How is it Dan Curts won the 2-mile at the Class B state meet by 16 seconds without competition to push him, then came back a week later to run 15 seconds faster at the New England championships in Boston to smash an almost 40-year-old Maine state record?

Ellsworth Coach Andy Beardsley said Curts, who ran 9 minutes, 7.24 seconds in Boston to take third, simply took a lot of motivation into his senior year.

Or maybe kids in snowy Eastern Maine are just tough.

“When kids here get on a track to race in the winter, they feel so light wearing shorts and spikes. It makes them feel fast,” Beardsley said.

Whatever the reason for Curts’ exceptional improvement this indoor season, his performance at the New Englands that broke the 1975 all-time Maine record held by Bruce Bickford of Lawrence (9:15.5) put him in an elite class. And that was good enough for us to name him the Maine Sunday Telegram boys’ indoor track and field player of the year.

Unfortunately, Curts went to New York a week later – Beardsley said on even fresher legs – and fell in the first 50 meters of the 2-mile at the New Balance nationals, putting him out of contention and unable to post a faster time. He still ran 9:25.91, which only shows his grit.

“He definitely is a competitor. He is really motivated,” said Beardsley, Curts’ uncle as well as his high school coach.

Beardsley said Curts was frustrated during cross country after missing a month of running due to injury. Curts still went to the nationals that season and placed 19th in the country. But he wanted more out of his indoor track season.

Then when the completion of the University of Maine’s new indoor track slowed in January, Curts was unable to get on a track to train or race for a month.

He still focused on improving at championship time.

“It’s a tough thing for kids in Eastern Maine, especially those at Dan’s level,” Beardsley said of the lack of indoor training facilities.

Curts simply trained in hallways; ran on snowy and icy roads; and trained at a new level. When he’d go on distance runs outdoors he would be buried in layers of clothing to stay warm.

Beardsley thinks the challenge added to Curts’ motivation.

Next year he’ll run for Iowa State and no doubt continue a long tradition of outstanding Maine distance runners that has included Louie Luchini, Ben True, Matt Lane and Bickford.

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

Twitter: FlemingPph