Keep track of these runners, jumpers and throwers; Indoor season promises to be memorable
Cheverus, Deering, McAuley and Portland all figure to steal some indoor track and field headlines this season as each school features standout athletes.
Cheverus is coming off a pair of cross country state titles in the fall. The Stags figure to benefit from their distance runners, but have much more in their arsenal.
The boys' team, which was fifth at the Southern Maine Activities Association meet and sixth at the Class A state meet a year ago, is led by senior Taylor Dundas, junior Jack Terwilliger and senior Andrew Snyder, who were three-quarters of a Class A champion 3,200 relay team in 2008-09. Snyder finished runner-up in the 800, Terwilliger was second in the two-mile and Dundas was fifth in the mile last season. All three standouts expect to be just as strong, if not better, this time around. Nearly as solid as the distance runners are the Stags' throwers. Last winter, senior John White was fourth in the shot put. Seniors Beau Michaud and James Rutter both will look to score this season. Senior Matt Place, known for his football skills, joins the throwing roster as well. Junior Jack Bushey is the top threat in the shorter races.
"We have good numbers," said Cheverus' third-year coach Bruce Bickford. "I'm very excited about that. We're strong in the distance and the throws. We're thin everywhere else. We hope to find a few other guys for those events. It should be interesting this year. We've been rebuilding indoors since I've been here. I feel like we'll be a lot more competitive this year."
The girls' team was fifth at the SMAA meet and eighth at states last winter. The Stags should be very strong in several events. Sophomore Fiona Hendry is the reigning state champion in the mile and the two-mile. Seniors Abby Norbert and Lianna Rubinoff also provide distance depth. Junior Caroline Summa was runner-up in the high jump last year. She'll look to take home the championship this time around. Senior Emily Ford could also be a factor in the jumps, as well as the shot put and sprints. Other throwers to watch include senior Ashley Giddinge, sophomore Katie Shapiro and new senior Audrey Grinnell, who just signed a softball letter of intent to the University of Connecticut. In addition to Ford, junior Alex Dion, Summa and new sophomore Samantha Shannon will also be formidable in the sprints.
"The team remains small, but we have doubled our numbers compared to last year," said coach Valerie Guillet, now in her 10th season. "We have quite a few freshmen which is a great thing even though it won't immediately pay off. Our returning athletes have the experience and talent to do well at states while focusing throughout the season on getting strong and building confidence for the outdoor season. If everyone performs as expected, we'll do very well."
The Rams of Deering should be very strong at the Portland Expo.
The boys' squad (second at Southwesterns and tied for 18th at states a year ago) returns junior Sam Balzano (sixth in the 55 last year at states), sophomore Renaldo Lowry (seventh in the 200 last winter) and junior Carleton Allen (a hurdler and high jumper). Junior Joe Luka joins the team and will be a threat in the longer races.
"We'll focus on the regular season meets and Southwesterns," said Rams coach Dick Kress, entering his 18th season. "We're not a big meet team. The junior division is also a question mark. It's way too early to predict season performances, but I'm optimistic about continuing our success at the Expo if the junior division develops and athletes stay injury-free."
The Deering girls were sixth at the SMAA meet and tied for 15th at states in 2009-10. This year's team boasts plenty of solid athletes.
Seniors Fiona Densmore and Jane Farrell return as scorers from last year (both did so in relays). Densmore will sprint and Farrell will focus on the middle-distance events this season. Junior Amanda Masse (sprints), senior Maggie McKeon (distance), junior Kristin Pollard (distance) and senior Sarah Savage (400) all have experience and look to make a mark this winter. Freshman Trish Stewart, who holds the middle school high jump record, should jump right into the fray and make an immediate impact, as will senior Claire Ramonas, best known for her brilliance on the basketball court. Ramonas will throw and could single-handedly help Deering eclipse last year's state meet point total.
"Our junior division will be very strong," said Rams coach Kevin Campbell, now in his eighth season. "Our relays are always competitive. We'll be able compete with almost every team in the league. Our goal is to finish in the top half at states and score more points than last year."
McAuley was ninth at the league and state meets a year ago. This winter, the Lions feature Fall Athlete of the Year, senior Lauren Fecteau, who was third in the mile and fifth in the two-mile last winter, along with senior Allina Verrillo, who was runner-up in the shot put. This season, Fecteau will be kept company in the distance races by senior Victoria Hugo-Vidal and sophomore Christina Leake. The shorter races will be run by sophomore Taxiarhia Arabatzis, junior Allison Bonner, junior Emma Kenney and senior Becca Tanous, juniors Autumn Becker and Sarah Meuse and sophomores Wendy Doan and LuLu Hawks. Becker, Tanous and junior Victoria Tanenbaum are the hurdlers. Kenney, Meuse and Tanenbaum are also jumpers. Hawks and senior Zrnitza Savova add depth to the throwing events.
"We finished ninth last year with a very young team," said McAuley coach Tim Donovan, now in his eighth season. "We have better numbers this year with some experience. It could be one of our better teams in years."
Portland is also well-equipped to compete.
The boys' squad is led by the nonpareil Imadhi Zagon, who could have a record-setting season in store. Zagon finished runner-up in the high jump and long jump and was fifth in the 200 a year ago at states (where the Bulldogs came in 10th, they were ninth at the SMAA meet). Zagon is joined by senior jumper Kaori London-Hamilton and junior Abdi Ahmed (400) as potential point-scorers.
"Everyone will focus on Imadhi to see what he can do," said coach Carroll Nappi, entering his ninth season. "His focus is on the long jump this year. We'll see if he can put a new name in the record book. We hope to be competitive in the league."
The girls' team, which tied for 11th at the SMAA meet and didn't score at states, has better numbers this year. Junior Abby Daggett was sixth in the junior 400 a year ago at the SMAA championship meet. Junior Kallie Daggett competes in the 800. Junior Kara Cooper is also a distance threat. Sophomores Eleni Anderson and Alice Lala run the shorter races. Senior Kristen Byrnes is the top thrower.
"We have big numbers this year," said second-year coach Liz Koharian. "We have a lot of new faces, so I'm excited to see how we do during the season. My goal is to score in the state meet."
This year, the SMAA meet is Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Expo. The Class A state meet is Monday, Feb. 15 at the University of Southern Maine. The Class B state meet is the same day at Bates.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com