GORHAM — Greg Viola of Scarborough rediscovered the pole vault six weeks ago and in that time, has made tremendous progress.
So much so that he won the event Monday with a vault of 13 feet, 6 inches that helped carry the Red Storm to their third consecutive Class A indoor track championship at the University of Southern Maine.
Viola and Alec James, the defending champion who finished second in the vault, led Scarborough to a four-point win over Cheverus.
Scarborough totaled 61 points; Cheverus had 57. They were followed by Lewiston (36), Edward Little (34) and Brunswick (29).
The Red Storm collected 18 points in the pole vault, which allowed them to pass the Stags late in the meet. Cheverus won the final event — the 800-meter relay — in record time, but Scarborough took second, also beating the state record.
Mt. Blue High School’s Justin Tracy won the mile in 4 minutes, 26.18 seconds, a second better than Robert Hall of Scarborough (4:27.24).
The Bangor girls used an even bigger point pickup in the pole vault, 26.5 points, to capture their first girls’ state indoor championship by a half-point over Thornton Academy.
Bangor finished with 70.5 points, Thornton had 70 and Bonny Eagle was third at 68.
Those also were the scores heading into the 800 relay, also the final event, but all three teams failed to score. Twenty teams scored in the girls’ meet.
The pole vault wasn’t completely new to Viola, but pretty close.
“I did it for one week in preseason my freshman year but didn’t think it was my thing,” said Viola, who also competes in the 200, 400 and relays.
Just before the start of the regular season, Viola asked coach Derek Veilleux if he could try the event again, and started working with Scarborough pole vault coach William Bertinet.
“He’s been great,” Viola said. “He knows exactly what to tell me to make me better. Coach put me on bigger poles to get better.”
Viola used a 15-foot pole for the first time Monday.
Bertinet, who has been coaching for 28 years, called Viola a natural.
“Everything he does, he’s good at. We worked a lot on fundamentals. He did a few practice vaults with the longer pole. We went with eight steps and I told Greg we’re going for it all,” said Bertinet.
Still … a state title?
“I thought Greg would get second,” Bertinet said. “I never thought he would vault 13-6 and win.”
With first place secured, Viola had the bar raised to 14 feet, which he just missed clearing on his final attempt.
“I’ve never won an individual state title before,” said Viola, who has been on the track team four years. “I think it’s pretty interesting I did it in an event that I had never done before. It was awesome.”
Trying something new isn’t unusual for Viola. He came out for football for the first time as a junior after having played soccer. Last fall he was a top receiver while handling all the kicking.
Who knows? A baseball player in the spring, maybe Viola will try lacrosse.
Leading up to the pole vault, Scarborough did enough to get in position for another title.
“These guys are used to winning,” Veilleux said. “We knew the focus was on this meet. We got contributions from everyone and had people running their personal best.”
A good example of that, Veilleux pointed out, was freshman Colin Tardiff in the mile and 2-mile. He was seeded seventh in the mile and finished fourth, then placed sixth in the 2-mile.
“You just can’t find points like that,” said Veilleux.
There were three individual records along with Cheverus’ team record in the 800 relay.
Edie Pallozzi of Deering set a Class A record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:17.27.
Alex Nichols of Brunswick set a record in the 400 meters with a time of 49:93.
And Ethan Beaulier of Noble tied a record in the 55 with a time of 6.60. That equaled the mark set by Colby Brooks of Edward Little in 2006.
Cheverus broke a 27-year-old record in the 800 relay with the quartet of James Campbell, Brady Foshay, Jake Dixon and Jackson McMann with a time of 1:32.96.
Grace MacLean of Bangor won three events (55 hurdles, high jump and long jump). The Rams went 1-2-3 in the pole vault with Courtney Lizotte, Abby Reynolds and Morgan Johnson. Danielle Clark of Bangor also took fifth.
“The pole vault was huge,” said Bangor coach Jaime Jarvis. “That was our swing event. It gave us huge momentum and we continued to keep it.”