After three years dominating the 800-meter run in the outdoor track and field season, Erskine Academy senior Kaylee Porter decided to finally give indoor track a try. It did not make a good first impression.

“She said at her first meet, ‘Coach, this is crazy,'” Erskine indoor track and field coach Scott Rollins said.

The air quality was bad, Porter said. Sand from the jumping pits seemed to clog up every breath she took. And there was the matter of laps. Running the 800 outdoors, Porter was used to two laps. Indoors, on the smaller track, her signature race was four laps.

“In my mind, when I do two laps, I’m done. Four laps is harder to focus,” Porter said. “It was a lot harder than outdoors.”

Porter didn’t let her early misgivings get the best of her, and by the end of the season, she was in the exact same place she’s found herself twice at the end of the outdoor season: At the top of the podium at the state championship meet.

Porter’s time of 2:20.14 won the Class B 800 state title, and was almost nine seconds better than runner-up Zoe Olson of Mt. Desert Island. Porter’s state time also was nearly a second better than the time run by Class A state champ Juliana Selser of South Portland. With a state title and a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference crown in the 800, Porter is the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal Girls Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Waterville’s Sarah Cox, who won the Class B shot put state championship, was also considered.

Past winters found Porter playing basketball, although last year she took the winter off recovering from a bruised liver suffered playing soccer the fall of her junior year. With a collegiate track and field career ahead of her at the University of Maine, Porter felt she needed to get a season of indoor competition. As has been the case in many of her outdoor 800 races, Porter was racing against herself more often than not.

“I don’t have anybody to pace with. It’s just me out there running,” Porter said.

“Every race this year, she really had no competition in the 800,” Rollins said. “She really was racing against the clock.”

Rollins thinks Porter could excel in any event she tries, but the 800 best suits her.

“It’s quite a hard race. She likes the toughness of it,” Rollins said.

Porter’s biggest challenge of the season came at the New England championships. With no 800 race at New Englands, Porter ran the 1,000. Her time of 2:59.57 earned Porter ninth place, and shaved three seconds off her seed time, Rollins said.

“Hardest race I’ve ever done in my life,” Porter said.

The added 200 meters were as much a mental obstacle as physical.

“The first two (laps) you’re happy, because you think this isn’t that hard. You forget it’s longer,” Porter said. “I was trying to stay with the pack and hope they carried me faster.”

Porter won state championships in the outdoor 800 as a freshman and sophomore. Last spring, she placed second when Mt. Desert Island’s Tia Tardy set a state record to win the title. Tardy graduated, making Porter the favorite in the event once again.

“I’m so excited for outdoor (season),” Porter said. “Our track team is a family. We love to train together. It’s my favorite time of the year.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM