Maine Girls' Academy Lions Spring Athlete of the Year

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Sam Witkowski

Contributed photo.

SAM WITKOWSKI, Senior-Track

  • Class C state champion, pole vault

  • New England qualifier

  • MTCCCA all-state, honorable mention 

  • School record holder, pole vault

  • Captain

Witkowski did big things for a small team and soared past the competition, bowing out as a state champion.

Witkowski grew up in Portland and also took part in cheering and field hockey in high school, but it was in track where she made her biggest mark, even if she got off to a rocky start.

“I started track freshman year on a whim,” Witkowski said. “I was extremely nervous because I had watched way too many You Tube videos (of vaulting going wrong). After my first jump, the nerves went away.”

Witkowski didn’t score at the state meet as a freshman, placed 10th as a sophomore (7 feet, 6 inches) and as a junior, moved all the way up to third in Class C with a top vault of 8-6.

This spring, she had no peer, thanks in large part to a slight technical change she was able to finally master.

“Coach (Tim Donovan) always yelled at me, ‘hips up!,'” Witkowski said. “That got ingrained in me.”

“Sam’s big breakthrough this year was getting her hips up better,” said Donovan. “That came in the middle part of the season. We worked on trying to get more straight up and down. It was a process, but she eventually became more consistent.”

Witkowski, who also competed in sprints, relays and the triple jump, cleared 8-6 by the second meet of the regular season. She placed first in the pole vault for the first time in a meet at Bonny Eagle in mid-May with a vault of 8-6.

Witkowski saved her best work for the postseason, as she reached 9-feet at the SMAA championship meet (leaving her fifth), before clearing 9-0 again to win the Class C state title and set the school’s outdoor pole vault record in the process. Witkowski qualified for New Englands, but did not score.

“I’m beyond happy with my season,” Witkowski said. “It went way better than I had expected. Before the season, I wasn’t sure we’d have a team and I was freaking out, so I got people to join. Winning a state title had been my goal since freshman  year. It was very fun.”

Witkowski, who also volunteers for the Visitors Bureau, is planning to attend Loyola University in New Orleans, where she will take part in competitive cheering.

She leaves high school with much to be proud of. Sam Witkowski, MGA’s Spring Athlete of the Year, did the hard work to get better and was rewarded with a record-setting, championship-winning senior campaign.

Coach Tim Donovan’s comment: “Each year, Sam grew as a vaulter, as well as a leader. She always led by example and was always there for the team. We’ve had very small teams in recent years, so kids have to do multiple events to help us from a team perspective. Sam never worried if she had to run a relay or do the triple jump that it might take away from her best event. Sam’s teammates and I will truly miss her and wish her the best of luck in college.”

Previous winners:

2016 Sophie Krieckhaus (track)

2015 Elizabeth Poulin (lacrosse)

2014 Olivia Smith (track)

2013 Katherine Lake (lacrosse)

2012 Addie Devine (tennis)

2011 Shelby Bryant (softball)

2010 Shelby Bryant (softball)

2009 Erin Woodbury (tennis)

2008 Katelyn Call (softball)

2007 Abby Iselborn (track)

2006 Abby Iselborn (track)

2005 Abby Iselborn (track)

2004 Maureen Wark (lacrosse and track)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached atmhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sam Witkowski

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.