Cony coach Jon Millett likes his team’s chances to repeat as Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference champions. Furthermore, he says his Rams could go even further.

“They should be contenders for the state (Class B) meet,” he said. “Last year we were an athlete short of winning the state meet. I think we’ve got what we need.”

The Rams return all their scorers from last year’s state meet, led by senior Gabby Low, who won the javelin at states last spring. Sophomore twin sisters Anna and Julia Reny also will be big-meet threats. Anna placed third in both hurdle events and the 200-meters at the state meet while Julia finished sixth in the 400 and javelin. Both also compete on the team’s successful 4×400 relay team that returns intact.

Maranacook runners get a workout in during a preseason practice in Readfield. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Senior Talia Jorgensen, who competes in throws and middle distances, returns to the team, adding depth along with some talented freshmen.

Lawrence has 33 girls on its squad, including senior Payton Goodwin, the defending state champ in the long jump and the KVAC indoor 800 champ. She leads a returning group of nine seniors and a half dozen juniors and sophomore who all gained valuable experience a year ago.

“We have 33 girls spread over several events,” coach Tim Alberts said. “I assume we’ll be in the running for the top three (at the KVACs).”

Winslow brings back several competitors from a team that finished third at the KVAC B meet, including sophomore distance runner Olivia Tiner and senior thrower Weslee Littlefield. Coach Ken Nadeau likes the addition of sophomore Bodhi Littlefield, whom he believes will sharpen the team’s competitive edge.

Juniors Julia Hatch and Kahryn Cullenberg lead a strong returning group at Mt. Blue. Hatch is the defending state champ in the racewalk while Cullenberg placed in the 800 and 1,600 meter races. Depth could be a problem for the Cougars but coach Kelley Cullenberg said, “we do have a lot of talented athletes.”

Maine Central Institute finished fifth at the KVAC indoor meet and expects to be competitive during the outdoor season. Senior Christa Carr, who finished second in the shot put at the state meet, is poised for a big year, said coach Jason Allen.

First-year Waterville coach Katie Souviney has a two-time defending state champ returning in senior Sarah Cox, who won the shot put and discus at the Class B outdoor meet last season. She’s banking on Cox and a couple of other returning seniors to lead an otherwise young team.

Senior Jayde Whitten and junior Emily Eastmen lead a young Nokomis team while Mount View is young, with just one returning senior in Shala Davis.

Erskine’s Sophie Taylor qualified in four events at last year’s state meet and leads a young group for the Eagles. At Gardiner, enthusiasm continues to grow with 62 athletes now out for the boys and girls teams.

“I think we’re going to give some competition to some teams,” coach Jen Boudreau said.

 

CLASS C

Maranacook gave Cony a strong run at the KVAC championships a year ago and then went on to capture the Class C state title. The Black Bears graduated some outstanding athletes from that team but coach Ronn Gifford says they have enough coming back to contend again.

“This year’s team should be right back in the thick of things when championship season comes around,” he said.

Senior captains Lily Welch and Grace Despres are standout athletes. So is junior Molly McGrail, who won the 800 at last year’s state meet, finished second in the 400 and third in the 200. Relay teams will also contribute a team that is traditionally strong.

Monmouth is another traditionally strong team coming off a good year, having won its conference championship before finishing third at the state meet. But the Mustangs did get hit with some key graduation losses.

“We’ve got a lot of points to replace but we’ve got decent number,” coach Tom Menendez said. “We’re hoping they can maintain where they were last year.”

Mata Sirois, Audrey Fletcher, Libby Clement, Chloe Dwinell and Jocelyn Clement are among of number of returning athletes who competed well at the state meet last year. Menendez is also hoping for the return of talented senior thrower Destiny Clough, who is recovering from knee surgery.

The goal for many of the other central Maine teams is to be competitive in the conference meet. Hall-Dale, Madison, Richmond, Carrabec and Mt. Abram don’t have the depth to compete for a title but there are quality individuals on those squads. The same holds true for Winthrop, which has just seven girls on the team this season.

“Our goal is to try to them qualified for the MVCs and to build the program up a little but,” said Carrabec coach Skip Rugh.

 

CLASS A

Excitement was palpable at Messalonskee the first day the team got out on its new track this spring. Coach Matt Holman said his athletes barely paid attention to their practice routine as it soaked in the new facility. There’s some returning talent from a team that finished second at the KVAC A championships last year. The team also won the KVAC indoor title despite having just one individual winner.

“We’re going to compete, no question about it,” Holman said.

Emma Wentworth, Megan Quirion, Peyton Arbour, Alexa Brennan and Charlotte Wentworth are all proven competitors who should make the Eagles a contender this season.

Skowhegan finished sixth at the KVACs a year ago and brings back a half dozen athletes who had a hand in that finish.

“We should be improved,” coach Dave Evans said. “We’ve got some athletic girls.”


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