LEWISTON — Seating at Merrill Indoor Gymnasium at Bates College is at a premium. During the Class B indoor track and field championship Monday, a group of Waterville fans, dressed in their best purple and black, took up the space in the small bleachers directly across from the awards podium.
As Purple Panther after Purple Panther approached the podium to accept honors, their fans never had to move.
Led by senior Bethanie Brown’s record-setting effort in the 1-mile and 2-mile, the Waterville girls cruised to their third consecutive state title. The Panthers scored 112 points, well ahead of second place Greely (69.6 points) and third place Traip (38).
“If anything, I should have settled down a little bit and not worn myself out cheering so much. It’s been a good day. It’s really fun to be a Waterville team member,” Brown said.
York won the boys title with 76 points. Foxcroft Academy was second with 46, and Waterville third with 44 points.
The Waterville girls overwhelmed the meet with depth, scoring points in 11 of the 14 events.
“We scored a lot of points. We had a lot of kids in different event. We’re fortunate to not have to rely on one or two or three kids and ride those horses. We’ve got multiple kids who can score,” Waterville coach Ian Wilson said.
Brown’s big day began with the mile. Halfway through the race, Brown had a seven second lead over the field, and her winning time of 5 minutes, 0.31 seconds was almost two seconds faster than the record she set last year.
“It kind of went like this in my head: I’m going to go out as fast as I can in the mile, and just do what I can do,” Brown said. “Then I remember I have to run the 800. So I’m going to try and kill that and really compete against some pretty good competition. Then I’ll have the two mile, and I’ll go hard in that and see what I have left.”
Brown was seeded second in the 800, behind Ellsworth’s Aleta Looker. Brown was caught in the pack early in the race, but by the final three laps, she and Looker had separated from the field. They were even until the final lap, when Looker pulled ahead to win in 2:18.96 to Brown’s 2:19.30.
“I really fought to the finish line. It’s not done until the finish line. She got me. She had a good race,” Brown said.
Brown was seeded well ahead of the competition in the 2-mile, and the question wasn’t if she would win, but if she would have enough left to break the state record. Wilson’s fears were set to rest when he spoke to Brown before the race.
“She approached me and said, ‘Coach, I really want to break the two mile state record.’ That’s just the kind of kid she is. She’s run two really hard races. Her mind isn’t on, just try and get through it. Her mind is, what’s the record and I want to get it,” Wilson said.
Brown won the 2-mile with a time of 10:46.95, breaking the old state record of 10:48.28.
“I felt kind of tired at the end. I was feeling the effects of having two other fast races. But I wanted it,” Brown said. “When I came though the first mile at 5:20, I meant to come through a little faster. I was like, you know what? I’m feeling pretty strong. I think I can do a pretty even double. That’s what my goal was.”
Waterville’s Lydia Roy won the 400 with a time of 1:01.85, a personal best for the season.
“I knew I had to hammer out the first lap. Since I knew they were all behind me, I knew I had to keep that pace up,” Roy said.
Kellie Bolduc was also an individual winner for the Waterville girls, taking the triple jump with a leap of 36 feet, 3.5 inches. Bolduc made her winning jump on her second attempt of the finals.
“I was just getting nervous. I knew I had to get a good jump out there, so I tried my best and got a good one,” Bolduc said.
Devin Burgess was Waterville’s lone winner on the boys side, taking the pole vault with a vault of 13-6. Burgess said it took a few attempts to feel comfortable with the new pole he used, and with tough competition from Orono’s David Frederick, Burgess expected he might have to break the state record, 14-00.75, to win.
Burgess attempted 14-1, and came close on his first try. After making it over the bar, Burgess scraped it on his way down, disappointing a crowd that had already begun to applaud what looked to be a successful vault.
“I thought I had it. My stomach hit it on the way down. It was definitely a good attempt,” Burgess, who won his third straight state title, said.
Lake Region’s Kate Hall set a pair of records, in the 200 (25.62 seconds), and the long jump, where she jumped 17-11.5. Hall also won the 55 (7.17), where she edged Waterville’s Georgia Bolduc and Winslow’s Alliyah Veilleux.
Denzel Tomaszewski of Wells set a record in the boys 55, with a time of 6.53. Foxcroft’s Don Boyer set a record in the 55 hurdles (7.68), and also won the triple jump (41-9.5) and high jump (6-0).
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242