LEWISTON — When a Waterville Senior High School sports team wins a state title, it is greeted upon its arrival home by firetrucks for a victory parade back to school.
On Monday night, the Purple Panthers could take two laps around the Elm City. The girls and boys indoor track and field teams each won the Class B state title, at Bates College. It was the fourth in a row for the girls, who scored 90 points for the win, and their fifth title in six years.
The championship was the first indoor title for the Waterville boys, who in recent years made a habit of finishing a close second. The Panthers scored 60 points for the win.
“We’ve been runner-up too many times to count. It’s nice to finally get it done,” Waterville coach Ian Wilson said. “The girls just keep doing what the girls do. I marvel at them.”
On the girls side, Greely (64.5 points) was second, and York third (37). In the boys meet, last season’s champ York was second (41) with Mt. Desert Island third (37).
The Waterville boys started the day slowly, but got rolling when Troy Gurski and Jordhan Levine finished one-two in the 55 meter hurdles.
“I didn’t do a really good job as a coach preparing them mentally. I think they were very nervous at the start of the meet. A lot of the kids had some jitters. I could have done a better job helping them calm down,” Wilson said.
Gurski stumbled a little out of the blocks, but quickly recovered to win the hurdles in 8.09 seconds, just ahead of his friend and training partner Levine (8.13).
“I’ve been shooting for this ever since I started hurdles. I’ve got it in my hand now,” Gurski said, clutching his first place medal in his right hand. “When it came down to it, I didn’t mind first or second, because we beat each other every day in practice.”
Gurski and Levin also finished one-two in the triple jump. Gurksi won with a jump of 43 feet, 10.5 inches, with Levine jumping 43-5.25.
“They’re really good friends. They compete against each other in practice. I think they were happy for each other to have a good day,” Wilson said.
The Waterville girls won using the same script they’ve used so often. The Panthers overwhelmed the field with depth, scoring points in nine of the 14 events, including some unexpected points in a few events.
“Gabby Bridger was unseeded in the 55 dash and took a fourth. She was seeded for just a couple points in pole vault and takes second. Those are the kinds of things we try to emphasize with the team. That’s where your points pile up,” Wilson said. “They’re confident because they’ve been here before. I’m very, very lucky to have some extremely talented kids come through our program.”
Sarah Shoulta won two events for the Panthers, the pole vault and the 55 hurdles. Shoulta went nine feet to win the pole vault. In the 55 hurdles, Shoulta was pushed by Traip’s Ashleigh Roberts, last season’s state champion, before winning in 8.76 seconds.
“I knew my start was really weak, right out, because I could see the Traip girl right next to me. I began to panic a little bit, but I said to myself, âJust relax. You always do much better at the end of the race,'” Shoulta said. “Over the last hurdle, she was right there. I was OK, I’ve just got to sprint this out and dive.”
Rachael Bergeron was the top seed in the girls shot put for Waterville, and won with a throw of 37-0.5. Prior to throwing, Bergeron accepted advice from Nick Margitza, a Waterville graduate who now throws for Bates and worked the throwing area at Monday’s meet.
“Nick Margitza told me before it started, âDo all of your thinking outside of the circle.’ That’s just what I was trying to do,” Bergeron said.
Kellie Bolduc won the triple jump for the Panthers, defending her 2013 title.
“It was really all mental for me. I know I can do it. I’ve got the steps down. I’ve just got to prepare mentally and do it,” Bolduc said.
The dominant individual performance of the day belonged to Lake Region’s Kate Hall, who set state records in the 55 (7.05 seconds), 200 (25.36) and long jump (19-3.75).