Abby Mace was one of the top distance runners in the state during her time at Maranacook. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo

Editor’s note: This is the 20th installment of our new series, “Remember When,” in which we revisit some of the memorable games, events, streaks and runs in high school spring sports we’ve covered over the last few decades.

Abby Mace turned in plenty of memorable performances in her track and field career at Maranacook.

But of all her accomplishments, nothing surpassed what she did at the 2010 Class C track championships at Dover-Foxcroft, where she swept the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter titles.

And it was a feat achieved under interesting circumstances. The Class C championships had been postponed due to inclement weather, then rescheduled just days before the New England championships. The rescheduled meet — June 9, 2010 — fell on a Wednesday, right in the middle of a school week.

“I remember that year, we drove to the state meet, and we drove all the way up to Dover-Foxcroft,” Mace said. “Then the meet was canceled, due to weather. You get prepared for the certain day of the event, you’ve mentally prepared for this, and you just kind of want it to happen that day so you can get it over with. We drove all the way there, it was a two hour drive. Then we find out it was canceled, and you have to drive all the way back home. And then the (rescheduled meet) is going to be on a school day, which is really odd to have a school day and a state track meet on a school day, that was something I hadn’t experienced, I couldn’t focus on school that day.

“I had to re-mentally prepare myself,” Mace said. “But I was feeling pretty good about it. I remember the New England meet was only a couple of days after the state meet, now that it had been postponed, so I know I was a little hesitant to go all out in the 3,200, because that was the last event. I didn’t want to wear myself out too much before the New England meet that weekend.”

Mace, 26, had previously won the 1,600 and 3,200 titles her freshman year at the Class B championships. Maranacook dropped to Class C in 2010.

Entering the 2010 Class C championship, she was confident in her abilities to do well in both events.

“I think my main focus that year was on the 1,600, and that was the first event I ran,” Mace said. “I just wanted to make sure I got the best time that I could, because that was the event that year I was focusing on and to compete in for the New England championships.

Abby Mace of Maranacook leads a pack of runners in the first turn of the 1,600 -meter race at the 2012 Class C track and field state championship meet at Cony High School in Augusta. Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald file photo

“Sophomore year was just more about meeting expectations, versus surprising myself (freshman year) and exceeding expectations.”

“To me, she’s one of those once in a lifetime runners,” Maranacook track coach Ronn Gifford added. “I was just amazed watching her, she was just so efficient. You’d watch her at any track meet where there was a fence line along the back stretch, the home stretch, or whatever, and just watch her head and shoulders in relationship to that fence line, and there was virtually no vertical motion whatsoever. It was just straight-ahead, beautiful running. There’s no question from an early age coming up through (USA Track and Field) that she was going to be an outstanding runner.”

Mace won the 1,600 in 5:07.44, nearly 18 seconds faster than second-place finisher Gabby Naranja of Fort Kent. Her closest race was in the 3,200, which she finished in 12:00.42, edging Mt. Abram’s Sadie James by 3.47 seconds.

“That was the last event of the day,” Mace said. “I think my coach was telling me ‘Just run it to win it, it doesn’t matter what your time is.’ I think my time was not very fast, I think it was way off what it usually was, but I knew I was concentrating on the 1,600 for New Englands, and I was kind of tired at the end of the day. So I was just ‘OK, I’ll run the race to win.’ My teammate, Taylor Burr, was in that race with me, too. I was hoping she would have a good finish as well. I was almost more concerned with my teammate having a good finish than how I did.”

The surprise outcome for Mace may have been in the 800. She finished with a time of 2:21.69, beating second-place finisher Maggie Bryan of John Bapst by 5.31 seconds. Mace’s time was only 3.45 seconds away from a then-state record in the event.

“I was sort of surprised when I looked back and went through the records, that’s the only state meet where she ran the 800,” Gifford said. “She was a phenom, she was unbelievable.”

“I think the 800 was definitely the one I had the most competition in,” Mace said. “I think that was fairly close. I think I ran what was a (personal record) at the time, so that was a pretty good race for me. I didn’t know what to expect, I just got out there and it was good to run with some good competition, because the competition made the race more fun and go by faster. I think that was the race that I enjoyed the most that day. The 800 was never my event, so I think my expectations were lower in that event and I just went out there and tried the best I could on that day.”

Abby Mace, far left, celebrates with Maranacook teammates Hannah Clough, Sarah Wheelock and Taylor Burr after running the 4X400 relay at the 2010 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Championships at McMann Field in Bath. Contributed photo

Mace’s accomplishments were anything but a fluke. She would go on to have a clean sweep of titles in the 3,200 for the next two years — including a thrilling race in 2012 where Mace edged James by under a second. She won the 1,600 again in 2011, her junior year, and finished second to Washburn’s Camryn Koch in the event in 2012.

Mace — who would go on to win 14 individual state titles in cross-country, Nordic skiing and track during her time at Maranacook  — went on to have a Division I cross-country and track career at the University of Connecticut. Now living in West Hartford, Connecticut and working in digital communications for Pratt & Whitney, Mace said she has great fondness for her high school career and her success, but wishes she didn’t put as much pressure on herself as she did.

“I honestly wish that I had a little bit different mentality and approach to sports in high school,” Mace said. “I definitely put way too much pressure on myself. I was too uptight and always wanted to win. Being competitive is great, and you need that competitiveness to really have that drive to push yourself and to do well. But I worked myself up to a point where I couldn’t compete. I took myself out of the race with a bad mental mindset and nerves before I even had started the race. I definitely wish I had been more open to competition, not as scared to lose.”

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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