June 26, 2011

Boys' Track MVP: Terwilliger set the standard while running at the front

Jack Terwilliger reached a new level this year despite injuries and a lack of strong competition.

By Rachel Lenzi rlenzi@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Jack Terwilliger found a way to stay in front of every pack he ran against in every race he ran this spring, and finished his high school career by establishing himself as the state's top boys' distance runner.

click image to enlarge

Jack Terwilliger of Cheverus, the Maine Sunday Telegram boys' outdoor track and field MVP, was unbeaten in distance races during regular-season meets this spring.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


Jack Terwilliger, Cheverus, senior distance: The Maine Sunday Telegram MVP won Class A titles in the three distance events – the 800 (1:59.03), 1,600 (4:17.04) and 3,200 (9:39.06) – and finished the outdoor season undefeated in races in Maine.

Michael Burgess, Greely, senior throws: Won Class B titles in the shot put (52-7) and discus (147-6) and finished fourth in the javelin, then finished fifth in the shot put at the New England championships.

Mike Slovenski, Brunswick, senior pole vault: Won the New England championship in the pole vault, clearing 15-3, nearly 2 feet higher than his winning vault in the Class A championships.

Isaiah Spofford, Waterville, senior sprints/jumps: Won Class B titles in the 100 (11.08) and 200 (22.30) and finished second in the long jump and pole vault.

Jake Leitheiser, Old Town, senior hurdles, jumps: Won Class B titles in the 300 hurdles (38.73) and long jump (20-11.25), finished second in the high jump and ran a leg of Old Town’s second-place 1,600 relay.

Matt McClintock, Madison, junior distance: Won Class C titles in the 1,600 (4:28.09) and 3,200 (9:46.84)

Will Wegener, Falmouth, senior sprints: Won the Class B title in the 400 (49.82), ran a leg on the championship 1,600 relay, and finished second in the 200 and third in the 100.

Miguel Caballero, Orono, junior sprints: Won Class C titles in the 200 (22.94) and 400 (51.32), finished second in the 100 and ran a leg of Orono’s second-place 1,600 relay.

Imadhi Zagon, Portland, senior sprints/shot put: Won the Class A title in the 100 (11.52), and finished third in the shot put and fourth in the 200.

Adrian Reid, South Portland, senior sprints: Won the Class A title in the 200 (22.89), ran a leg on the state championship 400 relay and finished second in the 100.

Jeff Hale, Waterville, senior distance: Won Class B titles in the 1,600 (4:31.94) and 3,200 (9:56.10).

Chris Pelletier, Maranacook, senior sprints/jumps: Won the Class C title in the long jump (44-93⁄4), and finished second in the long jump, and fifth in the 100.

Coach of the year

Greg Wilkinson, Bonny Eagle: Teaming with his brother, John, Wilkinson guided the Scots to their second Class A championship in the last three years. Bonny Eagle won the state title with a third-place finish in the last event of the day, the 400 relay, but counted on its depth throughout the meet.

Could it have gotten any better? To the naked eye, no. But Terwilliger took the perfectionist's approach when he evaluated his season.

"My top goal, which I didn't get, was the state record in the mile," Terwilliger said.

Nevertheless, the Cheverus graduate set this season's standard for high school distance running. Undefeated in every regular-season race, Terwilliger, the Maine Sunday Telegram boys' outdoor track and field MVP, won three events at the Class A outdoor championships: the 800 (1 minute, 59.03 seconds), the 1,600 (4:17.04 -- Portland's Sintayehu Taye set the Class A record of 4:09.69 in 2005) and the 3,200 (9:39.06).

In past years, Terwilliger was part of a cluster of talented distance runners, joining former standouts Will Geoghegan and Liam Cassidy of Brunswick, Henry Sterling of North Yarmouth Academy and Luke Fontaine of Cony, runners who typically led the pack Terwilliger ran in. He took a distinct approach to being one of the state's standouts this season.

"I kind of knew the competition in the state wasn't what it was last year," said Terwilliger, who will run at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. "Last year there were a lot of guys that broke 4:20 (in the mile), and I ended up being the only one this year. I knew I'd be alone in the races I ran, but it was about getting the times for myself and trying to maintain my focus.

"It was harder than last year. This year, it was about staying ahead of the competition. Last year, it was about reaching for the competition ahead of me."

"If I led, it was because I was going faster than the guy behind me."

Terwilliger competed in the Class A cross country championships despite missing most of the fall as a result of iliotibial band syndrome (an inflammation of the tissue that runs between the knee and hip, down the side of each leg), then won two events at the Class A indoor championships. Terwilliger dominated in outdoor track, fighting off the lingering effects of an illness that nagged him through most of May, as well as a hamstring injury from the end of indoor track season.

"It wasn't a big problem," Terwilliger said of the hamstring injury. "But I don't think I took as much time as I could have off. I was a bit irrational about it and I went into outdoor training too hard."

During the indoor and outdoor seasons, Terwilliger trained on a schedule designed to reduce his mileage. He also did a lot of cross training. The regimen was designed by Coach Steve Virgilio and was aimed at helping Terwilliger remain healthy over the course of the spring.

"Most of my mileage was low, but I did it quickly at about a 6-minute-a-mile pace," Terwilliger said. "Once I decreased my mileage, I was fine and I didn't want to risk upping my mileage again."

What stood out to Virgilio about Terwilliger more than his physical capacity was his psychological makeup.

"Some athletes battle with competition anxiety and fears, and that doesn't bother Jack," Virgilio said. "That's what's so impressive about him as an athlete and as a competitor.

"Everyone knows he's one of the best runners in the state. Other athletes don't have the competitive edge or the focus he has, but he also has the humility.

"The way he came into his own this season was having that approach, that character and that mentality. And he knows that if he does lose, it's not the end."

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


Twitter: rlenzi


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