The track and field regular season is screeching to a halt with conference and state champions set to be crowned in the next three weeks.
The stretch of big meets begins Friday for several teams that will converge at Cony for the annual under-the-lights competition.
Nine teams, including Cony, Hall-Dale, Gardiner, Erskine, Monmouth and Winthrop, will compete in one of the biggest regular-season meets of the season.
“We can’t wait,” Cony coach Jon Millet said. “We’re getting to the end. It seems like we just started but here we are. We’re looking for many of the kids to peak. This is their time to shine, especially for the seniors. This could be the last opportunity for some of them to compete, perhaps for the rest of their lives.”
The throwing events will start the meet at 4 p.m. The track events are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.
There are an abundance of intriguing events scheduled for Friday, including the boys 100-meter dash that features Cony senior Luke Dang and Hall-Dale senior Tyler Fitzgerald.
The two put on a show last year with Fitzgerald winning the 100 in 11.21 with Dang finishing right behind in 11.32. Dang then won the 200 in 23.01 while Fitzgerald was second in 23.54.
“There are some rematches going on there,” Millet said. “They should be some good races.”
Hall-Dale coach Jarod Richmond agreed.
“They put on a really good show last year and it should be a lot of fun to watch them again,” he said. “Luke Dang is a special sprinter. This should be a fun time. It’s the last time they’ll run against each other in high school.”
Millett also said he’s looking forward to seeing what Lindsey Folsom can do in the long jump. Already one of the top pole vaulters in the state, Folsom jumped 14 feet, 9 inches in the long jump at a meet last week at Maranacook.
“She went from being not even on the radar to being exceptional in that area,” Millet said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
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Erik Dodge, like most athletes, tried to qualify for conference and state championship meets in several events.
Unlike most athletes, the Erskine junior succeeded in a rare combination of events. Dodge qualified for the Class B state championships in the 100 and 3,200.
“I’ve never seen something like that,” Erskine coach Dave Hickey said. “He’s a unique athlete. He’s a distance guy who really trained hard. He hit the weights hard and packed on quite a bit of muscle. The extra strength really paid off. He’s just a natural all-around athlete.”
Dodge doesn’t run the 100 and 3,200 in one meet. Instead, he alternates running sprints and distance events from meet to meet.
“He’s also run the 400, 800 and, in another meet, he ran the 300 hurdles,” Hickey said.
Dodge is one of several Erskine athletes enjoying strong springs.
Jade Canak easily broke a school record in the triple jump when she jumped 35-7.75 at a meet at Camden Hills last week. Bridget Humphrey is the top discus thrower in Class B, if not the state.
“I expected them to do really well but they’ve exceeded even those expectations,” Hickey said. “Jade smashed a 23-year old record by nearly a foot. Bridget is throwing the discus now farther than she did at New Englands last year. They’ve had great years.”
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The Winthrop girls have won three consecutive meets, including a big one last week at Telstar that featured nearly every school in the Mountain Valley Conference.
“We’ve been pretty pumped with some of our performances,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “The girls have just been rolling right along.”
Junior Rachel Ingram won the long jump (15-2.5) and triple jump (32-8) to lead the Ramblers. Ingram recently tied the school record in the triple jump when she jumped 34-6 two weeks ago.
“Hopefully, she can pop off a big one and get it all by herself,” Van Tassel said. “She’s had her eyes on that record since she was a freshman.”
Mary-Claire Blanchard (hurdles), Molly Kieltyka (distance) and freshman Jada Choate (distance) are also scoring well.
“We have a real strong group of distance runners,” Van Tassel said. “We’ve been scoring a ton of points in the 800 and (1,600) and (3,200).”
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The Hall-Dale boys are finally getting healthy, and it comes at the right time.
Richmond said several athletes have been suffering from a variety of injuries, including standout sprinter Fitzgerald.
The senior missed the last two meets with a knee injury but plans to compete Friday at Cony.
“It will be good to get him back,” Richmond said. “He’s missed the last couple of meets. He’s looking to get back into the swing of things. Knock on wood, the boys are finally looking pretty good.”
On the girls side, Isabelle Jackson and freshman sprinter Mattie Marseglia are enjoying strong seasons. Jackson was second in the 300 hurdles (52.01) at a five-team meet last week at Cony. She also helped the 4×100 relay team to a second-place finish. Marseglia finished second in the 100 (13.66).
“We’re looking really good on the girls side,” Richmond said.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640