The Waterville track and field teams broke a handful of records and steamrolled their competition en route to sweeping the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meet last spring for a seventh straight year.
The Purple Panthers are poised to make it eight straight today at McMann Field in Bath. The Lawrence girls, meanwhile, will chase history as they try to win their first KVAC A championship.
The KVAC A and B track championships will begin at 9 this morning.
The Purple Panthers, led by Bethanie Brown and a deep, talented cast, are heavily favored to once again sap the drama out of the KVAC B meet. The KVAC A meet, particularly on the girls side, could be a lot closer, with Messalonskee and Lawrence well-positioned to challenge perennial contenders Edward Little, Lewiston, Brunswick and Mt. Ararat.
Lawrence, led by distance runner Erzsie Nagy and sprinter Sasha Letourneau, is gunning for the first KVAC A girls in coach Tim Alberts 25 years.
Nagy is going to run all the distance events — the 4×800-meter relay, 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Lawrence has the top-seeded 4×800 relay team and Nagy is seeded first in her individual events.
She is the two-time defending KVAC A champ in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
“It’s one of those things you don’t want to jinx anything,” Alberts said. “Looking over the performance lists, it looks like we have a really good shot of being in the top two.”
Letourneau is ranked first in the 100 and third in the 200. The Lawrence girls will also look for big performances from Katie Dudley in the 300 hurdles and freshman Alexis Chamberlain in the 400.
Waterville, like it has the last several years, will treat the KVAC B meet as a tuneup for the state championships June 2. That’s not to say the Purple Panthers aren’t eager to extend its reign in the conference.
“Both teams are in a position that if our kids show up and have a day they are capable of, both could win,” Waterville coach Ian Wilson said.
“We’re just making sure we are prepared at a high level, and that includes performing well at the KVACs. We don’t want to fall flat. This is the get-ready-for-the-big dance thing.”
Brown, the state’s top distance runner, set two records in this meet last season. She’s out for more today.
“Yeah, it would be great,” she said, “but I just want to go out there and do my best. We’re looking pretty good right now. Everybody is getting pumped. There’s going to be good competition there and the times we get will be good to get better seeds at states.
“This meet is good to practice the mindset of going into a championship meet. You get to practice the high-pressure situations a week in advance.”
Kellie Bolduc (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump), Lydia Roy (400) and Georgia Bolduc (200, pole vault) should score well for the Panthers as well.
Jordhan Levine, Chris Cote, Nick Danner and Jordhan Levine lead the Waterville boys. Levine is seeded first in the 300 hurdles and second in the 110 hurdles. He’ll square off with Erskine senior Zac Lee in both events. Cote is the top seed in the 1,600 and 3,200.
“Those should be some great races,” Wilson said.
Burgess is seeded first in the pole vault and second in the long jump. Danner is one of the top throwers in the state as well. He’s the defending KVAC B champ in the javelin.
Amanda Knight and the Messalonskee girls are poised for big days as well. Knight is seeded first in the 200. Taylor Lenentine (long jump, triple jump) should also contend for KVAC A titles.
Winslow senior Alliyah Veilleux is seeded first in the 100, discus and shot put. Erskine senior Bridget Humphrey and Jade Canak could see time on the podium Saturday, as well.
Humphrey is first in high jump while Canak is seeded first in long jump.
Skowhegan also has several athletes who are seeded high in their events. Macy Lee is first in the discus while Allison Lancaster is second in the long jump. Sprinter Jaycee Cushman should challenge Knight and Letourneau in the 100 as well.
On the boys side, Lawrence will look to Mason Travers (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Jake Doolan (javelin) and Jeremy Frantz (discus, shot put) to contend for individual titles.
Cony senior Luke Dang is also seeded first in the 100 and second in the 400.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” Cony coach Jon Millett said. “We’ll be in the hunt.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640