Skowhegans Billy Albertson lands in the pit after completing a triple jump at the KVAC Large School Championship on May 27, 2023 at Lewiston High School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

This is it for Billy Albertson.

The Skowhegan senior has long been one of Maine track and field’s standouts, setting record after record indoors and out. Now, with no more high school seasons left after this, it’s his last chance to set the ones he’s still targeting in the pit and on the track.

“The thing that sticks in my mind most is that I want to leave a mark this outdoor season,” said Albertson, one of the state’s top jumpers. “I want to jump distances that I feel can’t be broken for a very long time.”

There’s a handful of local athletes with such potential as the first meets of the 2024 outdoor track season loom. Records, state championships and podium finishes are all in the cards for central Maine teams, which are set to begin their great pushes next week.

Albertson is the defending Class A state champion in both the long and triple jumps. After claiming those titles, he took second in last summer’s New England championships at Bangor’s Cameron Stadium.

He’s only gotten better. Albertson set a new meet record at the Class A indoor championship meet with a triple jump of 22-7 1/2 and took second at New England indoors in the event. He had previously set KVAC A indoor records in the triple jump (22-9 3/4) and 55-meter dash (6.57 seconds).


“After I hurt my (hamstring) and couldn’t really practice, my jumps stayed about the same compared to indoor, but my sprints got slower and slower as the season progressed,” Albertson said. “I’d really like to be able to go out there and set some records in sprints and do something better than what I did last year.”

Elsewhere in Class A, Nora McCourt, who placed fourth in the KVAC Medium School 1,600-meter run, returns for the Mt. Blue girls. The Messalonskee boys bring back Pierce Coughlin, the defending KVAC Large School champion in the boys 3,200-meter run, and Ben Ireland, the runner-up in the shot put.

Conference-wide, Brunswick will look to defend boys and girls KVAC Large School championships as well as the Class A boys state title. New Skowhegan head coach Dan Foss, who’s replaced Dave Evans after 13 years, thinks Lewiston will also be a tough challenge with a roster of nearly 75 athletes.

“Lewiston is a team that always seems to come in strong with their numbers,” said Foss, who was previously an assistant under Evans. “One of the big things we look at in regards to winning track meets is how many athletes you have, and Lewiston has really good numbers and some good athletes.”

In Class B, Waterville senior Maddie Yakimchick is the reigning KVAC Small long and triple jump champ and took second at KVACs and states in the 100. The Purple Panthers’ Kara Anderson, also a senior, was runner-up to Yakimchick in both jumping events and beat her out for the state title in the long jump.

Gardiner, which head coach Jen Boudreau said has over 50 athletes this year, has some particularly strong athletes on the girls side. The Tigers return Yana Montell, who won the Class B state javelin title with a throw of 114-3 as well as Abigail Fortin, who took fourth at states in the race walk.


Morses Bean Vallede, left, and Erskine Academy’s Sadie Pierce lean over the line in the first heat of the 100-meter dash during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Small/Medium School meet last season in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Gardiner, of course, had the state’s best race-walker a year ago in Ashlyn Poulin, who smashed the Class B state record with a time of 7:12.15. The Tigers, though, should still have two point-scorers in that event this year with a freshman phenom, Natalie Grant, set to join Fortin in the fold.

“She’s been training all winter on the track and is eyeing up Ashlyn’s records,” Boudreau said of Grant, who won the USA Track & Field 13-14 state championship in the event over the summer. “She’s always admired everything Ashlyn does, so it will be fun to see how she progresses over the next four years.”

Gardiner’s rival, Cony, returns both the boys and girls KVAC Medium School javelin champions in Jonny Lettre and Elise Cunningham, respectively. Erskine Academy brings back reigning KVAC Medium long and triple jump champion Sadie Pierce, while Lawrence returns discus runner-up Zoe Hutchins.

Despite being the smallest class, Class C has some of central Maine’s top runners and throwers. At the top of that list is Winslow senior Joey Richards, who won the KVAC Small School and state 400 titles last year and also won this year’s Class B indoor state title in the 200.

Richards was also on Winslow’s 4×800 team, which is coming off state championships in Class B indoor and Class C outdoor. Yet that team, which had also included Ethan Rancourt, Braden Rioux and Justin Rogers, could potentially get another fourth runner this year, head coach Ken Nadeau said.

Lawrence High Schools Zoe Hutchins prepares to compete in the shot put at the Community Cup track meet at Waterville Senior High School in Waterville on May 20, 2023. Morning Sentinel file photo

“That’s a great team — they won a lot and set school records — but the goal is to not have Joey on it because he scores so many points in too many other places,” Nadeau said. “We’re looking for alternatives; I had a freshman (Elliot Stepp) run at the KVAC meet, and we still won. We just want to maximize Joey’s talent.”


Maine Central Institute will also field a strong boys team this year with seniors Owen Moore and Isaac Keresey back in the field. Moore is the top returning shot-putter in Class C and won the KVAC Small School discus title a year ago, and Keresey won the KVAC Small pole vault and took second at states in the 400.

In Mountain Valley Conference boys competition, Mt. Abram returns a pair of Class C boys state champions in Reagan Lockaby (high jump) and Carter Butterfield (race walk). Jonah Jenkins, who placed second in the high jump at states and fifth in the triple jump, returns for Kents Hill.

New to the MVC is Maranacook, which brings back Olympia Farrell, the defending KVAC Small champ and state runner-up in the pole vault. Winthrop’s Isabel Folsom will look to improve on state meet performances in the long jump (third place) and triple jump (fifth place).

While Winslow hopes to contend on the KVAC Small boys circuit with its returners, Leavitt looks to be boys and girls favorites with another roster size of 100-plus. Lisbon will look to defend boys and girls titles in an MVC conference that Hall-Dale head coach Jarod Richmond says has strong numbers.

“For us, this is the biggest team we’ve had in a long time; I think we have 15-16 girls,” Richmond said. “Just from talking to other coaches, I know Boothbay/Wiscasset has good numbers, and Monmouth also has good numbers. I think you’re seeing more kids come out for track, and that makes things exciting.”

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