LEWISTON, Maine — Matt Arsenault admits he hasn’t had nerves of steel in the past.
The York senior acknowledges he’s had a case of the jitters when it comes to big meets, but Saturday, he knew he and his fellow Wildcats couldn’t wilt under the pressure.
“I’m one that tends to panic a lot, especially in the past state meets,” Arsenault said. “I’ve struggled with the mental aspect of it. This meet, I was focused on doing what you’ve got to do and it only one jump.”
Arsenault’s resolve paid off at Bates College. He won the triple jump. He was seeded third but was victorious in the event. As if that wasn’t a great enough achievement, the win gave the Wildcats the overall team championship. It was the fourth state title in five years for the York boys.
“It’s actually incredible,” Arsenault said after the victory. “We knew coming in that it would be between us and Foxcroft all the way through.”
York won the meet with 56 points, while Foxcroft Academy settled for second with 44. Mount Desert Island was third with 38 and Old Town followed in fourth place with 34. Traip Academy of Kittery rounded out the top five with 30.
On the girls’ side, Orono ended Waterville’s five-year reign to win its first indoor track state crown. The Red Riots have won four straight Class C outdoor state titles, but Waterville has dominated the B indoor meet in recent years.
“There’s always that thought of what if we could?” senior Lauren Stoops said. “Mostly, it’s about how people do and we hope the individuals or relays have PRs. Then we let the rest take care of itself.”
Orono led for much of the meet and finished with 87 points. Greely of Cumberland was second with 65, while York took third with 50. Yarmouth (36) and Old Town (24.5) were also in the top five respectively.
“We were talking about it this week,” said Orono junior Tia Tardy, who won three events. “Everyone was pumped up. We have a great team with some great athletes. We just wanted to come in here and do our best and whatever the result was we’re going to be happy with it.”
The boys meet was a tight one down the stretch and it appeared as though it might come down to the final relay. After 11 events, York had 41 points, while Foxcroft had 39 and MDI was close behind at 38.
York picked up a point in the two-mile, but the lead was only 42-39 with two events left. In the triple jump, Foxcroft’s Hunter Smith was the top seed, while Arsenault was seeded third. Arsenault won the event with a jump of 40-03.75. Smith finished fifth at 38-07.50, well under his seeded distance of 40-11.50. Arsenault, who also finished third in the hurdles, knew the meet was close and that the triple jump was crucial.
“You just try to forget about the score, even though people are coming up to me and asking, ‘Where are you at? or ‘Where do we stand overall?'” Arsenault said. “Coach always says to ignore everything else as much as possible.”
The win by Arsenault provided enough of a cushion that the final relay didn’t matter. York did finish fourth in that relay, one place ahead of Foxcroft.
“At the beginning of the week, I’m thinking we were going to need divine intervention just for this to happen,” York coach Ted Hutch said. “We were seeded at 36 and they were seeded at 54. But we made up 18 points at the beginning of the meet in the 4×800 and the long jump.”
Stoops and Tardy led Orono’s win in the girls’ meet. Tardy, who transferred from Mattanawcook to Orono this year, achieved the tough distance triple of winning the 800, mile and two mile.
“I knew there would be some tough competition here,” Tardy said. “So I wasn’t expecting to win. There are great girls here and everybody had great performances today. I just come in with a strategy in mind. I just do what I can.”
Tardy won the mile in 5:10.46 and added a win in the 800 in 2:23.24. She completed the day with a victory in the two mile in 11:30.72. She was the defending state champ in both the 800 and the two mile.
“After doing the mile and the 800, my legs were really tired and I’m coming off a cold,” Tardy said. “So the two mile is just whatever’s left in the tank and I used it up. I try not to burn myself out at the beginning of the race. I’ve definitely been there before. So I just learn as I go and whatever is there, I use up every last bit of it.”
Stoops won the hurdles in 8.70 and won the 200 in 26.68. She finished second in the 55 dash in 7.49, losing to Yarmouth’s Emma Egan. Stoops was the top seed in both the hurdles and 200 and was seeded second to Egan in the dash.
“I think it’s amazing for our team,” Stoops said of the day. “Normally, it’s the bigger teams that win because they have the depth. We have a lot of very talented people on our teams.”