March 7, 2013

College Connections: Together at Greely and Bates, but not the nationals

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

James LePage knew his school-record 800-meter run for Bates College earned him a spot at this weekend's NCAA Division III track and field championships.

click image to enlarge

James LePage of Bates, a former Greely High track standout, is hoping to become an All-American in the 800 meters at the NCAA Division III championships this weekend.

Mike Bradley/Bates College

Until a few hours before the team left Wednesday for Naperville, Ill., LePage thought his run also created an NCAA spot for his hometown buddy and former Greely High teammate, Mark McCauley.

The plan was for McCauley to replace LePage as the 800 leg on Bates' distance medley relay team, which is looking to top last year's third-place finish.

Unfortunately for McCauley, a multitime indoor and outdoor state champion, he was hit with possible appendicitis.

"Unfortunately Mark is a no-go and we're taking John Stansel, a sophomore, instead," LePage said.

In high school, McCauley was a year behind LePage but usually a few strides ahead on the track. In LePage's senior season, he finished second to McCauley in the indoor and outdoor 800s. McCauley went on to set the state outdoor 800 record as a senior and went off to Columbia.

After a frustrating, injury-plagued freshman year, McCauley transferred to Bates midway through his sophomore year.

"He came to visit me and went to our State of Maine track meet," LePage said. "He saw how supportive our team was, how we were all standing and cheering for each other, and by the end of the meet he'd made his decision to transfer."

LePage has had the more successful college career.

"I've just been able to trim a second or two off my 800 time every year," LePage said. "I was pretty good as a freshman but by no means was I truly competitive in the NESCAC.

"I've really stepped up my training this year and one of the biggest things is I've been able to stay healthy. Just being with the guys I'm training with, you're getting better every day."

This season LePage broke Bates' 800-meter record with a time of 1:51.59 at Boston University's banked track. Ossie Chapman's converted 880-yard time of 1:51.74, set in 1930, had stood unmatched for 83 years.

It was LePage's third individual indoor record. Earlier this season he lowered his 600 record by over a second to 1:21.14. He also has the school 1,000-meter standard of 2:27.90.

Plus he's part of the indoor distance medley relay record and the outdoor 3,200 record.

He'll enter this weekend's 800-meter race seeded seventh with a converted "flat-track" time of 1:53.1.

"The fastest guy is 1:50 something. It's a strong field. If you put these guys in a race 10 times, you're probably going to get at least six different winners," LePage said.

LePage said his primary goal is to make it out of the second of Friday's two heats. The top two in each heat plus the next four fastest times qualify for Saturday's final.

"As an end goal this year I want to break 1:50 and hopefully this week to make the final and be an All-American," LePage said.

MEN'S BASKETBALL

Tyler McFarland of Rockport (Camden Hills), a freshman at Bentley University, set career highs with 29 points and 14 rebounds in a season-ending 81-70 win against UMass-Lowell. McFarland was named the Northeast-10 rookie of the week for a third straight time (fifth overall). He was on the NE-10 all-rookie team, and led Bentley in points (15.5), rebounds (8.4), blocks (30 total) and free-throw percentage (.835).

Bentley freshman Alex Furness of Wells started 10 games, averaging 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds. Sophomore Andrew Shaw of Saco (Thornton Academy) had his season cut short due to injury. He averaged 8.5 points in 12 games.

• Husson senior Eric Modica of Kittery (Traip Academy) scored 13 points with two rebounds, two assists and two steals in his final college game -- a loss to Plattsburgh State in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament Saturday. Husson went 20-9, its 42nd consecutive winning season. Modica tied for the team lead in scoring at 11.7 ppg.

(Continued on page 2)

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