Harlow Ladd’s sudden takeover of the Maine distance scene this winter track season was a bit surprising.

It was unexpected not just because injuries have kept him from taking the headlines until now, but also because Ladd trains himself and doesn’t do a whole lot of it.

Yet Ladd’s low-key, low-mileage ways do not equate to low expectations.

The Messalonskee senior showed just how much fire he has at the Class A indoor track and field championship in February, not only by winning the mile and 2-mile, but breaking a 7-year-old state record set by another impressive Maine distance runner.

And yet, Eric Giddings’ mark of 9:24.26 was shattered easily by Ladd, who erased it with his 9:21.87 winning time.

And Ladd did so while running in the second lane for 10 of the 16 laps.

“I saw him running as a freshman playing soccer and I thought, ‘I’ve got to get him to run track,”‘ said Messalonskee Coach Scott Wilson.

It’s the record more than the two wins that made Ladd our pick for Maine Sunday Telegram boys’ indoor track and field athlete of the year.

And typical of this up-and-coming distance runner, Ladd thinks he can do better.

After giving up soccer his sophomore year to run cross country, Ladd hoped for great things as a junior.

Then tendinitis hampered his indoor season and he was out for three months.

When he came back at the end of the outdoor season having done very little mileage, he finished second in the mile at the state meet and in the 2-mile was well off the leading pace.

It’s a memory that drives him now.

“It was embarrassing. I was a captain and wasn’t doing my best. I thought about quitting,” Ladd said.

He came into this indoor season posting times of just under 9:30 in the 2-mile.

Then, at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet, Ladd won by running an easy 9:25.55.

He was only getting warmed up.

After his 9:21.87 at the state championships, he came back 21/2 weeks later to post a 9:16.40 at the New York City Armory in the junior national track championships.

And yet Ladd sid he can do better.

“He will just keep improving,” Wilson said. “Physically, he hasn’t peaked.

“Most kids don’t have that drive. He always runs to be his best. In workouts he never dogs it. He always pushes himself.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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Twitter: FlemingPph