Jayden Flaker got his first look at the new and improved Cameron Stadium last fall.

Football was foremost on the mind of the Scarborough High School senior that early November evening as he and his Red Storm teammates traveled to Bangor for a Class A playoff game.

Things went well for Flaker that night, as he rushed for one touchdown and passed for a second score as Scarborough avenged a one-point regular-season loss to the Rams on its home field with a 40-14 victory to advance to the semifinals.

Jayden Flaker of Scarborough. Credit: Ernie Clark | BDN

But not every moment of that visit was focused on football, at least for Flaker, also a talented track and field athlete.

“I remember walking on the track here last fall and it felt extra bouncy. I was hoping the state meet was going to be here,” he said.

Flaker’s wish came true Saturday, as Bangor High School capped off its first year of track and field competition at the revitalized multi-purpose facility by hosting the Class A state championships at Cameron Stadium for the first time in more than two decades.

The afternoon went well for Flaker, who successfully defended his 2021 state titles in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles to help the Scarborough boys capture their third straight state title.

Flaker was clocked in 14.52 seconds in the 100 and 39.25 seconds in the 300 to improve on his championship times from a year earlier.

“It’s such a beautiful place and the track is extra bouncy so when you give, it gives you something back when you’re running,” he said. “It helps a lot.”

Flaker was one of the many Class A track standouts from around the state who were competing at the modernized Cameron Stadium for the first time and liked what they saw and how they felt on the new eight-lane track and surrounding facilities.

“My brother and I came up [Friday] night and did a little jogging when no one was here, and it was beautiful,” said Andrew Farr, a senior sprinter from Gorham who swept the boys’ 100, 200 and 400 at states. “The turf and the track, it’s all nice material, and I love the grandstand. It was a long drive, but it was worth it.”

Athletes participating in the Class A meet also found several other points of favor such as the proximity of the jumping events to the main track and the placement of the team tents just outside the fence surrounding the track so athletes had a direct line of sight to watch the races  when they weren’t competing.

“I really like having the jumping area inside the [fence] because I feel like more people are able to watch the track events and the jumps at the same time,” said Gorham senior Alyvia Caruso, who set a Class A state-meet record in the long jump at 18 feet, 5.5 inches.

Alyvia Caruso of Gorham. Credit: Ernie Clark | BDN

“Sometimes people think track is just running in circles but there’s a lot more and usually the long jump pits are off in a corner away from the track. I really like it in the middle.”

The lone drawback of the day may have been the breeze from the south that, while refreshing for spectators, was a headwind for the runners as they approached the finish line.

That meant slightly slower times in some cases, perhaps preventing a state record in the boys’ 100 with Farr, Aidan Walcott of Bonny Eagle of Standish and Frank Morang of Cheverus of Portland poised to snap the overall state mark of 10.71 seconds held by Flaker and the Class A meet record of 10.80 seconds set by Walcott in last year’s state final.

All three had threatened the marks at the previous weekend’s Southwestern Maine Activities Association championships at Falmouth High School, where Walcott finished in 10.73 to edge Farr (10.74) and Morang (10.82).

Farr got the best of the rematch, getting off to a quick start and finishing in 11.03 seconds, just ahead of Morang (11.16) and Walcott (11.17).

“It’s a fast track,” said Morang, who also won the long and triple jumps. “The only thing that wasn’t good [Saturday] was the headwind, but that had nothing to do with the track itself.

“The times that were being run with the headwind just shows how fast the track really is. Without the headwind I think the times would have been really fast.”

Class A girls state pole vault champion Ainsley Reid of Brewer. Credit: Ernie Clark | BDN

Perhaps most grateful for the opportunity to compete in a state meet at Cameron Stadium were the student-athletes from local schools who typically have had to travel south each June to pursue their championship dreams.

“It was really nice,” said Brewer High School senior Ainsley Reid, state champion in the girls’ pole vault at 9 feet, 3 inches, “Last year it was in the south, somewhere far away [Massabesic High School in Waterboro], and I’m not one to wake up early, so I was really happy to just come across the river. I think it makes competing easier when you get more sleep, so it was convenient for us.”

It also was convenient for parents and other fans of the three Bangor-area Class A teams – Bangor, Brewer and Hampden Academy — to be able to support their teams without the typical two- to three-hour drive south.

Bangor’s Daniel McCarthy runs the final leg of the boys 4×800 meter relay at the Penobscot Valley Conference large schools track and field championship at Cameron Stadium in Bangor on Saturday. Credit: Ernie Clark | BDN

“Just to have all of our families here and we don’t have to get on a bus to go home, it’s amazing,” said Bangor junior Anna Connors, who swept the sprints to lead the Rams to their second straight Class A girls team title.

Another Ram, senior middle-distance runner Daniel McCarthy, also was appreciative of both the bolstered fan support and the track and field facility now available in his hometown, the result of a $5 million investment made over the last decade to replace the grandstand, install a state-of-the-art eight-lane track and add locker room and restroom facilities among other upgrades.

“It’s awesome,” said McCarthy, who won the boys’ 800 in 1:56.80. “It makes it that much more special when you run well.

“All tracks are the same, I guess, but we’re familiar with the surroundings, and it’s a more comfortable environment for us, and it makes doing well in our home city that much more special.”

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...