The KVAC and MVC track and field championships are now planned and ready to take place from May 26 to May 29 in four locations and in six total parts.
The KVAC championship will be split between Brunswick and Messalonskee High Schools, as all teams will be split up into four groups, with both sites holding a meet on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday, May 28, Brunswick will host Morse, Nokomis, Erskine Academy, Lincoln Academy and Leavitt, while Messalonskee will host Waterville, Belfast, Oceanside, Winslow, MCI, Mt. View and Maranacook. On Saturday, May 29, Brunswick will host Camden Hills, Cony, Mt. Ararat, Gardiner, Lawrence and Medomak Valley along with the hometown Dragons, while Messalonskee will host Lewiston, Oxford Hills, Edward Little, Skowhegan and Mt. Blue along with the home team Eagles.
Ryan Laroche, athletic director at Leavitt Area High School and the chair of the KVAC Outdoor Track Committee, said the meets will take place similarly to how championship meets have happened in the past.
“Each of those meets will have an individual and team champion for everything,” Laroche said. “There will be an individual plaque for each meet, it won’t say group or class or anything. As far as the athlete of the meet awards, after the meets are over there will be a ballot and the large and large-medium teams will vote for one, and the small and small-medium teams will vote for one. So there will be a track athlete of the group and a field athlete of each group, boy and girl, so the same number of athletes of the meets we’ve done in the past. Then coach of the year will be the same thing, both groups will vote.”
In lane events, the top 16 entrants will qualify for each KVAC meet being held, and top 12 in every other event. There will be two flights or a double pole for each running event.
While the KVAC has split the usual one meet into four, the MVC has split its championship meet into two — a north and a south meet — but some aren’t happy about the decision.
“The plan is to have it broken into two regions, the north hosted by Hall-Dale High School on May 26 and Lisbon would host the south on May 27,” Lisbon Athletic Director Eric Hall said. “It’s been unpopular to some.”
While Hall cited logistical issues as the reason the meet needed to be split into two groups, Monmouth Academy coach Tom Menendez cited many reasons why one meet would have been better.
“In my opinion, the MVC championship looks like a mess,” Menendez said. “…The word that I heard is that (Hall) is worried about big fields and so you start looking at these fields and it’s just ridiculous. We had a meet, and I go through it, and we had two girls qualify in the 200, one in the mile, couple in the long jump, three girls in the shot put, no boys in the 100 and he’s looking at it like all of a sudden he will have all these people qualify and it’s like, oh my goodness. Now I’m hoping with the governor relaxing all these restrictions we can get everyone in the same place at the same time.”
Hall reiterated that there are no plans to make the MVC championship into one meet, even as Gov. Janet Mills changed masks and physical distancing rules, effective May 24.
Menendez mentioned the low numbers already qualified for the MVC meets, so splitting the meet up into two makes the meet faster, but not to a benefit.
“It’s not fair to the kids that run the 800, mile and two-mile because they’ll be racing three and a half miles in like 20 minutes,” Menendez said. “Then you look at the fact that we have the two meets on different days, different places, different conditions and different competition. I could be winning the 800 and have no competition, so I’ll ease up, but the other division might have competition and when you look at the final results you say, ‘Jeez, I sucked because I didn’t have competition.’… they’re going to get hammered. Then you look at the throwers, they’ll have bam, bam, bam, three throws and you’re going to get kids getting injured, getting their arms thrown out or maybe just saying ‘I’ll just do one throw and move on.’ There’s one kid in the south in the javelin and there’s three in the north, so is the kid in the south throwing by himself?”
Coaches have been in contact with each other, according to Menendez, and many don’t think they will get much more in the way of qualifiers because team sizes are down this year due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t know if any coaches were asked for feedback,” Menendez said. “I know my AD wasn’t asked for feedback, so I’m looking at who is making these decisions? We’re just sort of frustrated.”
As for his team, Menendez thinks he can cover “13 or 14 events” on both the boys and girls teams, which he said would put them in a “good position to be competitive.”
Monmouth’s Jared Martin leads all MVC throwers in the discus, with a top throw of 145-09, and a top shot put throw of 42-5.75. On the girls side, Monmouth’s Allyson Lewis leads all MVC racewalkers with a top time of 7:40, while teammate Alexa Allen leads the conference in the 800-meter run (2:42.51) and the 3,200-meter run (12:34.81).
Some other notable performers in the MVC are James Cognata of Winthrop, who leads the conference in the 200-meter dash (24.38), the 400-meter dash (51.54) and the 800-meter run (2:04.18), as well as Emmett Mooney, who leads the MVC in the long jump (19-4), triple jump (38-9.5), 110-meter hurdles (18.40) and the 300-meter hurdles (44.42). Mt. Abram’s Julia Wells leads all MVC girls in the 400 (1:08.43) and the 1,600-meter run (5:45.95).
On the KVAC side, Cony’s Anna Reny leads in the 100-meter hurdles (16.26) and the 300-meter hurdles (48.23), while her teammate Grace Kirk holds the top spot in 800 (2:24.64) and the 1,600 (5:29.91).
Oxford Hills thrower Atticus Soehren is on top of the KVAC javelin rankings with a throwing best of 167-04, while Edward Little’s Jacob Jackson, one of the top jumpers in the state, is in first in both the triple jump (42-09) and the high jump (6-02).