The first few weeks of 2017 have been quite good for Austin Lufkin.
Not only has the Brewer High School senior been chosen as a finalist for the Gaziano Award, given yearly to the state’s best offensive and defensive linemen, but he is rewriting league record books in the shot put circle.
Better yet, Lufkin did it twice in consecutive Penobscot Valley Conference-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League meets.
On Jan. 7, Lufkin shattered a league record that was more than a decade old by uncorking a throw of 59 feet, 8 inches — more than four feet longer than Tyler Eastman of Old Town’s 2005 standard of 55-2¾.
The following weekend, Lufkin broke his own record, inching closer to the elusive 60-foot mark with a toss of 59-11¾.
Lufkin’s most recent throw is better than the longstanding Class A state record of 59-10 that Ed Bogdanovich of South Portland has held since 1977, but it does not count as a state record because it did not come during a state championship meet.
Lufkin, the reigning Class A state champion in the shot put, is certainly not done yet.
“I’ve got to continue to work hard in the weight room,” said Lufkin, who entered the season with a vision of breaking the 60-foot barrier.
The season has been a family affair of sorts for Lufkin, whose throwing coach at Brewer is his older brother, Adam Lufkin, who is a member of the University of Maine track and field team.
“He’s definitely helped more than just a normal coach would have,” Austin Lufkin said. “He’s always there for me to talk to.”
Lufkin has been ranked as high as third in the nation this winter, and his mark of 59-11¾ places him at No. 6 entering this weekend’s meets.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said.
One thing Lufkin has worked hard on is his throwing technique. As a junior, he used a spinning style that some shot putters use, but he decided to go back to a gliding technique coming into this winter.
“It’s a more natural movement for me,” Lufkin said. “The spin is a lot more technical.”
Even though Lufkin would like to keep earning personal bests and crack 60 feet in the shot put, one of his prime focal points is on helping his Witches win a PVC-EMITL championship next month.
The Brewer boys are the reigning league champions and finished fifth in the Class A state meet last year.
The Witches have won all three of their meets so far this season.
“Brewer’s got a great history in track,” Lufkin said.
The longest throw by a shot putter in the history of Maine high school track and field occurred last spring when Dan Guiliani of South Portland uncorked a throw of 71-1½ at the Southwestern Maine Activities Association conference championships.
Hassett chasing 800 record
While Lufkin has broken new ground in the shot put, George Stevens Academy senior John Hassett is on pace to rewrite the record books in the 800 meters.
Hassett, coming off an outstanding fall cross-country season during which he was the Class C state champion, came close last weekend to eclipsing a PVC-EMITL half-mile mark that is 15 years old.
Hassett posted a speedy time of 1 minute, 57.57 seconds in the 800 meters, a New Balance Field House high school record.
The performance is just over a second shy of the league standard of 1:56.42 set by Ellsworth’s Steve DeWitt in 2002.
Hassett won the 2-mile in 10:34.24.
Elsewhere around the league, Tia Tardy of Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor ran her first mile of the winter, posting a 5:04.79 winning effort. Hampden Academy shot putter Daija Misler, who set a UMaine facility record of 38-10 earlier this winner, posted another strong effort in throwing 38-8.
Follow Ryan McLaughlin on Twitter at @rmclaughlin23.