Winslow’s Braden Rioux runs in the 4×400-meter relay during the KVAC Small School track and field championships Friday on the Stadium Field track in Topsham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

WINSLOW — Neither a holiday nor a little bit of lousy weather could keep the Winslow track team from getting a head start on state championship week.

No, practice wasn’t mandatory Monday morning, the Memorial Day holiday and a day of no school for kids across the state. Yet there was a fervor among Winslow athletes to practice, something they did in the rain at 8 a.m.

“I usually give them Memorial Day off, but a bunch of the kiddos asked if we could practice, and I wasn’t going to say no,” said Winslow head coach Ken Nadeau. “A few kids were playing soccer in the Needham tournament in Massachusetts, but I’d say I still had about two-thirds of my team.”

With only the state championships remaining, athletes want to make sure they’re as prepared as can be. With the exception of the select few who qualify for the New England championships, the season comes to an end Saturday with state championship meets at Thornton Academy, Mount Desert Island and St. Joseph’s College.

Of all three state title meets, the Class A meet at Thornton Academy in Saco features the smallest central Maine contingent. Athletes from Messalonskee, Mt. Blue and Skowhegan will go up against the best of the rest from their own Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, in addition to as the Southern Maine Activities Association and Penobscot Valley Conference.

Nevertheless, central Maine does have one of the meet’s top athletes: Skowhegan’s Billy Albertson. The senior is the reigning state champion in the long and triple jumps and also hopes to contend in the sprints after bouncing back from a hamstring injury two weeks ago to win the KVAC Large School 100-meter dash title.


“Billy is looking really good,” said first-year Skowhegan head coach Dan Foss. “He’s been working a lot on his steps in the long and triple jumps and has been focusing on coming strong out of the blocks in the 100. He’s really been working at getting a rhythm down. I expect some big things from him this weekend.”

Elsewhere, Mt. Blue’s Cassidy Hardy will aim for state honors after winning the KVAC Large School discus and shot put titles. The KVAC champion Mt. Blue girls 4×800 and KVAC runner-up Messalonskee boys 4×100 relay teams will also look to turn in strong efforts.

In Class B, the Lawrence girls boast solid throwers in Zoe Hutchins and Nadia Morrison; the former is the KVAC Small School champ in the shot put and discus throw. Zeb Hannah should challenge for the discus title on the boys side after a winning throw of 157 feet, 9 inches at the KVAC meet.

After Gardiner’s Ashlyn Poulin won Class B race walk titles in 2022 and 2023, Natalie Grant will look to make it three straight for the Tigers in the event after winning the KVAC Large title. Gardiner’s Yana Montell looks to defend her state title in the javelin, and Cony’s Elise Cunningham also looks to contend in the event after placing second last week.

An official watches the foul line as Waterville’s Kara Anderson competes in the triple jump during a Jan. 19 KVAC indoor track and field meet at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Class B meet is also the last for a pair of Waterville seniors, Kara Anderson and Maddie Yakimchick. Anderson is the reigning state champ in the long jump and also won KVAC titles in the long and triple jumps last week. Yakimchick took second to Anderson in both jumps and won the KVAC 100-meter dash crown.

“Honestly, my biggest goal for Saturday is to start to do better in triple; I had a back injury over the summer, and my triple was going great, great, great until I plummeted,” Yakimchick said. “I kind of also want to get first in the 100 or at least PR in the 100. If I can do that, I think it’ll be a great day.”


In all, head coach Katie Souviney said, Waterville is sending 30 of its 48 team members to the state meet in some capacity. Between Yakimchick, Anderson and Sadie Williams, who finished second to Yakimchick in the KVAC Small 100, the Purple Panthers hope to build on a third-place conference finish last week.

“Kara and Sadie are super strong competitors, and honestly, I think my biggest competition has been them because we drive each other to get better,” Yakimchick said. “I think the big thing for us this year has been attitude; people want to get to states, and they’ve all been good about putting in 100 percent in the weight room and on the track.”

Leavitt, which boasts an enormous combined roster of 120, is one of the favorites for boys’ and girls’ teams crowns after sweeping the KVAC Small titles last week. Greely and York out of the Western Maine Conference should also contend, while Miles Burr will chase records in the sprints for host Mount Desert Island.

Central Maine has a chance to produce a team state title in Class C, with Winslow the slight favorite over Lisbon and Orono in the virtual meet seedings. Ken Nadeau’s Black Raiders did well to finish second at the KVAC Small a week ago but ultimately could not match Leavitt’s depth.

Winslow’s Joey Richards set KVAC records in the 200- and 400-meter dashes last week and will look to make it three consecutive state titles in the latter. Braden Rioux looks to contend in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs for the Black Raiders, who also took the 4×400 relay last week.

“It looks pretty tight on the boys side,” Nadeau said. “I know the virtual meet has us as No. 1, but it could really go a number of ways because the top three are all within 10 points of each other. … My kids love the big meets and always seem to find a way to do well, so hopefully, that can be the case again Saturday.”


Mt. Abram’s Reagan Lockaby gets some air while competing in the high jump at the Class C championship meet in June 2023 at Cony High School in Augusta. Lockaby won the high jump title with a 5-foot, 10-inch jump. Morning Sentinel file

Maine Central Institute’s Isaac Keresey will take aim at boys’ 300-meter hurdles and pole vault titles after winning KVAC Small titles in both of those events last week. The senior should also be a contender in the 800-meter run after finishing as conference runner-up.

Out of the Mountain Valley Conference, Mt. Abram’s Reagan Lockaby (high jump) and Carter Butterfield (race walk) look to defend state titles in their respective events. Maranacook’s Olympia Farrell (pole vault) and Winthrop’s Izzy Folsom (long jump) will hope to build on MVC titles after strong finishes at states last year.

Whereas the Class C boys team competition is expected to be tight, Orono is the clear-cut favorite to take home the girls title over North Yarmouth Academy and Bucksport. Between the Red Riots’ Ruth White and Houlton’s Teanne Ewings, some records could be set to fall in the distance events.

“Orono has a really good thing going up against them, and it’s tough to bet against them with Ruth,” Nadeau said. “They have a race-walker (defending state champ Maya Boyington) who’s also good. NYA has a few girls who are also really good; Sarah Moore is great in the sprints.”

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