It was a season that was nearly perfect.

Central Maine teams and athletes were able to once again compete for conference and state championships after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered high school sports in spring 2020.

Above all, however, coaches and athletes alike were thankful to have a season in which fans were able to attend championship meets.

“It’s super nice, especially not seeing everyone wearing their masks and seeing all these people here, it’s great,” said Carly Warn of Winslow at the Class C state championships on June 5, where she won all four of her events (100, 200, triple jump and long jump).

“It’s awesome,” said Messalonskee’s Dylan Flewelling during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference large school championship on May 29. “We were just talking about, me and some other guys (competing) in the mile, this is the biggest event (at that point in the season) with the most fans. The race, hearing everybody yelling the whole way around the track was awesome.”

There were, of course, some changes to the sport n 2021. To limit crowds, conference meets were divided up into multiple locations. The Mountain Valley Conference championships were split into North and South division titles, while the KVAC had small, small-medium, medium-large and large school championships. Furthermore, numbers were reduced for qualifying athletes for the state championship meets.

“I think one of the things we knew going into this year was things were going to be different, and to not let anything that is a little quirky going into the season….we missed 10-12 days because of close contacts, the schedule is a little bit different,” said Cony head coach Shawn Totman after his girls team won the KVAC medium-large school title on May 29. “It’s almost like you’ve got to go with the flow. These things are kind of beyond our control, and you’ve just got to perform the best that you can.”

There were several notable moments throughout the season. Messalonskee, for example, hosted its first home meet in more than 30 years, taking on Belfast and Skowhegan at its 2-year old turf facility. Messalonskee also hosted the KVAC large school championship.

Cony’s Julia Reny wins the 400-meters at the Capital City Classic on May 21 at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It’s incredible,” Messalonskee coach Matt Holman said during the opening meet. “Once it became evident that it was going to happen, the kids were very excited. The community was excited. … We’re really happy about it.”

Multiple teams thrived during the conference championships, with Lisbon/Oak Hill sweeping the MVC South meet, Monmouth winning the MVC North girls title, Winslow winning the KVAC small school girls title and Cony taking home the KVAC medium-large girls championship. Most notably, the Hall-Dale boys took home the program’s first conference title, when the Bulldogs held off Mt. Abram for the MVC North championship. The Bulldogs were led in that meet by senior Ian Stebbins, who won all four of his events (100, long jump, triple jump and pole vault).

“Everyone’s riding a big high,” Hall-Dale head coach Jarod Richmond said after the MVC North meet. “That’s the first team title of any kind in the history of the boys program at Hall-Dale, so that’s a big check mark that we finally clicked off there.”

The Cony girls managed to complete the postseason run, capturing the Class B title — the program’s first — thanks to the performances of Anna Reny (win in 300-meter hurdles, second in 100 hurdles and the 200), Julia Reny (winning the state crown in the javelin) and Grace Kirk (second in the 800 and 1,600).

“This team has really bought in to the idea that success comes through in how hard we work in practice,” Totman said ahead of the Class B meet.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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