Maranacook boys track and field coach Ronn Gifford said it would take some time to settle a largely turned-over roster from a team that won the Class C state title last season.

With big end-of-the-season meets quickly approaching, the question still lingers: Can the Black Bears defend their title?

“I think we’ll be a team to be reckoned with,” Gifford said. “We have the talent but we still are trying to find spots for the new kids who are out. Our relay teams have been hit or miss, and we still have kids who are learning how to pace themselves.”

Senior Taylor Watson, one of the top hurdlers in Class C, leads the Black Bears. He’s had a strong start to the season in the hurdles and a few of the relays.

Several newcomers, including Colby Watts and James Boyman, are starting to make an impact. They are providing a few relay teams a boost in recent meets.

“We’ve been plugging away,” Gifford said. “Each meet we grow. Every meet is an opportunity for new experiences, new growth. There’s no question the team is starting to round into shape. With so many kids, we’re working our way. We’re still gaining.”

Maranacook will host a meet Thursday that will bring Class A programs Edward Little, Cony and Messalonskee to Readfield.

* * *

Hall-Dale coach Jarod Richmond wanted to “make it a point” to schedule a few difficult meets at the close of the regular season.

The Bulldogs begin that stretch this week, beginning with a seven-team meet at Gardiner on Thursday that includes Class A teams Lewiston and Brunswick.

“This will be a measuring stick for us,” Richmond said. “This will be the biggest meet we’ve had so far this season. It’s a good way to get ready for the Cony meet.”

Cony’s annual meet under the lights, which attracts hundreds of athletes is scheduled for May 18.

The Hall-Dale boys hope to contend for a Mountain Valley Conference title this season.

Tyler Fitzgerald (sprints), Josh Ringer (distance) and Steve Hubert (110 hurdles) are coming off strong performances in their respective events. Steven Longfellow is also enjoying a strong spring. He won the long and triple jumps at the meet last week, setting a personal record in the latter with a leap of 37 feet, 11.75 inches.

“He just keeps adding distance,” Richmond said. “We have enough pieces in place right now. It’s going to be a competitive conference meet. Maybe we can make a run at it.”

Senior Bri Crisci ran the 400 for the first time this season for the girls team, and won the event in 1:03.21. Richmond said she was close to breaking a school record. Crisci also won the 100 and 200.

“She’s having a great year,” Richmond said.

* * *

The Monmouth girls have enjoyed quite a resurgence this season.

The Mustangs have won consecutive meets after failing to win one in the last seven years.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “It was exciting the first time we won one and then we did it again. We said, ‘OK, it’s not a fluke.’ “

The Mustangs prevailed in a five-team meet at Hall-Dale last Thursday, scoring 114 points. Boothbay was second with 105.

Molly Menice won the javelin with a throw of 89-3. Also, the Mustangs 4×800 team of Hannah Kerrigan, Carey Knowles, Ashley Hartford and Emily Szotkowski won witha time of 11:57.04.

* * *

The running joke among the Messalonskee track and field team is that it is undefeated at home. The Eagles have taken that on as their motto, making T-shirts with the slogan on them.

The Eagles make do without a track and field facility at the school. The high jumpers practice in the gym, the runners work on a dirt track and the throwers practice on the lacrosse field. The pole vaulters have to hit the road to get work in.

“We’ve been going up to Lawrence,” Messalonskee coach Scott Wilson said. “Thank goodness they offered, which was really nice. It does help. We don’t have a facility, so that helps. We took five (pole) vaulters up there (Monday) then we went back to Messalonskee to get some work in there. It was great.”

The way athletes have performed this season, meanwhile, is anything but a joke. The Eagles are opening a few eyes in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

Amanda Knight (200, 400), Megan Pelletier (high jump, javelin), Kaitlin Eschenbrenner (javelin), Andrea Eschenbrenner (shot put, discus, javelin) lead deep and talented girls team that is holding its own against stiff competition.

Harlow Ladd (distance), Elijah Steele (high jump), Zach Sutherland (jumps) and Cody Lachance (throws) lead the boys team.

“We’re doing well,” Wilson said. “It’s funny because when we practice we are scattered all over place. We just try to make do. We improvise a lot, but it’s making the kids get stronger, better. We’re hanging in there.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]


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