March 27, 2011

Girls Track and Field MVP: Changing her course guided her to the next level

Scarborough's Nicole Kirk used challenging training techniques to develop her stamina and strength.

By Rachel Lenzi
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH - To reach the next competitive level in sprinting, Nicole Kirk had to make some changes. She stopped playing soccer and began running cross country in the fall to build her stamina. She changed which group of runners she practiced with, opting to run against boys instead of her Scarborough girls' track and field teammates.

click image to enlarge

Nicole Kirk, left, of Scarborough says she benefited as a sprinter from running cross country in the fall and practicing with stronger, faster runners on the boys' team this winter.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer


Nicole Kirk, Scarborough, junior, sprints

The Maine Sunday Telegram MVP, Kirk won the 200 (26.13), finished second in the 55 dash (7.41) and anchored the state championship 800 relay team.

Emilia Scheemaker, Scarborough, senior, jumps/sprints

Won Class A titles in the long jump (17-5) and triple jump (37-1/2) and helped the Red Storm place first in the 800 relay.

Amanda Peterson, Gray-New Gloucester, junior, sprints

Swept the Class B sprints, with times of 7.49 seconds in the 55 and 27.01 in the 200.

Randi London, Mt. Ararat, senior, shot put

Earned her second Class A title in the shot put (38-9) and finished fifth at the New England championships.

Edie Pallozzi, Deering, freshman, distance

Won Class A titles in the 800 (2:22.83) and 1,600 (5:21.54).

Maria Curit, Biddeford, senior, sprints/jumps

Placed first in the 400 (59.64), third in the 200 and fourth in the long jump at the Class A meet.

Bethanie Brown, Waterville, sophomore, distance

Won Class B titles in the 1,600 (5:26.21) and 3,200 (11:46.92) and ran a leg of the 3,200 relay.

Carley O'Brien, Traip Academy, senior, jumps/sprints

Won the Class B championship in the 55 hurdles (8.84), and finished second in the long jump and third in the triple jump.

Emily Mitchell, York, senior, jumps/sprints

Set a state record of 17-61/2 in the long jump and was third in the 55 dash at the Class B meet.


Lindsay Folsom, Cony, sophomore, pole vault

Won her second Class A championship in the pole vault (11-3), improving her height by nearly 2 feet.

Olivia Thurston, Waterville, junior, sprints

Set a Class B record in the 400 (59.51), and finished second in the 200 and 55 hurdles.

Alexis Dickinson, Brunswick, junior, sprints

Won the Class A title in the 55 (7.40), finished sixth in the 200, and helped Brunswick's 800 relay team finish second.

Coach of the Year

Stephanie Beattie, Bonny Eagle

Guided the Scots to a second-place finish behind Scarborough in Class A, in a meet that wasn't decided until the final event. Bonny Eagle scored in 11 events, including two scorers in three events.

The changes worked not only for Kirk's benefit, but also to the Red Storm's advantage.

Kirk, the Maine Sunday Telegram girls' indoor track and field MVP, won the Class A title in the 200 meters (26.13 seconds), finished second in the 55 dash (7.41) to Brunswick's Alexis Dickinson (7.40), and anchored Scarborough's 800-meter relay team to a state title, a win that secured Scarborough its seventh consecutive Class A championship.

Kirk and teammate Emilia Scheemaker combined for four individual and relay titles, and the Red Storm earned 39 additional points by placing in five other events.

"It shows how strong our team was," Kirk said. "We don't just have one strong person who does all of the work for us. We're a strong team and have so much depth behind us. Everyone works together."

Kirk focused on building her endurance over longer distances -- 3.1 miles to be exact, the standard course length in cross country.

"If a sprinter's going to be good, they've got to do the mileage and build up the aerobic base," Scarborough Coach Ron Kelly said. "She set goals and ultimately it was the more intense training that helped her improve. With the cross country base, she became more fit, and the lifting was a very important aspect for her, given her strength in the 200."

Once training for the indoor track season began, Kirk realized she wasn't maximizing her training potential by working out solely with the girls' team. Her sprinting coach, Jeffrey Messer, directed her and freshman teammate Morgan Rodway to train against sprinters from the boys' team -- bigger, stronger and faster training partners.

"We were the only two (girls) training with the boys," Kirk said. "Once we started doing that and got into competition, we thought, 'OK, we've run with the boys, so we can handle this. The boys are faster than everyone.' "

Kirk began to feel the benefits of those changes during the first weeks of indoor practices when she was running sets of 200s and 400s. She felt more fluid with each stride and she wasn't winded.

"You can run fast if you have natural talent," Kirk said. "To be the best and have the best times, it's really good to have the biomechanics down and the technique. It improves your times so much."

The change in training helped Kirk lower her times in both sprints. In 2010, Kirk was third at the state meet in the 55 (7.55) and fifth in the 200 (27.05).

"I've never done distance events because it's just not my strength, but it helped give me more endurance," Kirk said. "It helped me with a lot of my technique. And it helped me because it wasn't a stress. I didn't feel pressure about anything, and all of that definitely carried over into my sprinting."

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:


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