BATH, Maine — Thanks to the efforts of Bethanie Brown and Nick Danner, the Waterville High School boys and girls outdoor track and field teams swept the Class B state championships Saturday in sunny 90-degree weather at McMann Field.
“I don’t have words how it feels right now. It’s awesome,” said Waterville coach Ian Wilson of the sweep. “The older I get, the more thrilling it is to see kids setting high standards and achieving them. It really warms the heart to see this group of kids do this today.”
Brown posted three individual victories, including a state-record 2 minutes, 16.50 seconds in the 800-meter run, and anchored the victorious 4-by-400 relay team (4:10.19).
She also won the 1,600 (4:56.34) and 3,200 (10:36.36) to help account for 40 of the Panther girls’ 136 points.
“I’ve never done the 800 in the outdoor, so I knew it was going to be a tough day even if it was perfect running weather,” said Brown, who will be running for the University of Connecticut next year. “Then it was really hot, so that upped the nervousness a little bit. I was just really determined because it’s my senior year and I just wanted to score as many points as possible and run my races fast.”
Kate Hall of Lake Region also posted three individual titles and participated in a relay win to propel the Lakers to a second-place finish with 64 points, followed by Winslow 60, Greely of Cumberland Center 58.5, Old Town 45 and Falmouth 38.
Danner turned in a state-record throw of 192 feet, 9 inches on his final attempt to win the javelin and also won the shot put (47-4 1/2) as the Purple Panthers outdistanced a challenging Falmouth team with 96 points to 87.5 for the Yachtsmen.
York took third with 66, followed by Belfast 43.5, Ellsworth 41 and Greely 40.
“On seeds, we were ahead fairly significantly, but there was no doubt in my mind that York and Falmouth [who tied for the team title last year] would be a lot closer,” Wilson said. “They always bring it, they are big-meet competitive teams.”
For the girls, Waterville grabbed the momentum when sophomores Sarah Shoulta and Kellie Bolduc went 1-2 in the 100 hurdles, respectively, and Alexa Frame came in seventh for a 19-point pickup. The Panthers were never headed after that, but it didn’t hurt to have Brown’s wins, starting with the 1,600 just before 1 p.m., the 800 at 3 p.m., the 3,200 at 4 p.m. and the final relay at close to 5:30.
“A lot of young runners could learn a lot from the way she stayed in the shade, kept ice on her neck, kept her warmups to a real minimum today just because she knew that overdoing it in this kind of heat would put her at a disadvantage at the end of the day,” said Wilson.
Hall won the 100 dash in a state-record 12.12 seconds in the prelims followed by a 12.15 in the final. The old mark was also Hall’s, a 12.33 in last year’s state final. Hall also crushed the state mark in the long jump with a leap of 18-5 3/4, breaking the former mark of 17-8 1/4 set by Lisa Kent in 1982. Hall also won the 200 (25.49) and ran the second leg on the 4-by-100 relay (50.65).
While the heat was an issue, Hall said she likes it better than the cold.
“It’s good for your muscles, and it helps you to warm up, but if you’re in it too long it can drain you,” she said.
Hall had hoped to get the 200 record as well but knew she might not because of the heat and it was her last event.
“That’s OK, there’s still next year, and I’m still happy with how today went,” she said.
Shoulta added two more wins in the 300 hurdles (46.07) and the pole vault (9-6).
Kaitlin Saulter of Hermon broke the state record in the 400 at 57.7 seconds, just under her old mark of 58.0 from two years ago.
Senior Christina Kouros of Cape Elizabeth snapped wheelchair state records in the 1,600 (6:06.19) and 800 (3:06.20).
Where the Waterville girls were stronger in the track events, the boys shined on the field side.
Devin Burgess won the long jump (21-7) and was second in the pole vault (13-6) and Jordhan Levine won the triple jump (41-10 1/2) to complement Danner’s wins.
“There’s always pressure in a state meet,” said Danner. “You just want to make sure you have the best day possible, then if you come up short you try to make up somewhere else, and I think we did that today.”
Danner pointed to himself as an example of coming up short.
“I messed up a little bit in the [discus],” he said. “Seeded first, then screwed up and didn’t place at all. Made up for it in the jav. Won that and got the state record.”
He was glad to get the javelin record this time around.
“I wanted to get it last year and I came up two feet short,” said Danner. “It’s a nice feeling to have the state record on your last throw and beat your PR [190 feet].”
His goal was to break 200 feet this year, but the team focused on the discus and shot put to try to get more points there. That’s why Danner felt bad about the discus.
“It’s really stressful for me when we’re strong in the field events,” said Wilson, “because it comes down to just meticulous little things like being right on the board, having your steps correct in the high jump and pole vault, mechanics in the throwing events. It’s easier when you have a very strong team on the track. You can just cheer for them and let ’em do their thing.”
Dan Curts of Ellsworth set a state record in the 1,600 at 4:14.02 and also won the 3,200 (9:37.54).
“I’ve never gone out anywhere close to that fast in the mile at all. Not anywhere close,” said Curts, who has done 4:21 indoors for a full mile and was shooting for 4:16 Saturday.
“I’m really excited with 4:14. I knew I could run a PR, but this I’m really pumped with,” he said.
Later, he completed the distance double with his 3,200 win, a race he had done once this spring to help two teammates qualify and for him to get a seed time.
“Running it [hard] for the first time this season, it was rough after that mile and the heat really got to me today. But it didn’t feel too bad,” said Curts, who, like many of the state’s best track and field competitors will participate in the New England Championships on Saturday at Willowbrook Park in New Britain, Conn.