James Ociti has good reason to be aiming for a state record. He lost to the record-holder in a photo finish in the 400 meters in the Class A state meet last year.
And the Biddeford senior has more reasons than that.
Ociti is leading the state in the 400 with his time of 50.89 seconds and in the 600 (1:16.47) this indoor track season, and his 400 time is ranked 18th in the nation.
Coach Ron Ouellette said in his 40 years coaching track at the school, Ociti is among the top athletes he’s coached, and many went on to excel in Division I. A state record is well within Ociti’s grasp, Ouellette said.
Last year Ociti finished second in the 400 at the Class A state meet behind Alex Nichols of Brunswick in a photo finish that gave Nichols the win and the record of 49.93 seconds.
“He probably was at this point last year, but his performance now is the result of inconsistent training, with the weird days off and snow days,” Ouellette said of Ociti.
“So we’re (racing) him in different events, getting him stronger. We want him to peak at the end of the season.”
And the Class A record and title is not Ociti’s only goal.
After finishing fourth in the 600 at the New Englands, Ouellette said he wants to move higher on that podium.
“At that level they’re so good,” Ouellette said.
“But he competed there last year. It was his first time. That’s overwhelming. This time he’ll know the track, the facility. It will be a big advantage.”
THE SCARBOROUGH boys graduated 10 seniors, including nine who scored at the Class A state championships that the Red Storm won last year, but remain a top favorite for the title.
“We would win by 40 or 50 points based on performances if it was scored now,” said Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux.
It’s more than speculation. Scarborough brings back a loaded underclassmen field that’s out to a fast start.
Scarborough boasts freshman pole vaulter Sam Rusak, who is ranked fourth in the state in the event (12-0); sophomore distance runner Colin Tardiff, who is ranked fourth in the state in the mile (4:37.64); and an underclassmen corps of sprinters that helped put their 800-meter relay squads second and fifth out of 24 teams at the league meet Dec. 28 in Gorham.
The Red Storm, who won four of the last five Class A indoor state titles, are well positioned to win another.
“I didn’t look at this as a down year. We lost talent but we have a strong core coming back,” Veilleux said.
“Our freshmen make progress every year. Colin did it last year. And we have a lot of good young freshmen other than Sam. Tradition helps but we don’t do a formal thing in the summer. It’s just the kids want to do well, and they work in the weight room during their other sports.”
LAKE REGION junior Kate Hall’s jump of 19-11 at the Rhode Island Classic on Dec. 28 not only leads Maine for girl jumpers, it ranks fifth among all high school boys in Maine.
And Hall said it was the announcer and big crowd at the big multistate meet that gave her the extra boost to improve her personal best by 9 inches.
At the Rhode Island Classic, Hall ran 7.01 in the 55 to win that event before she soared to 19-11 to win the long jump.
Both marks bettered the Maine girl’s Class A and B records.
The Class A record for the 55 of 7.22 was set by Alexis Dickinson of Brunswick in 2012 and the Class B record of 7.13 was set by Logan Crane of Freeport in 2004 at the state meet.
The Class A record for the long jump of 17-6.5 was set by Maria Curit of Biddeford in 2010; and the Class B record of 17-11.5 was set by Hall last year at the state meet.
“Going into the meet I was warming up in the lower 19s as I had the previous week. But I was way behind the board so I thought, ‘I can get in the high 19’s or 20’s,’ ” Hall said.
“Everyone started clapping and the announcer announced that I was the New England champion in the event. It was on the second jump (in the final) that I jumped 19-11. And on the last jump, as I was running, the crowd started clapping faster and faster. I had never experienced that before, that support from the crowd. I jumped 19-4 or 5 but I was a foot behind the board. My dad was going crazy.”
THE ATHLETES in the Southwestern Conference may get a look at their state competition Jan. 18 at the meet at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
Some teams in the Eastern Maine Indoor Track and Field League may come down to compete in order to make up for meets canceled due to weather, said George Mendros, the Thornton Academy coach and a liaison with the Maine Principals’ Association.
Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: