Cheverus boys' title highlights state track meet
After playing the role of the bridesmaid three times in four years, nothing was going to stop the Cheverus boys' outdoor track team Saturday afternoon.
And as a result, the Stags reached the pinnacle for the first time this millennium.
In the Class A state meet at Windham High School, Cheverus tallied 99 points to easily outdistance Lewiston (70) and defending champion Scarborough (61) for the top spot. Deering (24 points) tied Bangor for ninth and Portland (6) tied Bonny Eagle, Cony, Mt. Ararat and Windham for 22nd.
The Stags had a lot of athletes step up on the big stage.
Event winners included Jake Dixon in the 400 (48.93 seconds, a new school record and a Nationals qualifying time), Isaac Yeboah in both the 110 hurdles (15.08, a new school record) and 300 hurdles (39.52), Nick White in the discus (155 feet, 2 inches) and the 400 (Luke Trickey, Dixon, Elijah Yeboah, Isaac Yeboah, in a state record and new program record time of 43.32 seconds) and 1,600 (Elijah Yeboah, Isaac Yeboah, James Hannigan and Dixon, in 3 minutes, 25.98 seconds) relay teams.
Dixon was runner-up in the 200 (22.76). Elijah Yeboah was second to his brother in both the 110 hurdles (15.12) and 300 hurdles (39.81). Jacob Schott placed third in the high jump (6-2). White finished fourth in the shot put (48-5). Justin Johnston placed fifth in the javelin (149-5). Tim Jerome was sixth in the javelin (147-10).
At last, the Stags were champions for the first time since 1998 and for the 10th time overall.
"Finally!" said Cheverus coach Steve Virgilio. "It's been 16 years. We knew it would happen, it was just a question of when. The guys were really excited. I feel a lot of pride. Something unforeseen, like an injury or someone dropping a baton, always seemed to happen, but it all worked this year. We had some unbelievable and unprecedented performances. We wanted to win and do something special. We wanted to elicit pride in people and we did."
The Stags lose the two Yeboahs, but every other scorer returns, suggesting that now that Cheverus has broken through, it will make it a habit.
"I hope it happens again," said Virgilio. "We want to make it a tradition and have the girls win one too."
Deering was led by Yahya Hussein, who won the two-mile (9:44.83), and Hamy Ramadan, who set a new school record in coming in second to Dixon in the 400 in a time of 49.52 (.34 better than Brian Vail's mark from the 2004 state meet). Iid Sheikh-Yusef placed fifth in the two-mile (9:54.98). Paolo DeMarco was fifth in the 300 hurdles (42.18).
Portland's points came from Jonathan Bobe, who was fourth in the 400 (51.79) and sixth in the 200 (23.53).
The Class A girls' meet was won by Thornton Academy with 65 points. Cheverus tied Gorham for eighth with 29 points. Deering tied Bangor for 14th with 17 points and Portland's 8 points left it 22nd.
The Stags were led by Kiera Murray, who won the two-mile in 11:29.31. Emily Grinnell came in sixth in the javelin (93-5). Milena Opielowski was seventh in the long jump (15-6.5).
Cheverus' 400 relay team (Opielowski, Lizzie Ford, Sarah Mount and Meredith Willard) was runner-up to Lewiston in 50.56. The 1,600 relay team (Emily Turner, Kaitlyn Dostie, Georgia Caso and Mount) was fourth (4:18.51). The 3,200 squad (Dostie, Laura Bither, Murray and Caso) also came in fourth (9:59.09).
"Kiera was awesome," Virgilio said. "She's a three-time two-mile state champion. We did well in the relays too."
While Murray is heading to Stonehill College and Bither, Ford and Willard also depart, Cheverus could be even stronger a year from now.
"We have a lot of returning girls and some really good freshmen coming in," Virgilio said.
The Rams got a runner-up performance from Alexis Elowitch in the javelin (110-11). Elowitch also placed sixth in the shot put (33-11). Rashad Zagon tied Massabesic's Haley Bantz for third in the high jump (5-4), finished seventh in the 100 hurdles (16.93) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (49.41).
The Bulldogs' points came from Madison Bolduc, who was runner-up in the triple jump (34-9.25).
In the Class C state meet, held in Dover-Foxcroft, McAuley tied Yarmouth for fifth on the girls' side with 28 points (Orono was first with 102). Waynflete did not score.
All of the Lions' points came from senior throwing standout Olivia Smith, who won the javelin (121-3) and discus (122-3) and placed second in the shot put (35-8).
Waynflete did not score in the boys' meet, which was won by Lisbon with 67 points.
The New England championship meet is coming up this Saturday at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.
Cheverus' Isaac Yeboah (boys' 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Dixon (boys' 400), Schott (boys' high jump), Murray (girls' two-mile), White (boys' discus and shot put) and the boys' 400 and 1,600 and girls' 400 and 3,200 relays and Deering's DePaolo (300 hurdles), Hussein (boys' two-mile) and Zagon (girls' high jump) all qualified.