BATH — Ken Nadeau remembers when a high finish at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships were nothing more than a pipe dream for the Winslow track and field team. When the Black Raiders had 13 athletes in the whole program, and any chance for team accomplishments were dead before they even began.

So the Winslow coach could appreciate the capping of the turnaround Saturday at McMann Field in Bath, where the Black Raiders boys team rode three victories by Ben Smith to 137 points and a KVAC Class B title over Lincoln (84) in dominant fashion. Belfast (56) was third, followed by Medomak Valley (44.5) and Camden Hills (44). Leavitt (82.33) won the girls B title over Lawrence (72.5), Belfast (67), Camden Hills (65) and Waterville (63).

“I think it’s good for our school, it’s good for our program,” said Nadeau, whose roster is up to 48 this season. “At this point in time, considering where we were four years ago, just barely surviving, it’s kind of unbelievable to see us now.”

In Class A, Messalonskee nearly pulled off a sweep, with the boys team getting a pair of wins from Tanner Burton and Cam Bickford en route to 133.5 points and first place ahead of Lewiston (106.5), Cony (89), Edward Little (87) and Oxford Hills (79).

“We came here today and we did what we had to do,” Eagles coach Matt Holman said. “It’s been a strange year, weather-wise, meet-wise. … Both boys and girls wanted the title. That was, from Day 1, they wanted to win the conference championship as a team. We busted our butt trying to get ourselves in position to do that.”

Led by a pair of wins from Avery Brennan, the Messalonskee girls team appeared to tie Edward Little for the title at 132.5, with Brennan even anchoring a victorious 4×400 team at the end of the meet to apparently secure the draw. But a review of the 100-meter hurdles race gave Edward Little an extra half-point, putting the Red Eddies (133) in front and the two ahead of Lewiston (97), Mt. Ararat (67) and Brunswick (56.5).


“The girls work their butts off all the time. Always trying to get better, always looking to find their place in the team,” Holman said. “They’re all friends, they’re all close and they all work really well with each other.”

Winslow’s biggest spark came from an asset that wasn’t even on the team last season. Smith, an indoor star but doing outdoor this season with plans to compete at Colby College, was dominant, winning the 100 (11.28), 200 (22.78) and 400 (51.11) and then turning in a blistering final lap en route to first in the 4×400 relay, a lap that served as an exclamation mark for the afternoon.

“It just feels good to come out here and get those 30 points, get those three (individual) wins,” said Smith, a newcomer along with Spencer Miranda (fourth long jump, fourth triple jump) and Nathan Gagnon (fourth javelin). “We came over here to give it a chance, thought it’d be some fun, and to come out and put up the points we’ve been putting up, it’s great.”

“Ben Smith, you can’t say enough good things about how he performed today,” Nadeau said. “He basically scored 32 and a half points for us today. He is everything that people read about.”

Winslow also got wins from Jamie Sears (1,600 race walk, 8:19), Jake Warn (triple jump, 42-0.5) and Max Spaulding (300 hurdles, 42.17). Warn also finished runner-up to Smith in both the 100 and 200, and Spaulding took fourth in the 200 and 110 hurdles.

“I kind of knew where we’d be overall,” Nadeau said. “We raced Messalonskee this season and we were right in the mix with some of the other Class A schools. I kind of knew what to expect overall, but the kids still have to run them. They have to put down the times.”


Messalonskee was led on the boys side by Burton, who was first in the 110 hurdles (14.77) and 200 (23.27), and Bickford, who won the discus (141-11) and the shot put (45-10). The Eagles also got first-place finishes from Owen Concaugh in the 1,600 at 4:34.13 and Zach Hoyle in the 800 at 2:01.18.

Burton’s hurdles win gave him his third straight KVAC title, but the 200 was new ground for the senior in the conference meet, and Burton had to edge out Lewiston’s Ethan Solis and Oxford Hills’s Dawson Stevens at the end, beating the two by .04 and .06 seconds, respectively.

“Coming into that race, it was really thinking about and focusing on being gritty and not really giving in when it got tough,” he said. “Coming through the last 100, I got to about 50 meters and there were two guys right next to me. I could have given up, I could have slowed down, but I leaned through and got the win.”

Bickford pointed out that the cooler temperatures helped him prevail through a long day in the field.

“Last year it was 100 degrees out, scorching hot. … I think conditions really affected how I did today,” said the senior, who repeated as the champion in both events and set a discus personal best by seven feet. “When you’re sitting there all day, waiting for an event, being cooler the whole time is a lot better than being scorching hot. It’s a lot easier to sustain energy than during a hot day.”

Brennan paced Messalonskee with wins in both the 800 (2:28.98) and the 1,600 (5:30.14), edging out Cony’s Anne Guadalupi by just over a second in the latter event. Her wins helped the Eagles keep pace with Edward Little in the hunt for their first KVAC title, which she said was a motivating factor entering the meet.


“I had the team first in my mind. Every point I get counts,” Brennan said. “We did the virtual meet and saw that we really could win this for the first time in Messalonskee history. … To see that we actually had a chance of winning this year, every lap, that was the first thing on my mind.”

Messalonskee also got a first-place finish from Emma Wentworth, who won the 100 at 13.26 seconds, and the 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800 relays were all victorious.

Leah Savage of Skowhegan was a double-winner in the girls A meet, taking first in the high jump (4-10) and triple jump (34-10.25), while Cony’s Eli Dutil was a winner in the boys meet in the high jump at 5-10.

“As far as the triple goes, I haven’t been having a good season at all. … I’ve had Maddy Price with me every single other year, and obviously she was amazing. I think just having her out of the picture this year (meant) I didn’t have someone pushing me,” Savage said, referring to the event champion from last year. “And when I come to the big meets I tend to do a lot better, just because of the pressure. I love pressure, I do so much better.”

Waterville had a pair of double-winners, getting victories on the girls side from Sarah Cox in the shot put (36-2) and discus (114-3). Zack Smith gave the Purple Panthers wins in the discus (144-1) and javelin (154-4).

“It’s a great feeling, but I can’t say it hasn’t been without hard work. Every day, step by step … you’ve got to love the sport,” Cox said. “When you have a good throw, it feels like you didn’t do anything. It feels so easy, you feel like it’s going two feet when it’s going 37.”


Other local B winners on the boys side included MCI’s Harrison Wang (110 hurdles, 16.34), Maranacook’s William Green (pole vault, 13-6) and the Mount View 4×100 team. Local winners in the B girls meet were Maranacook’s Laura Ireland (110 hurdles, 17.21) and Ashley Cray (high jump, 4-10) and Erskine’s Kaylee Porter (800, 2:25). In the wheelchair events, Gardiner’s R.J. Sullivan took first in the 100, 400 and shot put in B while Cony’s Matt MacGregor won the 100, 400, shot put and discus in the A meet.

A scary event took place early in the afternoon when Lawrence’s Alex Roy collapsed after running the 400. Roy, whom coach Tim Alberts said runs with a heart condition and gets cleared to compete, was attended to by medical staff before leaving for the hospital on a stretcher, a move Alberts called a precaution.

“This has been year three, maybe, where he’s had episodes like this,” said Alberts, who added that Roy was briefly unresponsive before becoming alert after a few seconds. “His heart races, and then he comes down. … It’s one of those things where everybody gets nervous, like ‘What’s going on?’ Luckily for me, it’s happened a few times that I’m not as nervous. I don’t like it, don’t get me wrong.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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