ORONO, Maine — With the Class B state meet looming five days away, Tia Tardy was planning to “take it easy” during Monday night’s meet.
That meant the junior would concentrate on the mile and compete in both relays. The move was a success.
Tardy electrified the crowd at the New Balance Field House, shattering the Penobscot Valley Conference-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League mile mark in 4 minutes, 55.73 seconds. Only former Waterville star Bethanie Brown (4:54.57) has run a faster indoor high school mile in Maine.
Tardy’s performance was among several by Orono, which received two wins from senior Lauren Stoops and a record-setting pole vault by Allison Pickering to help the Red Riots win the conference championship.
Coach Chris Libby’s team won the 4×200 relay to edge Hampden Academy 95-89. Brewer finished third with 68 points, with Old Town (54) and Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor (38) rounding out the top five.
Senior Erick Seekins posted two firsts and a second individually amidst a well-rounded team effort as Brewer took the boys meet. Coach Dan Juilli’s Witches racked up 108 points to outdistance runner-up Hampden Academy (74.5). Old Town (50.5), MDI (45) and Foxcroft Academy claimed the Nos. 3-5 positions.
Paul Casavant of Hampden Academy exhibited his speed, resilience and grit to complete the distance triple and repeat as the boys Outstanding Performer. He defended his titles in the mile (4:35.00) and two-mile (9:54.95) and prevailed in the 800 in 2:01.80.
“I was hoping to do it this year and actually win all three,” Casavant said.
“The [800 is] my weakest event,” he added. “You’ve really got to take the mile easier and pace it, then just go all out in the 800 and give everything you have left in the two-mile,” Casavant said.
It was a breakout meet for MDI’s Ashley Anderson, who was named the girls Outstanding Performer. She ran a 7.60 to win the 55 meters, claimed the title in the 400 (1:02.70) and also took second in the 200.
The PVC-EMITL Anne Norton Clerk’s Sportsmanship Award was presented to Thomas Darby of Hampden Academy and Mavis Taungatu’a of Bucksport.
In the girls meet, Orono overcame the absence of injured junior Becky Lopez-Anido (hamstring) to win the meet.
“Our team dynamic is incredible,” Stoops said. “We have so many different people, and we can all honestly come together and it doesn’t matter. Our team is great, and I’m blessed to be on it.”
Stoops continued her recent domination by winning the 55 hurdles (8.70 seconds) and the 200 meters (26.34) and teamed with O’Brien, Jenna Gaetjen and Tardy on the 4×200 relay team that clinched the victory in 1:50.37.
Tardy has been working hard to break the five-minute barrier in the mile.
“It’s been a goal since cross-country to come into indoor and do that. It’s amazing to finally be able to get that goal,” she said.
Her effort eclipsed the previous league standard of 5:04.66 set by Brewer’s Heather Clark in 2003.
“As hard as it was, I had to really, really push past all the mental blocks and really buckle down,” Tardy said.
Orono’s Allison Pickering also put her name in the PVC-EMITL record books in the pole vault with a record vault of 10-3.
The senior’s record-setting effort included some drama as the bar wobbled precariously and turned on top of the supports, but it stayed in place.
“It’s just incredible,” Pickering said. “It’s kind of bizarre, I was not nervous at all. I was very relaxed.”
Pickering said that a recent technique practice without a bar and a new pole were instrumental in her achievement.
Orono’s squad of Jenna Gaetjen, Olivia Fandel, Lydia Chase and Tardy took the 4×800 in 10:23.42.
Old Town sophomore Oliviah Damboise earned two wins, taking the long jump (16-11¼) and the triple jump (35-9¾). Other girls champions included Brewer sophomore Arianna Geiser in the 800 (2:33.43), Hampden’s Daija Misler in the shot put (38-10), Old Town freshman Audree O’Meara in the two-mile (12:43.98), and John Bapst junior Olivia St. German in the high jump (5-0).
In the boys meet, Seekins began his day by winning the high jump with a personal best of 6 feet and continued his gold-medal efforts with a first-place performance of 20-5½ in the long jump. He also was second in the 400.
“Top to bottom, we had some good performances,” Juilli said. “We were seeded in almost every event.”
Junior Austin Lufkin took top honors in the shot put (53-0½), which received key efforts from junior Cayd Wortman, senior Nick Charalambous, Caleb Marsh, Garrett Graham, Michael Worcester and others.
“We just did what we’ve been doing all year,” Seekins said. “We were seeded to win, so we knew if we just did our best, we’d come out on top.”
Senior Ryan Bender of Mount Desert Island won the 55 meters (6.72), edging Hampden’s Thomas Darby by three-hundredths of a second, then outdueled Seekins in the 400 meters with a time of 51.39.
Senior Alex Charette of Hampden was a two-event winner in the 55 hurdles (8.66) and the triple jump (39-8) and was second in the high jump.
Old Town junior Troy Crawford won the 200 (23.17), junior Johann Bradley of Bucksport cleared 12-0 to win the pole vault.
Top seed Foxcroft Academy took first in the boys 4×800 relay (8:47.22) with Tobias Hogfeldt, Paul Birtwistle, Gabe Piquette and Chandler Rockwell, and the Ponies won the 4×200 (1:37.94) with Evan Chadbourne, Blaine Robinson, Hogfeldt and Jason Eubanks.