Purple Panthers, Rangers set to do battle
Another year, another showdown with Greely.
The Waterville girls indoor track and field team will go for its third consecutive Class B state championship today and once again it will be Greely providing the toughest obstacle.
"They are our arch-nemesis," Waterville coach Ian Wilson said. "They have been very tough over the years. They always seem to be strong."
The same, of course, can be said about the Purple Panthers, who turned back the Rangers in each of the last two Class B meets.
The Class B championships will get under way at 10 a.m. today at Bates College. The University of Southern Maine will host the Class A meet, also beginning at 10 a.m.
"Our girls have been strong all year," Wilson said. "My expectation is that if we perform up to our ability we should have a good chance of winning."
The Waterville boys, meanwhile, will try to run down York and avoid a second-place finish for a third straight season.
"York is the clear favorite," Wilson added. "It won it last year and it didn´t lose a whole lot to graduation. On paper, we are seeded considerably behind them."
However, seed times and distances are a bit misleading this season because Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference teams did not benefit from a conference championship meet because of the recent Nor´easter.
The Western Maine Conference, as well as the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, was able to hold championship meets.
"We didn´t have the luxury of having a conference championship," Wilson said, "and that is when kids normally post big (personal records). We haven´t had a meet in three weeks. My feeling is that we´re a little under-represented of what we´re capable of doing. I expect we´ll do better."
Senior Bethanie Brown once again leads the Purple Panthers. She will run three distance events -- the mile, two mile and the 800-meters. She is seeded first in the mile and two-mile run.
On the boys side, Waterville will need strong performances from Nick Danner (shot put), Jordhan Levine (triple jump) and Devin Burgess (pole vault, long jump) to dethrone York.
Burgess is the defending state champ in the pole vault and is poised to break a state record in the event this year. He´s cleared 14 feet this season and the record is 14-0.75, which Brian Johnson of Scarborough set in 1986.
"We´re chomping at the bit," Wilson said. "There´s kids in a lot of places who can help us."
In Class A, Cony senior Lindsey Folsom hopes to break the state record in the pole vault as well. She´s cleared 11-4 this season. Former Cony standout vaulter Bethany Dumas holds the Class A record at 11-10, set in 2008.
"I definitely can do it," she said. "I feel more confident than I ever have."
Folsom acknowledged the long layoff between meets has been difficult.
"It´s been way too long," she said. "We´ve been practicing a lot, but it was so upsetting to not have the KVACs. We worked all season for the KVACs and states and to not have that opportunity was disappointing. But all we can do now is focus on states."
Cony senior Luke Dang is seeded second in the 55-meter dash (6.77) and fifth in the 200 (23.59).
"Luke Dang has been training hard the last three weeks," Cony coach Peter Marsh said. "Hopefully, he´ll be in good shape for the races. His best performance is in the 55."
Also in Class A, Mt. Blue senior Justin Tracy is second in the mile (4:32.47) while Lawrence senior Jeremy Frantz is fifth in the shot put (46.6.5). Skowhegan junior Brett Gilbert is fourth in the high jump (6-2).
Messalonskee junior Amanda Knight is seeded third in the 400 (1:02.26) while Lawrence senior Sasha Letourneau should also score well. She is seeded second in the 200 (27.0) and fifth in the 55-meter dash (7.64).
Bill Stewart -- 621-5640