ORONO, Maine — Track and field teams need versatile athletes to be competitive, and the University of Maine men’s team features several for the spring season.
Jake Leithiser, a redshirt junior who graduated from Old Town High School in 2011, has already put himself into the record books at UMaine. Last spring, he ran 1 minute, 50.91 seconds in the 800-meter run in the preliminary rounds of the IC4A championships. That time was recorded as the third fastest in Maine outdoor history.
He also ranks fourth in the 400 meter dash with a time of 48.58 seconds, which he recorded in the spring of 2012. He decided to redshirt this indoor season to switch majors and to stay sharp for the outdoor season where he hopes to break 1:50 in the 800.
“That’s definitely the goal,” he said. “[Head coach] Mark Lech has been having me train in intervals that would have me running around 1:48. If that happens, that would be ideal.”
If he were to run 1:48, Leithiser would be very close to the school record of 1:48.28, which is held by Joe Moody, who graduated in 1999.
Leithiser also competes on the team’s 4×400 meter relay, which includes freshman Elijah and Isaac Yeboah, twin brothers who graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland last spring.
They have adjusted well to college training, according to Leithiser.
“We pretty much all train together,” he said. “It’s been kind of a learning curve where there are lot of these guys who haven’t run college track before. So coming in, it’s good having veteran leaders on the team that show you have to work hard.”
Leithiser will likely have plenty of opportunities this spring to achieve his personal goal, and he has his eyes set on the relay record. With the Yeboah brothers coming in, the future looks very bright for the team.
“We’ve been looking at the 4×4 school record for the past couple years, so I think that’s a big team goal right now,” Leithiser said.
Sophomore Levi Frye also will be trying to provide leadership for the Black Bears, a team that placed third at the America East Championships last spring, and has 13 freshmen this season.
Frye, who is from Walpole, New Hampshire, emerged as the fastest Black Bears miler this winter when he ran a personal best of 4 minutes, 15.46 seconds, and he placed fourth at the America East Indoor Championships in February.
“It was nice to know I have the leg speed,” he said.
As the season approaches Frye will start focusing on the 3,000 meter steeplechase, an event that requires a unique combination of endurance and jumping ability. He believes his training for the mile in the winter has helped gained the strength necessary for the event.
“I’m not normally a miler,” he said. “I did the mile to get ready for the steeplechase this spring.”
Frye placed 11th in the event last spring at the conference championships in Vermont, running 9:55.36 and looked at that performance as a learning experience. With his fitness and training, he remains confident about the upcoming season and hopes to qualify for the IC4A championships in May at Princeton University.
“IC4A is a goal of mine,” he said. “I’d like to get to the low nine minutes in the steeple this year.”
With a mixture of young talent and versatile athletes, the Black Bears look to have a promising season ahead of them. They travel to New Hampshire on April 4 to compete in a three-team meet that also includes Holy Cross.
For the team’s schedule, visit goblackbears.com.