Tia Tardy has competed for three schools as one of the state’s top distance runners – Mattanawcook Academy as a freshman and sophomore, Orono as a junior, and Mt. Desert Island as a senior.

Throughout her journey, Tardy has maintained her focus and hasn’t stopped improving.

Tardy added two more individual titles at the Class B indoor track championships – giving her seven indoor titles overall – and took second in another event to score 28 of her team’s 53 points, leading the Trojans to a second-place finish. She went on to place second in the mile at the New England championships, with one of the fastest times in Maine schoolgirl history.

Now a four-time member of the Maine Sunday Telegram All-State team for indoor track, Tardy is our choice as Girls’ Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

Tardy was busy as usual at the Class B state meet, running all three distance events. She won the mile in 5 minutes, 4.95 seconds – nine seconds faster than her closest challenger – and also placed first in the 800 (2:18.58) for the third year in a row. In the 2-mile, she was second (11:43.69), behind Yarmouth’s Abby Hamilton.

Two weeks later, Tardy placed second in the mile at the New England championships in 4:57.18 – a time that qualified her for the emerging-elite division at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. She won that event on March 10 with a time of 4:58.83.

Tardy is one of only three Maine high school girls to break five minutes in the mile, according to Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux, the Maine editor of Milesplit.com.

And Tardy has done so three times, with a personal best of 4:55.23 last year.

According to MDI Coach Brad Witham, Tardy was focused on winning the mile at New Englands rather than trying to break five minutes.

“She ran incredibly fast and incredibly tactical,” Witham said. “It went out a little slow. She went to the front with a surge. That’s what I love to see, especially for a distance runner. She’s not just running to win, but running for the challenge, elbow to elbow and tactical. She had two final amazing races.”

At nationals, Tardy ran for the win again. While her victory in the emerging elite race didn’t earn her All-American status (which is reserved for the championship race), Witham said she dominated the race.

No matter how many events she was running at a meet or where she was in the pack, Tardy never lost focus, according to her coach. And she has fit in well at her latest school.

“She identified well with everyone and really was receptive to being a part of it all here at MDI,” Witham said. “She’s a great supporter of Maine and a great ambassador of the distance runners here.”

ALL-STATE TEAM

Nyagoa Bayak, Westbrook sophomore: Won the high jump (5-6) and triple jump (37-03/4) at the Class A state meet, and finished fifth at New Englands in the high jump (5-3).

Olivia Damboise, Old Town junior: Won the Class B triple jump (35-01/4) and pole vault (9-9) and finished second in the long jump (16-71/2).

Emma Gallant, Cheverus freshman: Took first at the Class A state meet in the 200 (26.48) and 400 (58.86) – both in state-leading times – and was third in the 55 (7.48).

Abby Hamilton, Yarmouth senior: Won the 2-mile at the Class B state meet by 22 seconds (11:21.24) and previously ran a state-leading time of 11:11.18.

Emily Labbe, Scarborough freshman: Won the 55 (7.47) and finished second in the 200 (26.98) and 55 hurdles (8.79) at the Class A state meet, scoring 26 points to lift the Red Storm to the title.

Daija Misler, Hampden Academy senior: Won the shot put at the Class A state meet (40-9) and previously threw a state-leading mark of 41-1.

Juliana Selser, South Portland junior: Won the 800 at the Class A meet in a state-record time (2:16.82), and took fourth at New Englands in the 1,000 (2:53.72). Recorded a state-best time for the season in the 800 at the national championships (2:14.30).

Rihan Smallwood, Bangor senior: Successfully defended her Class A title in the pole vault (11-4) and moved up to third on the state’s all-time list.

Tia Tardy, Mt. Desert Island senior: Won the Class B mile (5:04.95) and 800 (2:18.58) and finished second in the 2-mile (11:43.69). Placed second in the mile at New Englands (4:57.18).

Emma White, Cheverus sophomore: Finished second at the Class A state meet in the long jump (17-21/4) and triple jump (36-51/2) and was third in the long jump at New Englands (18-0).

COACH OF THE YEAR

John Folan, Greely: Led his team to its first Class B state title since 2008, even though the Rangers didn’t produce an individual champion.

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: FlemingPph