Athletes from around the state battled for a state track championship for the first time in two years Saturday.
The Bucksport boys squad had an additional reason to celebrate this return to near normalcy from COVID-19 after winning the program’s first title since 2004 during the Class C title meet at the Brewer Community School.
“This moment right here, we couldn’t haven’t envisioned this months ago,” Golden Bucks head coach Matt Morrison said. “Just having a season, having the opportunity, it was all still in question. I think the joy that comes along with a moment like this is just magnified because we’re just coming out of the tunnel and here’s the light.”
Bucksport outdistanced runner-up Traip Academy of Kittery 75-56, with Washington Academy of East Machias third at 51 points and Orono (46) and Lisbon/Oak Hill and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (45 points each) next in the 30-school field.
Lisbon/Oak Hill captured the girls crown, outscoring Winslow 113-90. Bucksport (56.33) edged Orono (56) and George Stevens (52) for third place.
The Bucksport boys’ effort boasted three individual champions, including senior Gavin Billings, winner of the shot put with a personal-best effort of 47 feet, 1 inch.
“When we went into the [Penobscot Valley Conference meet] last weekend we were hoping to win that and after we won that we came into practice this week really hyped up. We came here ready to really compete today,” said Billings, who also placed third in the javelin and fifth in the discus.
Junior Nathan Paulauskas captured the high jump at 6 feet even for the Golden Bucks while freshman William Hileman won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 35.18 seconds and placed second in the 3,200.
“Winning states as a freshman is such a huge deal,” Hileman said. “I started running in eighth grade and I never thought it would take me this far.
“It was stressful. It felt pretty awful, it was so hot. I don’t know how I survived but I’ve never felt so good in my life.”
Other top finishers for Bucksport included junior Colin Simpson, third in the long and triple jumps, and junior Hugh Jack, fourth in the 100.
Traip’s second-place finish featured victories by Seamus Reeve in the 100 (11.30) and the school’s 4×100 relay team (45.39).
Junior Cameron Bowser paced Washington Academy with victories in the long jump (22-6 1/2) and triple jump (43-8) and a second in the 100.
Also winning two events was Winthrop’s James Cognata in the 200 (23.61) and 400 (50.62)
Orono’s Andrew Melanson, Chase Campbell, Liam Farrell and Trenton Ellis combined to win the the 4×400 relay. GSA’s effort included wins from Franklin Sealander in the 110 hurdles (16.72) and the Eagles’ 4×800 relay team of Andrew Hipsky, Clark Morrison, Noah Czuj and Tom Norgang (8:52.46).
Other boys champions were Aaron Bard of Bangor Christian in the pole vault (12-0), Cade Tooker of Mount Abram of Salem in the javelin (146-3), Jared Martin of Monmouth Academy in the discus (137-8), Spencer Jacques of Dirigo of Dixfield in the 1,600 race walk (8:46.01), Trevor Grenier of Old Orchard Beach in the 300 hurdles (41.74), Hunder Burkhardt of Lisbon/Oak Hill in the 800 (2:07.33) and William Levasseur of Saint Dominic of Auburn in the 3,200 (10:17.22).
The Lisbon/Oak Hill girls used their depth to outlast Winslow and its four-event winner, senior Carly Warn.
Warn, headed to Division I Bryant University next fall on a field hockey scholarship, set personal bests while winning the 100 (12.49) and long jump (17-7 1/4) and also captured the 200 (26.38) and triple jump (36-11 1/4).
The Black Raiders got additional victories from Olivia Tiner in the 400 (1:00.12) and Denali Norris in the 300 hurdles (48.17), but Lisbon/Oak Hill scored in 11 events to secure the team win.
Sophomore Kiana Goldberg paced the champions, winning the 100 hurdles (15.88) and teaming with Mackenna Poisson, Destiney Deschaines and Gabrielle Chessie to capture the 4×100 relay (52.05) while also placing second in the 300 hurdles.
Chessie, Sarah Moore and Deschaines also finished 2-3-4 behind Warn in the triple jump and 3-4-5 in the long jump, with Moore adding a second in the high jump.
Orono freshman Ruth White turned in one of the more dynamic performances of the day, finishing 1-2 with older sister Nora White in both the 1,600 (5:08.52) and 3,200 (11:10.14) and joining Nora White, Julia White (no relation) and Ellie Brooks to win the 4×800 (10:14.33).
“It was fun to have a state championship,” Ruth White said. “It was really exciting just to have meets this year and to be able to do it with all of these great people and my teammates who are kind and supportive and push each other in practice. It was fun to be able to race with them, and everyone did a really good job today.”
Other individual champions were Ava Knowles of Bucksport in the shot put (31-2 3/4), GSA’s Maranda Pert in the discus (112-5), Chloe Dwinal of Monmouth Academy in the 1,600 race walk (8:50.24), Lydia Bennett of Bethel’s Gould Academy in the 800 (2:23.95), Ellie Leech of Seacoast Christian in South Berwick in the javelin (99-10) and Olivia Bean of Hall-Dale in Farmingdale in the pole vault (8-6).
Rose Jenkins of Kents Hill tied the Class C state record of 5-5 1/2 while winning the high jump, while Houlton/Greater Houlton Christian Academy’s quartet of Isabella Ardell, Elena Ardell, Emma Ardell and Samantha Johnson won the 4×400 relay in 4:19.39.