The Penobscot Valley Conference-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League shot put championships went pretty much according to form for Bangor High School junior Camden Lavoie.
After placing fourth at the 2020 Class A indoor state meet, and with the top three all having graduated, she figured to be at the top of Maine’s shot put pack this winter.
Lavoie confirmed that assertion by winning the PVC-EMITL championship by more than five feet during Thursday’s competition at Center Street Gymnasium in Brewer.
Lavoie’s winning throw was 37 feet, 8 inches, five inches farther than her best throw at state. She joined senior teammate Maxxwell Smith as the 2021 league champion in the event as the senior won the boys shot put with a heave of 47-8 1/2.
“Going into it I was a little scared,” Lavoie said. “I always get nervous but I’m happy with how it ended. I just did my best to throw it as far as I could.”
What wasn’t necessarily expected was that Smith and the other 30 athletes who competed in the shot put finals had the chance to compete at all.
The EMITL is believed to be the only league in the state holding championship indoor track events this winter. The pandemic-related closure of field houses that normally host the meets, and an indoor gathering limit of 50 people, have made such competitions largely impossible.
Organizers, led by athletic administrators Dave Utterback of Brewer and Mike Archer of Orono and league officials, improvised. They used different locations and a virtual option to create a monthlong season in several running, jumping and throwing disciplines.
“Mike and I never gave up on the thought of salvaging what we could this winter,” Utterback said.
“I know the kids have appreciated it. They’ve liked coming here every Thursday, and they’ve looked forward to having a championship event with ribbons, because I don’t know if they thought they were going to get that at any point this winter.”
That PVC-EMITL schedule culminates Saturday after three days of individual league championships that began with the final “Thursday Throws” event. The high jump finals were set for Friday, also at the Center Street Gym, followed Saturday by the mile and 800-meter runs at Cameron Stadium in Bangor and the standing broad jump and five-stride jump finals at Bangor High School’s Red Barry Gymnasium.
Archer said officials could not reach a consensus about how to provide sprints, hurdles and the pole vault, since available indoor venues were not adequate and the weather was problematic.
“We checked airport hangars, we checked the Bangor Mall, we checked banquet halls, but in the end it came down to that we couldn’t do those safely,” Archer said.
The hope was some of those competitors might try some new events.
The Center Street Gym’s rubberized floor was a nearly ideal site for the shot put finals, with the boys and girls competing in alternating, rapid-fire fashion from separate circles.
The participants and meet officials were socially distanced, and the relatively small size of the gym compared to a field house made for a lively competition.
“I thought there was good energy in here,” Utterback said. “The kids were into it, and there were some big throws. We tried to give it a championship feel with a livestream focusing on one thrower at a time versus having the two throws simultaneously.”
Smith, seeded second in the boys field, posted his winning effort during the third of four preliminary rounds before the 16-member boys field was pared to seven for the final three throws.
“I knew it was going to be a good day because I did the first one as a standing throw and hit 40 [feet], which was a personal record for the standing throw,” Smith said. “Then I just let it go on the third one and I knew it was going to be good because I felt my form.”
Archer Hill, a senior from Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor, was second with a throw of 45-5 3/4 on his final attempt. Brewer senior Jacob Hill took third at 41-10 1/4.
The top-seeded Lavoie heard Bangor coach Alan Mosca’s exhortation for the “power position” as she prepared for her second attempt in the girls finals. She topped her previous best of the evening by 10 inches.
“Once you get to a certain point in your glide you’re in a power position,” she said. “It’s kind of like a standing throw but you connect it all together. He was emphasizing me getting to that position.”
Brewer sophomore Karessa Anderson finished second at 32-2 and freshman teammate Claire Henry placed third (31-4 3/4).