SACO — The Thornton Academy girls indoor track team was able to defend its Southwesterns championship title on Saturday, as the Trojans outpointed Scarborough, Cheverus and the rest of the SMAA.

While the Trojans were happy with their repeat conference title, they have bigger fish to fry, and demons to overcome. Thornton wants to improve on its second place finish at the state championships last year, when the Trojans lost to Bangor by half a point.

“We want to rectify last year’s outcome,” said Thornton head coach Lisa Huntress.

Huntress said her team has some obvious motivation for next Monday’s state meet at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

“Of course the drive is there. This is a very competitive team,” said Huntress. “We don’t try to talk about it a lot, but you can tell it’s just a silent language that we’re all speaking, and we hope for the best (next Monday).”

The Trojans were led last Saturday by junior Tori Daigle, who Huntress called “one of the top competitors in the state.” Daigle, who was named the senior division MVP at Southwesterns, won both the long jump and 55-meter hurdles, and placed second in the 200-meter dash ”“ Huntress said a bad start foiled what could have been a first-place finish.

Thornton will need Daigle to be at her best again, as well as the other 14 individual competitors that qualified for the state meet. Huntress said that having more depth than she’s had in years past should help the Trojans’ chances.

“Kind of what’s unique about this is that we’re tops in a lot of the events, but we also have depth in the events, too, which is kind of nice. The jumping is very strong for us. Throws is very strong. Hurdles is very strong. And we’re deep in all three events,” said Huntress. “We’re typically stronger in field than we are in track, but this year we’re pretty well balanced. We’ve got the sprints covered, which is a change. Where we suffer the most is the middle distance.

“Everyone’s really going to need to go and do exactly what they did this week. And the outcome should be good.”

The Trojans could gain many valuable points from the jumping events, where in addition to Daigle, they have Allie Pettaway (senior division triple jump champion at Southwesterns), Amanda Arnold (second in long jump and third in triple jump) and Olivia Libby (junior division triple jump champion). Arnold also had a third-place finish in the 55 hurdles, and Pettaway took second in the 55-meter dash.

Kaeleigh Harrison will look to repeat her Southwesterns performance in the shot put ”“ where her season-best throw of 35-feet, 5 1/2-inches won the senior division and earned her senior field MVP ”“ at states. Teammate Gabby Capozzi finished fourth at Southwesterns with her own season-best throw, and could add some points for the Trojans in the event.

“It’s such a great group of kids ”“ and I could say this every year ”“ but this group is just, they’re just awesome,” said Huntress. “They are competitive in an enlightening way, because they’re just determined. It’s not a cockiness; it’s kind of a humble ”¦ there’s just a silence about them.”

Huntress admitted that her team is the favorite to win the state title, even if it’s an unenviable spot to be in. In addition to Scarborough and Cheverus, Huntress said fellow SMAA competitor Bonny Eagle could place well, as well as KVAC competitor Messalonskee. Huntress said she was also anxious to see what teams from the EMITL ”“ such as Bangor ”“ have to bring, as they didn’t get the chance to compete as much as the SMAA teams because the University of Maine field house in Orono that they hold meets at was under construction for the early part of the season.

As much competition as Thornton will have, Huntress said her athletes need to focus on themselves and their events, and trust their abilities in order to take home the state title.

“I think if we go and perform the way we did Saturday, I think it’s going to be favorable,” she said. “Anything’s possible. I do hope that we go and get the job done.”

Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.

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