ORONO – Early-season track meets in the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League serve different purposes for different people.
Coaches, for instance, tend to think of the weekly events as teaching opportunities rather than cutthroat competitions.
For some athletes, it’s a chance to renew old acquaintances and make new friends; for yet others, it’s time to step out and try something totally foreign.
And for Hermon pole vaulter Chantelle Haggerty, the first official meet of her junior year served this purpose: It gave her the chance to set a few records.
Haggerty tied the existing league record of 9 feet on her first attempt, then added first-try clearances of 9-1 and 9-2 before missing three times at 9-3.
“We practiced here the other day and I got the chance to practice at 9 feet, and I was working on bending the pole and riding it up instead of bailing out and turning,” said Haggerty, who cleared 8-6 in an exhibition meet last week.
“Usually instead of going all the way up, I stop halfway and I try to jump over it on my own.”
Hermon finished second in the girls meet, dropping a 123-78 decision to Brewer. Old Town finished third with 43 while Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln had 19 and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill finished with six points.
Hermon’s Rhonda Day won the 60 and the 400 and finished second in the 200, while Heather Jovanelli of Brewer added wins in the mile and two-mile.
Hermon coach Sean Wasson was pleased with the Hawks’ showing.
“It’s finally come together,” Wasson said. “The girls last year wanted to finish in the top five. … This year they’re making it their goal to finish in the top four in the league.
“They’ve got confidence in themselves, and I think that’s the biggest thing. The talent’s always been there but it’s been the confidence. Now they know they can hang with the powers of the league,” Wasson said.
The Brewer boys received two individual wins from senior Jon Dearborn (200, 400), two more from classmate Justin Spencer (long jump, 60), and another two-win effort from Ian Fraser (mile, 800) en route to the team win. Dearborn and Fraser also ran legs on the victorious 800 relay team.
The Witches amassed 1291/2 points to Old Town’s 631/2. Mattanawcook Academy (41), Hermon (22), and George Stevens Academy (16) rounded out the field.
Despite the team sweep, Brewer coach Dave Jeffrey, who begins his 22nd year at the helm of the Witches, said early-season meets are about progress, not points.
“It’s not about winning meets like this,” Jeffrey said.
“These meets are meets when we try to do as well as we can as a team, but they’re also kind of practices,” he said.
Jeffrey pointed at a triple jump competition under way to illustrate his point: With Maine’s fickle weather able to wreak havoc with the schedule at any point (last year’s EMITL championship meet was one such casualty), athletes have to take full advantage of any access to top-notch facilities they can get.
“When you only get to jump three times [in a meet] and you’ve only got six meets, you’ve got just 18 jumps in a season,” Jeffrey said.
And that means 18 tries to not only score points, but 18 chances to qualify for championship meets.
“They’re really precious,” Jeffrey said.
For two of his top performers, seniors Dearborn and Spencer, the first regular-season meet meant two different things: Spencer is participating in track for the first time ever, while Dearborn missed last spring’s championship season after tearing a muscle in his leg in the first race of the Penobscot Valley Conference championships.
“I thought I’d just give it a try and see if I liked it and I’m really enjoying it,” Spencer said after setting two personal bests en route to the 60-yard dash win in 6.98 seconds. “It’s really paying off.”
And for Dearborn, last season’s injury has made him appreciate the sport a bit more.
“[It’s] having fun, meeting new people. To me, track is unlike any other sport I’ve ever done,” Dearborn said. “You don’t really converse with the other team … it’s a gentleman’s sport more than anything else.”