WATERVILLE — To understand how deep the Messalonskee High School boys indoor track and field team is in the middle distance and distance events, it’s easiest to look at what the Eagles don’t have. They don’t have senior Owen Concaugh, the defending outdoor state champion in the 800 meters, out recovering from a broken leg suffered in the soccer season. Still, with Dan Turner, Zach Hoyle and Dylan Gagne, among others, the Eagles have the depth in those events to pile up some points at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Not to be undone, the girls team is also loaded in the 800, mile, and two mile. Athletes including Avery Brennan, Haley Lowell, Peyton Arbour, Alexa Brennan, and Emma Concaugh have potential to rack up points for the Eagles.

“I think they’re ready. I know they’re going to run well,” Messalonskee coach Matt Holman said.

Messalonskee’s middle distance and distance teams are among the favorites at the KVAC championship. The Messalonskee boys are going for their second straight conference title, while the girls are competing for their first conference crown.

Holman and assistant coach Vanessa Letourneau know a little something about middle distance and distance running. Both competed for the University of Maine track team. Letourneau holds the school record in the 1,000 meters indoors, while Holman holds the Black Bears record in the outdoor 400 hurdles. Last year, the new coaches came aboard with the Messalonskee program.

“This year is really about taking what we learned last year and making it better,” Avery Brennan said.

Brennan, Lowell,and Concaugh have the potential of going one, two, three in the 800, Holman said, with each running under 2:34 this season.

“That’s going to be our best event,” Holman said.

The girls middle distance team is a close-knit group, Holman said, and a group that’s just scratching its potential.

“I’m the only senior. Haley (Lowell) is the only junior. We have a lot of people coming up,” Brennan said.

“They started putting everything together with team dynamics early in the year and it hit us, they could be really good,” Holman added. “They just have a great chemistry. They’re excited for each other when PR’s (personal records) are hit. That unity, that closeness, is really special.”

For the boys, Hoyle has turned in the best time in state this season in the 800 in Class A (1:58.64) and also is a favorite in the mile. Turner is also a KVAC contender in the 800. Turner said the success of Messalonskee middle and distance runners began with the example of recent graduates like Harlow Ladd, who went on to run at Purdue.

“Working out with this team is almost as important as racing,” Turner said.

“Zach and Dan are really talented. They push each other, in meets, in practice, everywhere,” Concaugh added.

The loss of Concaugh was significant, but didn’t remove the Eagles from the list of conference title contenders. Concaugh watched practice at Colby College on Wednesday night and reflected on the one race he did run this season, the previous Saturday. Concaugh placed second in the 800 to Turner, running in 2:10, but didn’t feel good.

“The first lap hurt really bad, then I kind of settled in. I was told I was limping the whole time,” Concaugh said, adding he’ll soon have surgery to have screws and plates removed from his healed leg to prepare for the outdoor season.

“It’s never easy when you lose somebody like Owen, but it’s been a real consistent group,” Holman said. “This is a group of guys that’s been doing sports together since they were kids. They’ve been pushing each other since middle school.”

With strong athletes in events across the board, the Eagles should contend for boys and girls titles. Holman knows there’s points to be had. How many exactly, he won’t say.

“I’ll take as many as I can get,” Holman said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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