The message from Waterville Senior High School outdoor track coach Ian Wilson was pretty clear after the Purple Panther boys and girls won their ninth consecutive Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championships Saturday in Bath.

“We’ve got to do better than we did this week. I thought the team that probably had about the best performance was Belfast. I thought they were really tough today,” Wilson said. “We left a lot of points unscored that were there for the taking and we have to do a better job of that next week because you don’t get away with that at states. We were lucky to get away with that today, but we can’t get away with that two weeks in a row.”

On Thursday Wilson said his team had gotten the message, particularly the boys squad.

“The team knew it,” Wilson said. “The boys knew we were not really sharp. We certainly performed well enough but we have pretty high expectations.”

Waterville enters as the defending boys and girls state champs in Class B heading into Saturday’s meet in Brewer, but defending the crowns won’t be easy.

The Panther boys held off Belfast by 30 points to claim the KVAC title, but will once again see the Lions — as well as Ellsworth, Old Town, York and Grey — at states. Jordhan Levine, Trever Gray and Troy Gurski — who is nursing a foot injury after catching his foot wrong on a hurdle in warm-ups at KVACs — will have to have big days to keep Waterville on top.

“He was a little sore in the foot,” Wilson said. “We did just enough to keep any rust from settling in and I think he’ll be just fine.”

On the girls’ side, the Panthers roared to the KVAC title and are in good shape to win their eighth straight state championship with competitors like Sarah Shoulta, Kellie Bolduc and Rachel Bergeron leading the way.

“If we perform well, we have an excellent chance of winning,” Wilson said of his teams’ chances, “but meets aren’t won on paper so there are a couple of other teams with chances to win too.”

Erskine’s Jade Canak will be looking to close out her career on a high note, and is seeded third in the 100 hurdles, second in the long jump, third in the triple jump and second in the 4×100 relay along with freshmen Jordan Jowett, Abby Haskell and junior Christina Belanger.

Winslow’s Audrey Jones is the top seed in the race walk, while Autumn Poulin and Bethany Winkin are top five seeds in the javelin and 800, respectively.

• • •

At the Class A meet in Windham, it could be a special day for Cony junior Madeline Reny.

“She’s had a good week of practice and she looks really good,” Cony coach Jon Millett said. “She is very competitive and does not like to lose. Any pressure that is there is internal. That’s what the good competitors do, they internalize it and they do their talking on the playing field or the track. She’s very humble.”

Reny is seeded second in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4×100 relay along with teammates Sarah Smith, Courtney King and Alison Laplante.

Skowhegan’s standout sprinters Madeline Price and Jaycee Cushman are the top two seeds in the 100, while teammate Noah Stevens is seeded fourth in the triple jump and second in the pole vault to Messalonskee’s Taylor Lenentine.

Lenentine is not the only Eagle favored for a title though, as Kaitlin Eschenbrenner is the top seed in the javelin and Amanda Knight is seeded second in the 400 and third in the 200.

Lawrence’s Alexis Chamberlain is the No. 2 seed in the 200, while teammates Sydney Emery and Abby Weigang will also be athletes to keep an eye on. Emery is seeded fourth in the discus just behind Skowhegan’s Andrea Gurney.

On the boys’ side, Messalonskee’s Jesse Donsivitch is ranked second in the 100, while Mt. Blue’s Nate Pratt-Holt and Josh Horne are seeded third and fourth in the triple jump and 3,200, respectively.

Skowhegan’s Mickenzy Ronco is seeded fourth in the pole vault, while Messalonskee’s Damen Bickford ranks fifth in the shot put.

• • •

In the Class C meet at Foxcroft Academy, Madison’s Ron Helderman will be looking to build on his 4-for-4 performance at the Mountain Valley Championships in which he won the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, high jump and pole vault.

“We’ve been calling him the Michael Phelps of Madison,” Bulldog coach Tobin Curtis said with a chuckle. “…He’s been looking good these last two weeks and he’s excited to see what he can do.”

The pole vault will be particularly interesting for Helderman. Last week at MVCs he set a new meet and school record of 13-feet, 1/2-inch and Curtis said in practice Thursday Helderman cleared 13-6.

As for the boys’ team race, Lisbon figures to be the favorite, yet local teams Maranacook and Monmouth should be in store for strong performances.

The two will begin the day by squaring off in the 4×800 in what promises to be an exciting race. The two teams’ seed times are separated by just 12 hundredths of a second.

“Right now I’m going to run the same guys in that 4×8,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “They’re primed and they’re ready to do it.”

Last week, injuries forced the Mustangs to shuffle their lineup in the event, and the team of Dylan Thombs, Luke Thombs, Stewart Buzzell and Marcques Houston went on to set a 12-second personal best time in the event.

Houston will not be done with the 4×800 though, as he is also seeded first in the 400 and fourth in the 200.

“He’s a big-time performer so when he gets in there with any kind of competition, he’s going to give it 100 percent,” Menendez said. “He’s going to give it the best he can.”

For Maranacook, Nick Barnes, Austin Landry and Kelby Mace have each posted top seeds in their respective events and should be the Black Bears’ top scorers.

Curtis McLeod, River Massey, Shane and Eric Hathaway will score their fair share of points for Maine Central Institute, while Hall-Dale valedictorian Steven Longfellow is seeded second in the triple jump.

Oak Hill’s Derek Gamage is seeded third in the high jump, fourth in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump, while Drew Gamage is ranked fourth in the high jump.

On the girls’ side, most of the top local finishes should come in the field events.

Maranacook’s Jolene Potter will have a chance at winning the pole vault, while Sydney Green is seeded fourth in the high jump sandwiched between MCI’s Megan Noble and Chimene Goewey.

The Huskies’ Katie Hughes is seeded third in both the shot put and discus, while Carabec’s trio of throws — Emma Pluntke (shot), Macy Welch (javelin) and Shen Black (discus) — are each seeded in the top five in their respective events. Winthrop’s Rachel Ingram should also be an athlete to watch.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley


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