THORNDIKE — For Betsy Hunt, the road to becoming one of the top high jumpers in the state has been a long process. For Shala Davis, the process has been about trying to match her athletic skill sets with the best events. With the outdoor track and field season about to begin, the Mount View High School duo have a chance to lead the Mustangs to success not seen in a long time by the girls team.

“With all the potential we have, and if everyone keeps working towards it, I believe we can do great at states this year,” Hunt, a senior, said.

The Maine Principals’ Association’s new two-year alignment has Mount View now in Class C. Last winter, Hunt placed second in the Class B state indoor championship and won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title in the high jump. Last spring, Hunt placed fourth at the Class B outdoor championship in the high jump. Davis, a junior, placed fourth in the discus at states last spring.

Hunt discovered the high jump was her signature event in junior high, when coach David Page suggested she give it a try.

“It turned out pretty well. I just kept working at it, and eventually made it my main event,” Hunt said.

“Betsy’s always had a lot of talent, even when I was watching her in middle school when she was coming up. She had the potential and the talent to be able to do it well,” Mount View track and field coach Kevin Petrak said. “It was more fostering the mental capacity there, and getting her ready for bigger meets so she can hopefully be state champion.”

Hunt said it was in her sophomore season she began to take the high jump more seriously. Davis was a sophomore last season when she gave the discus a try, and she liked the event immediately. Blessed with natural strength, the trick for Davis is in nailing down the spin to add distance to her throws.

“The spinning is pretty difficult. I keep hopping. Instead of just taking a step, I jump in the middle,” Davis said.

“She’s just got a lot of athleticism, and she can really hone those skills. She’s a real strong girl, so she’s capable in a lot of different things,” Petrak said of Davis. “She came out last year and said ‘I want to throw.’ OK, try it, and she was throwing really far.”

As a freshman, Davis qualified for the state meet in the 100 hurdles.

“I was like, OK. I’ve got a hurdler for the next four year,'” Petrak said.

There was one problem with that plan.

“She hates the hurdles,” Petrak said.

Davis does enjoy throwing the discus, however. This season, she might give the javelin a try, along with the long jump and 800. In a meet late last season at Cony High School in Augusta, Davis tried the javelin and threw 68 feet, good for fourth place in the five-team meet. At the state meet last June, Davis threw the discus 98 feet. A number she has in mind for the discus this season is 113 feet, the Mount View school record.

“That’s what I want to beat,” Davis said. “I have fun doing it. It comes easy to me.”

Hunt focuses on the high jump, and also could take part in the 4×100 relay for the Mustangs. Her jump is always a work in progress, Hunt said, but studying the technical aspects of the event with coach Gloria Hewett has improved Hunt’s jumps, particularly her approaches.

“(Hewett) has this app where you can slo mo each jump. You can break it down into sections,” Hunt said.

Hunt jumped 5-feet at the state Class B indoor championships to finish second to Greely’s Elizabeth Brown. At the KVAC meet at Bowdoin College on Feb. 10, Hunt jumped 4-10 to edge Lincoln Academy’s Olivia Richmond, who has become a friendly rival to Hunt.

“We both are equal. (Richmond) and I, when we’re competing, we’re like, we both got this. Complimenting each other. When I got the winning height, I was so excited. Then I was cheering her on. I wanted her to jump it,” Hunt said.

During the indoor season — Hunt’s first — she practiced actual jumping just once, focusing her workouts on strength and her mental approach.

“I kind of thrive off my competition. If they do better, I want to go above what they did,” Hunt said.

Added Petrak: “All of her high jump practice was at meets. She just had to prepare herself physically and mentally and it came together for her.”

Petrak said he can’t point to a single meet or event that was the catalyst for Hunt’s improvement. It came with age and experience, he said.

“It’s not an a-ha moment. As they get older, all of a sudden they’re taking leadership roles and really coming into their own. That’s the fun thing about working with high schoolers,” Petrak said.

Like Davis, Hunt would like to break the school record this season. Mount View’s girls high jump record is 5-3.

“I don’t want to match it. I want to get 5-4,” Hunt said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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