Coach Jarod Richmond and the Hall-Dale track and field team had to say goodbye after last year to Jon Whitcomb, one of the state’s best high jumpers.

As it turns out, the Bulldogs just had another standout waiting in the wings.

Star high jumpers are nothing new at Hall-Dale, and with Ashtyn Abbott, the Bulldogs appear to have another. The junior reached a personal milestone in a home meet Tuesday when he cleared 6 feet with a jump, a height only two people cleared at the Mountain Valley Championships last year.

“It’s a benchmark for a lot of athletes,” Richmond said. “It’s kind of like that glass ceiling in high jump. Once you get to 6 feet, it takes forever to do it, but once you do it, it kind of happens more often than not. It’s a good step forward for him. There are not a whole lot of 6-foot high jumpers in the MVC.”

Abbott was third in the MVCs last year with a jump of 5-8. One of the athletes in front of him was Whitcomb, who dazzled with a 6-4 leap. Richmond said the two were in similar positions by their junior years.

“It took Jon a while. I think he got 6 feet at the end of his sophomore year, beginning of his junior year,” he said. “So Ashtyn’s along the same timetable as Jon was.”

The next step for Abbott going into this season became the 6-foot mark, which he set in his sights on Tuesday. His first few jumps fell short, but he finally cleared the bar with room to spare.

“He’s worked really hard at it,” Richmond said. “He really takes a lot of pride in it. I’m very proud of him to reach that mark.”

The story’s not over. Abbott’s mark puts him in the mix for an MVC title along with Boothbay’s Jay Hasch (who was second last year, and first in the meet on Tuesday), and Richmond said the junior is motivated to push his own bar even further.

“It’s kind of motivated him a lot more here this week in practice,” he said. “He really wants 6-2 very badly. I think he can get it here by the end of the season, no problem.”

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Erskine coach David Currier said Jack Jowett entered this season motivated after finding success at last year’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships.

“He got a taste last year,” Currier said of the junior, who placed second in the javelin in the conference meet before finishing third in the state meet. “He totally came in with championships in mind for that event.”

This year, Jowett is looking like he could make the jump from contender to champion. He dominated in Erskine’s first meet at MCI’s Husky Throwdown, winning the javelin with a throw of 154 feet — two-and-a-half feet further than his KVAC’s throw last spring, and more than 16 feet clear of the competition at MCI.

“He’s having an excellent year so far,” Currier said. “He had one throw of 155 last year, but this year, that has been consistent for him so far, which is pretty excellent.”

Currier said Jowett, who also competes in the 100-meter dash and high jump and is a decathlete through USA Track and Field, has surprised him with how quickly he’s found his midseason form.

“You expect the first time out for the year, you’ll see how it goes,” he said. “This is where we left off last year, and we’re immediately right back there.”

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Madison/Carrabec coach Tobin Curtis has been able to get a pretty good idea of where his team could score points come the MVC championships in May.

The boys team dominated the track events at a Tuesday meet in Wiscasset, winning everything from the 100-meter dash to the 3,200-meter (or 2-mile) run. Darrin Libby won twice, taking the 100 and 200, as did Jack Babin, who took the 1,600 and the 3,200. Reid Campbell (400) and Nathan McGray (800) completed the sweep.

Only four teams were at the meet, so it’d be a reach to expect the finishes to translate at the MVCs, but Curtis said the performance said plenty about the team’s depth on the track.

“We have a couple of very fast, athletic kids that have stepped into doing more than just one or two events,” he said. “My hope is that they’ll maintain that, at least be in the top three of every race. That’s points that we can score, I think we definitely have enough kids that can do that. They may not win each time, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be in the top three placements.”

Optimism is high for Curtis and his team. Madison combined with Carrabec for this season, giving him the largest roster he’s had — and a better-than-ever shot of competing as a team at the MVCs.

“It’s nice to feel like we have a legitimate shot as a team,” Curtis said. “Hopefully we can turn it on and keep it going for the next couple of years.”

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While the Winslow boys had to lose some vital cogs from last year’s state championship team, the girls are benefitting from some freshman arrivals.

Carly Warn and Denali Norris came in with expectations of contributing to the Black Raiders’ success, and they’ve met them so far, with both winning events at Winslow’s first meet on April 12. Warn, a speedster, took the triple jump at 33-1.25 while also placing third in the 100 and second in the 200. Norris, a star during indoor track, finished first in the 400 at 1:09.63 while also grabbing top-five finishes in the 200 (fourth) and 100 hurdles (fifth).

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM