SKOWHEGAN — It takes a certain degree of adventurousness to launch oneself more than 10 feet in the air using only one’s momentum and a pole.

For athletes like Messalonskee’s Taylor Lenentine and Skowhegan’s Noah Stevens, though, it is an instance of applying previous training to a different discipline.

“I used to be a gymnast and when I quit gymnastics I decided to try track,” Lenentine explained. “One of the events was pole vault. I started trying it and pole vault was kind of like gymnastics.”

Both Lenentine and Stevens have successfully translated gymnastics skills into standout track and field careers in the pole vault. Last spring Stevens won the Class A outdoor championship in the event after clearing 10 feet. Lenentine, the defending Class A indoor champion, cleared 11-3 in a meet last Thursday and has gone as high as 11-6 in practice.

The two will help lead their respective teams in the 11th annual Community Cup on Thursday at Skowhegan Area High School.

The success of the two seniors hardly comes as a surprise to Skowhegan track coach Dave Evans.


“Many of the same body movements, body positions in pole vault obviously fit in well with gymnastics — especially for kids like Taylor, Noah Stevens, (Messalonskee senior) Lucy (Guarnieri) and (Waterville graduate) Georgia Bolduc,” Evans said. “When they did it they were very accomplished gymnasts. They already had a pretty good idea of body awareness and also that spatial awareness, being in the air and knowing where you’re at, which is very, very, crucial to that.”

In 1991 Evans and ex-wife Carol Brewer-Hamilton started Decal Gymnastics, which has since expanded to a number of locations, including in Waterville and Skowhegan. Evans’ three daughters — Delani, Carlee and Alexis — are all former gymnasts in their own right who are still involved with the sport in one way or another.

Through his experience, Evans has found over the years that athletes who have experience in gymnastics have naturally taken to events like the pole vault, high jump, long jump and triple jump.

“The neat thing about it is in the sport of gymnastics, as well as track, everything is a series of progression,” Evans said. “As you take one step, you develop it and the next kid’s step you go at it with a little bit more aggressiveness when you feel pretty confident in the first step. That’s one of the things that I see translate over with the sport.

“What helps the gymnasts is they already know some of those steps. They’ve been upside down in the air, they’ve got toes to the ceiling, they’ve got chin down to the chest and they have that kinetic awareness that other kids really have to develop.”

Those baseline skills, according to Evans, also help gymnasts pick up events quicker. Guarnieri, who is in her first year competing in track at Messalonskee, is a good example of that.


This spring she has been one of the Eagle’s more consistent points scorers and boasts top marks of 34-10 1/4 in the triple jump, 16-4 1/2 in long jump, 9-0 in pole vault and 4-8 in high jump.

Guarnieri and Lenentine will be just a few of a number of former gymnasts — and even more who were not — who will take to the track Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the annual Community Cup held this year at Skowhegan Area High School.

The Eagles, Indians — who may be without Stevens as she continues to recover from a hip flexor injury — Lawrence and Winslow will all look to knock off Waterville, which has swept all 10 Community Cup events since its inception.

Last season’s point differential was noticeably closer than it has been in the past, and Thursday’s meet has the potential to be even closer than that.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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