Class B competitors in the Penobscot Valley Conference-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League are gearing up for what should prove an exciting but challenging championship week.

The 45th annual PVC-EMITL championship on Monday will bring together many of the best runners, jumpers and throwers in the region. Five days later, qualifiers from the Class B schools will make the trip to Bates College in Lewiston for the state championship meet on Saturday, Feb. 13.

The Class A state meet will be held Feb. 15 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

For many years, PVC-EMITL athletes contested the conference championship on a Saturday, then had nine days before competing at states. Some conflicts and changes have resulted in this year’s shorter turnaround between meets.

The PVC-EMITL meet at the University of Maine’s New Balance Field House was moved to Monday in order to eliminate conflicts with a busy day for Black Bear athletics on Saturday. UMaine is hosting a track meet at 11 a.m., a women’s hockey game at 2 p.m. and a men’s hockey contest at 7 p.m. at Alfond Arena.

PVC-EMITL Director Mary Cady said the league wanted to avoid a situation similar to last year, when the meet was held concurrently with a UMaine men’s hockey game.

“The parking was horrible. It was an absolute nightmare,” said Cady, who has for Monday reserved one of UMaine’s parking lots to accommodate meet officials, coaches and workers.

Monday’s meet will get under way with field events at 3:30 p.m. and the running events at 3:45 p.m.

Cady cautioned that parking will still be an issue for fans as some UMaine students will be in classes and university faculty and staff will be present until after 4:30 p.m.

Athletes who qualify for the state meet will then have only four days to recover before the Feb. 13 competition at Bates.

The Class B state meet was switched to Saturday months ago after Bates altered its school calendar and moved the start of its one-week winter recess to Feb. 20. Previously, students and faculty were not present during the week the state meet was held.

“The one year our meet gets moved to Monday, the state meet gets moved to Saturday,” Cady said. “Our [Class] B coaches aren’t very happy about that, but they’ve known about it from the very beginning.”

Orono should have the inside track on the PVC-EMITL girls team title, an honor a Red Riots squad last earned in 1995. They’ll get a push from defending champ Hampden Academy and Brewer.

The Red Riots feature the defending PVC-EMITL Co-Outstanding Performers in senior Lauren Stoops and junior Tia Tardy, along with junior standout Becky Lopez-Anido.

Stoops is the defending champion in the 55-meter dash, the 55 hurdles and the 200 and is the top seed in all three events. Tardy, a transfer from Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, won the 800, the mile and the 2-mile a year ago. She tops the rankings in those events along with the 400.

Lopez-Anido is the No. 2 seed in each of those runs, and Orono’s Olivia Fandel is seeded third in the 800 and the 2-mile and is fifth in the mile. Allison Pickering is second in the pole vault, and Katie O’Brien is second in the long jump. The Red Riots also boast the top seed times in the 4×200 and 4×800 relays.

Other potential individual champions include Old Town jumper Oliviah Damboise, Bangor pole vaulter Rihan Smallwood and Hampden Academy shot putter Daija Misler.

Hampden Academy will try to claim a third consecutive PVC-EMITL boys team crown but is likely to face tough challenges from Brewer and Foxcroft Academy.

Hampden looks to Paul Casavant, last year’s Outstanding Performer. He is the defending league individual titlist in the mile and the 2-mile and is seeded first in the 800, where top-seeded Orono standout Tristan Butterfield is out with an injury.

The Broncos’ other mainstays include sprinter Thomas Darby, the top seed in the 55, No. 1 hurdler Alex Charette, who also should score in the jumps, and a handful of other performers.

Brewer is spearheaded by jumper and sprinter Erick Seekins, who heads the long jump field, along with top-seeded shot putter Austin Lufkin and a deep lineup of contributors that includes Nick Charalambous.

Foxcroft Academy’s prospects improved immensely with the return of senior Hunter Smith, who has been playing basketball but qualified his way into the championships with a big effort last weekend.

Smith is the man to beat by eight inches in the high jump at 6-feet, 6 inches, and a shot at the league record of 6-7¼ could be in the offing. He also heads the triple jump and is second behind Seekins in the long jump.

Distance man Cooper Nelson, Nathaniel Church, Chandler Rockwell and Tobias Hogfeldt are other likely point-scorers.

Mount Desert Island sprinter Ryan Bender and pole vaulters Johann Bradley of Bucksport and Dominick Lizotte of Bangor are among other people to watch.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...