June 26, 2011

Girls' Track MVP: Individual championships just a start for O'Brien

Traip Academy's Carley O'Brien peaked as an athlete and a leader, with MVP-worthy results.

By Rachel Lenzi rlenzi@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Carley O'Brien's goal of winning an individual state championship in outdoor track and field was a realistic one. After all, the Traip Academy senior had established herself as one of Class C's most dominant jumpers and hurdlers, and she was at the culmination of her training in her final high school meet.

click image to enlarge

Carley O'Brien won Class C titles in the 100 hurdles and long jump and ran a leg on Traip Academy's victorious 400-meter relay team, leading the Rangers to a state title.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM GIRLS’ ALL-STATE TRACK TEAM

Carley O’Brien, Traip Academy, senior hurdles/jumps: The Maine Sunday Telegram MVP, O’Brien won Class C titles in the 100 hurdles (15.88 seconds) and long jump (16 feet, 81⁄4 inches), finished second in the triple jump and ran a leg on Traip’s championship 400 relay team.

Abbey Leonardi, Kennebunk, junior distance: The Gatorade Maine athlete of the year won Class A titles in the 1,600 (4:55.39) and 3,200 (10:42.63), and set a meet record of 10:19.09 in the 3,200 at the New England Championships.

Nicole Kirk, Scarborough, junior sprints: Won the Class A title in the 100 and set a state record of 25.49 in the 200, anchored Scarborough’s 400 relay that set a Class A record of 49.65, and ran a leg of the Red Storm’s championship 1,600 relay. Also finished fourth in the 200 at the New England Championships.

Peyton Dostie, Bonny Eagle, senior hurdles/jumps: Set a Class A record of 44.67 in the 300 hurdles, finished second in the 200 and long jump, and ran a leg on the second-place 400 relay team. She also finished third in the 300 hurdles at the New England Championships.

Olivia Thurston, Waterville, junior sprints: Won Class B titles in the 100 hurdles (15.23) and 300 hurdles (45.49), helped Waterville capture the Class B title in the 1,600 relay, also ran a leg on the second-place 400 relay team.

Georgia Bolduc, Waterville, sophomore sprints/pole vault: Set a Class B record of 12:48 in the 100, finished second in the 200 and finished third in the pole vault (8-6).

Emily Mitchell, York, senior sprints/jumps: Won Class B titles in the 200 (25.65) and long jump (17-63⁄4), finished second in the 100 and ran a leg on York’s state championship 400 relay.

Keila Grigware, Biddeford, senior throws: Set a Class A record of 131-10 in the javelin, and finished third in the shot put and fifth in the discus.

Maria Curit, Biddeford, senior sprints/jumps: Set a Class A record of 18-13⁄4 in the long jump and also won the 400 (57.81).

Abby Mace, Maranacook, junior distance: Won Class C titles in the 1,600 (5:19.76) and 3,200 (11:37.89) for the third consecutive year.

Nikki Taylor, York, senior throws/sprints: Won the Class B title in the shot put (41-01⁄2), ran a leg on York’s state championship 400 relay and third-place 1,600 relay teams, and was seventh in the discus.

Caroline Summa, Cheverus, senior jumps/sprints: Won her second Class A championship in the high jump (5-2) and ran a leg on Cheverus’ fourth-place 1,600 relay and sixth-place 400 relay teams.

Coach of the year

Larissa Simonds, Traip Academy: Simonds worked with a small team and no on-campus training facilities, but coached the Rangers to their first Class C championship since 1994, ending John Bapst’s run of three titles. The Rangers also won the Western Maine Conference Division II championship.

But during the course of the Class C meet at Bath's McMann Field, she discovered that the Rangers had a strong chance of winning the team championship. At that point, O'Brien took it upon herself to rally her teammates.

"None of us expected this," said O'Brien, who will compete next year at Keene State in New Hampshire. "We had 12 really strong girls at states, compared to all the other (larger) teams. We all knew we had to work hard, and we had harder practices, put in more time and created more of a focus for ourselves."

O'Brien won two events at the Class C championships -- the 100 hurdles (15.88 seconds) and the long jump (16 feet, 8 1/4 inches). She also finished second in the triple jump and anchored Traip's winning 400-meter relay team, helping to score 38 points as the Rangers edged John Bapst, which had won eight of the last nine championships.

O'Brien finished her high school career with five individual state championships -- one Class B title in indoor track and four Class C titles in outdoor track. But Traip Coach Larissa Simonds knew this year was O'Brien's best opportunity to prove herself and be successful against the competition.

"She's grown as an athlete and she's gotten stronger physically," Simonds said. "This year, it was all coming together. She was peaking this year. She was ready for it. She'd won state championships, but for her to win four events (in indoor and outdoor track) was an incredible thing."

At the Class C championship meet, O'Brien's motivation wasn't just a product of the day. During the season, she established herself as a leader and, in some ways, as a coach by extension, working with a handful of hurdlers at Traip.

"Carley really stepped up," Simonds said. "She encouraged them, she helped them with technique and workouts. She stepped up as a leader, and she's a person that realizes she's a good athlete, but she realized that the team has to win as a team."

O'Brien's senior year was a far cry from when she first went out for track as a freshman. Back then, she was the lone hurdler on a small team.

"As a freshman, she started out solo and I don't think she had that kind of support," Simonds said. "She stepped into the role and took it on as a senior. She came in with the mentality of, 'I've got talent, but I can share it and help these girls get better.' "

In that role, O'Brien felt more of a focus on her.

"I had a lot of people looking up to me," O'Brien said. "It was pressure, and it's good to have it and it helps people to drive harder. And sometimes I felt like a coach, too, helping others. It meant so much. Before that, I never really thought of myself as a leader."

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

rlenzi@pressherald.com

Twitter: rlenzi

 

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