GORHAM — The Class A indoor track and field state meet was full of surprises, except when it came to the team champions.
The Thornton Academy girls led from the start and finally claimed the state title after back-to-back years as the runner-up. And the Scarborough boys won their fourth consecutive championship in convincing style.
But the meet featured several other stories that were unusual, unexpected and even unlikely.
Tori Daigle was expected to lead the way for Thornton Academy, and she did by winning the long jump and 55-meter hurdles. What came as a surprise, though, was Daigle’s state-meet record jump of 18 feet, 01/4 inch – more than a foot beyond her seed.
Daigle came back moments later to win the hurdles (8.50) before taking seventh in the 200 (27.60).
“We were hoping she would jump 17-5. That was crazy, 18 (feet) is crazy,” said Thornton Coach Lisa Huntress. “I’ll never forget standing there and seeing it. And I’m a big believer that once you get the momentum, you really get going. That gave us the momentum.”
Thornton finished with 53 points, nine more than Cheverus and 13 ahead of defending state champion Bangor.
Probably the biggest unexpected performance in the meet was in the shot put. After Gorham senior Sophia Swiatek failed to clear a height in the pole vault, where she was ranked third, she more than made up for it in the shot put. She was seeded ninth in that event but ended up with the state title.
While Thornton’s Kaeleigh Harrison, the No. 1 seed, threw a foot less than her best, Swiatek said she took all her anger and energy from the pole vault and channeled it into the shot put. She threw nearly two feet beyond her best, winning with a heave of 34-4 3/4.
“I’ve been throwing the shot put since I was in sixth grade, but I’ve always loved the pole vault,” Swiatek said with a grin. “But it’s a great feeling to win a state title.”
In the boys’ meet, the unexpected performances came from South Portland’s long and triple jumpers and Scarborough’s path to victory.
Despite having only one individual winner, Scarborough piled up 91.33 points. Cheverus and South Portland tied for second with 62.
Scarborough’s victory came in the 2-mile. Jacob Terry lost the lead as the bell sounded for the final lap, fell four yards behind Brewer’s Luke Rand, then caught Rand around the last turn and won by four yards in 10:03.72. Rand was the runner-up in 10:04.23.
“It was pretty tough to go with him down the backstretch, but I made myself,” said Terry. “I was kind of worried he’d outkick me, but that happened last week (at the SMAA championships). Winning today feels pretty good.”
“I told him, we’ve won the meet, just go out and relax. That’s the last thing I said to him,” said Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux.
South Portland’s jumpers, meanwhile, finished 1-2-3 in both the triple jump and long jump for a total of 48 points.
Michael Cuesta won the triple jump in 45-4, ahead of Duncan Preston (42-9 3/4) and Benjamin Michaud (41-8 1/2). In the long jump, Preston finished first (21-1), followed by Michaud (20-3.50) and Cuesta (20-2 1/2).
“For me after getting first in the long jump, I was chasing Michael (in the triple jump), but he had an amazing jump,” Preston said. “He’s worked so hard. These guys have been jumping longer than I have. They kind of took me under their wing. He deserves it.”
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: