The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference outdoor track and field championships are Saturday at Morse High School in Bath, and once again everyone will be chasing Waterville in Class B.
Both teams are the defending Class B state champs — with the girls having won the past seven titles — and each Purple Panther squad has turned away all challengers so far this season.
“Both teams are poised to be strong contenders for the KVAC title,” Waterville coach Ian Wilson said. “Our boys cover the events really pretty well. We’ve got potential scorers in just about every event.
“…But, you don’t win meets based on what you did last year so you have to show up and perform.”
Centered around a group led by Troy Gurski, Jordhan Levine and Colby Vince, Waterville’s boys not only feature top-end talent but a ton of depth as well. Last week at the Community Cup — which featured solid Class A schools like Messalonskee, Skowhegan and Lawrence — Waterville roasted the runner-up by 90 points. Wilson said he expects Belfast to be his team’s strongest competition.
The girls, meanwhile, only held off Messalonskee by 22 points at the Community Cup, but that was with standout Sarah Shoulta sitting out for precautionary reasons to make sure she was healthy for KVACs. Between Shoulta, Lydia Roy, Kellie Bolduc and Rachel Bergeron, among others, the Panthers have plenty of athletes capable of racking up major points.
“The Camden girls look strong, and there are a couple of teams that have improved,” Wilson said. “If our girls take care of business and do what we’re capable of then we should be in the driver’s seat tomorrow.”
Wilson did say that as a coach there is always nerves going into a championship meet, but having a veteran crew helps assuage those worries.
“The good thing about those kids is they’ve been in this type of situation before,” Wilson said. “It’s not as though you’re going into a big meet expecting a lot from kids who might be nervous or not really knowing how to handle themselves at this level. All of those kids have a track record of performing well at big meets.”
In addition to Waterville, the Erskine girls should fare well as the Eagles are strong in the relays and Jade Canak is the favorite to win the long jump.
Maranacook is coming off a second-place finish at the Capital City Classic, while Gardiner also had a solid showing there as well. The Maranacook boys should also compete, with Kelby Mace, Austin Taylor, Jason Stevenson and Nick Barnes leading the way. Gardiner’s Treavon Horton enters off wins in the 100 and 200 at the Capital City Classic.
As for the KVAC A title race, it promises to be a good one on the girls side.
Traditional powers Edward Little, Brunswick and Lewiston all figure to be tough, but don’t count against teams like Lawrence, Messalonskee, Skowhegan and Cony. Rather than a race to the finish, the meet figures to be more of a war of attrition — lending itself to the possibility of a team sneaking its way up the final standings on the heels of a few great performances.
“It’s going to be a fun meet,” Messalonskee coach Scott Wilson said. “There are a lot of teams separated by not a lot of points.”
The Eagles’ Taylor Lenentine and Kaitlin Eschenbrenner are the prohibitive favorites to win the pole vault and javelin, respectively, while Amanda Knight is a contender in the 100, 200 and 400. Lenentine is also a contender in the 100 and 300 hurdles, as well as the triple jump. Brianna Leonard enters the meet as the top seed in the long jump, and if Messalonskee can scrap out a few more points here and there, it could very well find itself at or near the top of the standings at the day’s end.
Lawrence and Skowhegan enter the meet in a similar spot to Messalonskee. Abby Weigang is a talented, multi-event athlete for the Bulldogs, while Alexis Chamberlain, Kiana Letourneau and Crystal Crowell are all capable of scoring their fair share of points as well. The combination of Andrea Gurney, Noah Stevens, Maddy Price and Jaycee Cushman will keep the Indians in the mix.
If you’re looking for a potential dark-horse type of team, look no further than Cony.
“If they all rise to the occasion, then we have a shot,” Rams’ coach Jon Millett said. “If they show up, they’ll do very well.”
The Rams won’t bring too many competitors to the meet, but the ones who will show have the potential to score points. Madeline Reny has a chance to do some major damage, while Sarah Smith, Courtney King and Allison LaPlante should do well also. Freshman Anne Guadalupi is seeded third in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
On the boys side, Lewiston is the definitive favorite but there should be a tight race for second between Mt. Blue, Edward Little, Brunswick and Messalonskee.
Josh Horne leads a healthy crop of Cougar distance runners, while Nate Pratt-Holt is strong in the long and triple jumps. Mt. Blue welcomed so many new athletes at the beginning of the season that it will be interesting to see just how far they’ve come.
As for Messalonskee, the Eagles can pretty much count on getting a good amount of points from Logan Moses, Owen Concaugh, Jesse and Soren Donisvitch, while throwers Damen Bickford and Jacob Doyon are seeded one-two in the shot put.
Individually, Skowhegan’s Mickenzie Ronco (pole vault) and Jacob Coombs (triple jump), Cony’s Matt Canwell (javelin), Nokomis’ Rusty Wilson (discus) and Lawrence’s Kyle Robinson (discus, shot put) could contend for titles.
Evan Crawley — 621-5640 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Evan_Crawley