FAIRFIELD — For the 10th straight year, the Community Cup is returning to the only home it has ever known.
The Waterville Senior High School boys and girls outdoor track teams each held onto their titles at Lawrence High School on Thursday, although in some cases it was not as decidedly one-sided as it has been in the past.
The Purple Panther girls team won the meet with 144 points, but were closely followed by Messalonskee with 122. Winslow (106), Skowhegan (105.50) and Lawrence (102.50) also put forth very respectable showings, making it the most competitive girls meet Lawrence coach Tim Alberts can remember.
“This is by far the closest,” he said. “Normally we would have a girls team that was in the 30s or 40s and then another in the 60s or 70s but the scores today were just phenomenal.”
That being said, the Panthers were not on full championship bore. Sarah Shoulta, one of the best athletes in the state, sat out the meet for precautionary reasons.
“Sarah’s out for probably just this last meet,” Waterville coach Ian Wilson said. “We want her healthy and ready for KVACs and states.”
Kellie Bolduc certainly made up for Shoulta’s absence, as she won the 100 and 300 hurdles, triple jump and the 4×400 relay along with Lydia Roy, Jordan Jabar and Brooke Ettinger. The 4×400 — along with Rachel Bergeron’s two wins in the shot put and discus — proved to be crucial in closing out the Eagles, who trailed the Panthers 113-111 through 16 of the 19 events.
Keeping Messalonskee in the hunt was its outstanding trio of Amanda Knight, Taylor Lenentine and Kaitlin Eschenbrenner.
Knight had top three finishes in the 100, 200 and 400, Lenentine placed first in the pole vault and second in the triple jump and Eschenbrenner won the javelin.
“They’re good athletes and they work hard,” Messalonskee coach Scott Wilson said. “You’re always there when you’re scoring that many points with those three kids.”
If the girls meet revealed anything though, it’s that Messalonskee, Winslow, Skowhegan and Lawrence are all improving and working to close the gap between them and Waterville.
“The competition here in central Maine has gotten better,” Skowhegan coach Dave Evans said. “Waterville has always been the standard that everyone has been gauging their program by and it’s a great complement to the Waterville team and Ian, but I think Tim Alberts with his kids they’re constantly getting better.
“Messalonskee has done a great job with that program for not having a good track facility to train on. Their kids have put some really strong commitments in, and then Winslow with the coaching changes the past couple years, they’ve traditionally been pretty strong. I see them coming back.”
On the boys side, however, the Purple Panthers put on a show.
Waterville racked up an impressive 233.33 points to coast past Messalonskee (145) and Skowhegan (103). Lawrence and Winslow rounded out the scoring with 70.33 and 28.33 points, respectively.
It was a record-setting day for the Panthers’ Troy Gurski. After missing the Community Cup record in the 110 hurdles by one-hundredth of a second earlier in the meet, he went on to break the top mark in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 7 3/4 inches. Chris Cote, Jordhan Levine and Colby Vince also won multiple events for Waterville.
“I was really happy for him,” Wilson said. “Troy has come a long way. Emotionally and physically he has really come so far, so it’s gratifying as a coach to see one of your kids improve that much.”
Of course, the Community Cup is not all about who wins and loses. It’s about exactly what its name suggests: Community.
There was no greater example of that on Thursday than at the end of the boys 200 meters.
Earlier in the meet, Lawrence’s Dakota White (11.84 seconds) edged out Messalonskee’s Jesse Donisvitch (11.86) in what was the most competitive running event of the day.
“For me it was my highlight,” White said. “Jesse is No. 2 in the state and my goal was to beat him.”
The two met again later in the 200, but the result was far different.
Coming around the second turn White caught a cramp and was visibly limping by the time he crossed the finish line well behind Donisvitch and Waterville’s Theo Heaven, who took second and third, respectively, behind Vince. Neither Donisvitch nor Heaven hesitated to help White once they noticed he was injured though, as the two helped him make his way over to the trainer’s tent.
“It just shows that even though we’re from different schools and from different regions we all show the same appreciation for the love of the sport,” White said. “It’s just one big family. Even though we have rivalries, we’re all together.”
The running joke is that since the Panthers have won the Community Cup every year that it should be named the “Waterville Cup.”
It’s instances like Donisvitch and Heaven helping out White that show the current name could not be more appropriate.
Evan Crawley——621-5640 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Evan_Crawley