.
The Rams have also been strong in the throwing events, with junior Hillary Throckmorton emerging into one of the state’s top hurlers in the javelin while Erin Nichols and Mckenna Unobskey have been solid in the shot put and discus.
Casey Pray is also the PVC’s top race walker, and runners like Vanidestine and Johnson have been looking to the upperclassmen for support all season.
“I look up to them a lot, I just try to work hard like they do and stuff and try to get better,” Vanidestine said. “We have a lot of good leaders on this team.”
Bangor’s chief challengers for PVC supremacy appear to be Brewer and Old Town, which feature their own blend of talented challengers such as the Witches’ Teal Jackson, Rachel Craig and Rylee Hutchins and Old Town’s Haley Prygrocki, Katie DeShane and Kayla Brooks.
While the Bangor girls have a mindset of keeping their own dynasty running, the Bangor boys have redemption on their agenda.
The Rams were stripped of their PVC supremacy by Hampden Academy in 2009 — on their home track — and seniors Joey Quinn, son of head coach Joe Quinn, and Sam Nisbett want nothing then to go back to the top.
“Our [goal] right now is five wins out of the last six years, Hampden took it from us last year so we definitely want to get it back,” said Quinn, one of the state’s top discus throwers.
Nisbett, a distance specialist, will have a chance to face Hampden’s Darik Frye for the first time this spring, and running against some of the other top harriers in the state during the regular season, such as Will Geoghegan of Brunswick, should help Nisbett’s cause.
“I’m excited, he’s really stepped his game up, he’s been running some crazy times against some other people,” Nisbett said.
Classmate Ben Sinclair will be looking to add to his championship resume in the sprinting events, while Josiah Hartley (hurdles, shot put, high jump), Jonathon Belanger (distance) and Josh Dyer (sprints, pole vault) are among other Rams who have made strong contributions.
Coach Quinn has instilled a team-oriented theme this season.
“It’s helped a lot this year more than others, we have a lot of stronger, younger freshmen and sophomores that are not only getting better each week, but they’re pushing the older kids to get better each week,” said Joey Quinn.
Brewer and Hampden appear to be the Rams’ top challengers in the PVC.
TICKET INFO: Ticket prices for the Large School meet in MDI are $5 for adults and $3 for students. The prices are the same for the Small School Championship meet 11 a.m. Saturday at Foxcroft Academy.