A “distance triple” is no easy task for a track and field athlete, particularly in the heat of championship competition.
That challenge of running 3 1/2 miles between the 1,600-, 800- and 3,200-meter races over the course of a six-hour track meet is one that Paul Casavant is prepared to meet head-on this weekend.
The Hampden Academy senior, who has had a remarkable four-year career with the Broncos and will be competing at the Division I level (Cornell University) in the fall, will be chasing individual and team glory at Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference large school championships at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor.
The meet featuring the league’s Class A and B schools starts at 11 a.m., with the small-school meet scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft.
Casavant’s attempt at the distance triple will undoubtedly be a key factor in Hampden’s team success, as he’s seeded first in the 1,600 at 4 minutes, 30.79 seconds and the 3,200 (9:36.04).
He’s the No. 2 man in the 800, behind sophomore teammate Wyatt Lord, who has a half-mile clocking of 2:00.50 to his credit, while Lord is ranked second in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200.
Fortunately for Hampden, the leadership role is one that Casavant relishes, and it has shown in workouts and in race situations.
“He understands what it takes from a mental and a physical side,” said Hampden coach Jason Kash. “He also understands he has a role, he’s got to give that knowledge to younger athletes.”
That includes Lord, who has had a strong season in his own right and is part of why the Broncos will have a chance to be atop the podium when all is said and done this weekend.
“In Wyatt’s case, it’s been nice to be able to see a runner go through that and have success,” Kash said. “Wyatt, he has his own role on the team and Paul is very good for him in terms of what a model looks like.”
Casavant has had to overcome a bit of adversity himself this year, working his way back from an injury suffered during cross country season to lead his team to a Class A North regional runner-up finish while earning PVC-EMITL Top Performer honors last winter.
Casavant’s cross country injury was one thing Hampden coaches were monitoring coming into the spring so as to not overload his mileage.
“He’s mindful of his mileage and not trying to do too much,” Kash said. “We’ve been very contingent of keeping his mileage manageable. “
Other individuals to watch out for in the boys competition include one of the country’s best throwers in Brewer senior Austin Lufkin and teammate Jacob McCluskey.
Lufkin is the top man in the shot put and discus while McCluskey boasts the league’s best mark in the javelin amongst his large-school brethren.
MDI, which won the Class B indoor state championship, features the top seeds in the high, triple and long jumps in Noah Hutchinson, Giovanni McKenzie and Chris Farnsworth, respectively.
For the girls, host MDI will be one of the teams to beat, along with Brewer, Hampden and Bangor.
The Trojans’ advantage will come from having two of the best all-around athletes in the meet in distance runner Tia Tardy and sprinter Ashley Anderson.
Anderson is the top seed in the dashes (100, 200 and 400) while Tardy is favored to repeat the distance triple she conquered last winter.
In addition, both athletes are listed on MDI’s 4×400 relay, and both Tardy and Anderson have broken the 60-second barrier at the quarter-mile distance this spring.
Brewer, coming off a victory in the the regular-season finale, the River City Rivals meet with Bangor, Lewiston and Edward Little, is the reigning meet champion and features a top sprinter of its own in Lia Johnson.