Sam Rusak remembers in seventh grade when his track and field coach showed him the top decathlon age-group results in the country, and Rusak saw that his own results weren’t far behind.
Since then, Rusak has been methodically learning and improving in each of the decathlon’s 10 events. Judging from his results, all his hard work is paying off.
Rusak, now a Scarborough High senior, capped another outstanding indoor season by finishing fourth in the pentathlon at the New Balance national championships. That followed his stellar performance at the Class A state meet, where Rusak won all three of his events for the second straight year, including a state-record mark of 16 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault.
And for the second year in a row, Rusak is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
Over the last 13 months, Rusak is 10 for 10 at state championship meets across a wide range of events – winning six indoor and four outdoor titles. And he’s demonstrated his all-around proficiency by earning All-America honors in the decathlon (placing fourth at nationals last June) and pentathlon.
Rusak proudly says he’s learned all the decathlon events without the help of a personal trainer or coach, relying instead of the guidance of his high school coaches. He estimates that he works out for about four hours most days.
“During the season, I focus on the events I’ll compete in for the team,” Rusak said. “It doesn’t mean I don’t work on my other events, but I focus on the ones the team needs. Then, after states, I start training for my (other) events. That’s when I worked on the 1,000 (meters).”
In addition to his pole vault victory at the state meet, Rusak successfully defended his titles in the 200 (22.99) and high jump (6-0). He won those same events outdoors last June, along with the 110 hurdles.
At the indoor nationals, Rusak got off to a slow start, finishing 11th out of 14 competitors in the 60 hurdles (8.95). He improved in the long jump, finishing eighth with a personal-best mark of 20-61/4.
“He came up pretty clutch with a big PR that got him back on track. That was his first jump over 20 feet,” said Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux.
Then Rusak surprised even himself in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 44-31/4, good enough for second place.
After taking fifth in the high jump (5-111/2), Rusak was fourth overall going into the 1,000 and knew he needed to stay within 1.5 seconds of Pittsburgh’s Noah Swaby to keep his overall position. Swaby, the top seed in the 1,000, won the final event, but Rusak finished right behind him in 2:43.27, for an overall total of 3,576 points.
Rusak, who will attend the University of Connecticut on a track scholarship, said all the work has been fun, and that’s the secret to his success.
“I remember when I jumped my height in the high jump as a sophomore. I always thought it would be cool to jump over your height,” said Rusak, who is 6-1. “Then when I jumped 6-3 and 6-5, my dad got a photo of me standing under the bar looking up at it.”
Ben Batoosingh, Scarborough senior: Won the 400 (52.44) and placed third in the 200 (23.29) at the Class A state meet. Also ran a leg on their winning 800 relay (1:33.81).
Tanner Burton, Messalonskee junior: Won the 55-meter hurdles at the Class A state meet (7.73) and finished third (7.76) at New Englands.
Paul Casavant, Hampden Academy senior: Won the 2-mile by 27 seconds at the Class A meet in a state-leading time of 9:28.24.
Jarett Flaker, Scarborough freshman: Placed first in the 55 (6.68) and second in the 200 (22.99) in Class A. Ran a state-leading time of 6.61 in the 55 earlier in the season.
Zachariah Hoyle, Messalonskee junior: Won the 800 at the Class A meet in a state-leading time of 1:56.74.
Jason Montano, Thornton Academy sophomore: Took second at the Class A meet in the shot put (51-10) and finished fourth at New Englands (50-91/2).
Luke Laverdiere, Yarmouth junior: Won the mile (4:24.35) and 2-mile (9:49.73) at the Class B state meet, and finished fifth in the mile at New Englands (4:19.04).
Austin Lufkin, Brewer senior: Won the Class A shot put with a state-record throw of 61-2, and also won the event at New Englands (61-91/2).
Michaiah Robinson, Washington Academy senior: Won the 200 (22.83) and 400 (50.83) at the Class B meet, recording state-leading times in both events.
Sam Rusak, Scarborough senior: Set a state record of 16-3 in the pole vault and also won the 200 (22.99) and high jump (6-0) in Class A.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Derek Veilleux, Scarborough: Led the Red Storm to their seventh state title in nine years as Scarborough piled up 102.25 points – more than twice as many as runner-up Westbrook.
Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or: