SACO — The Thornton Academy girls indoor track team had plenty of motivation to win the Class A state championship last year as the Trojans finished second by just a half-point the year before. There’s no demons for Thornton to exorcise this season, but that doesn’t mean the Trojans don’t still have their sights set on another state title.

“That’s the goal. Hopefully we’re going to stay healthy,” said Thornton head coach Lisa Huntress. “If we’re healthy, I think we’re going to be on the hunt for the state title.”

The Trojans were healthy at the end of the season last year, and a heavy dose of point scorers led them to the elusive title. The girls outdoor team then followed that up with a title of its own.

The names aren’t all the same this year, but many are, and many more new faces will be in line to help the Trojans try to complete their goal. Huntress said the team should score a lot of points in the junior division, which could be one of the keys in winning the Southwestern and state championships.

Those points will need to make up for what the Trojans lost in last year’s senior class. But Thornton will also have to replace the leadership of departed seniors Amanda Arnold, Kaeleigh Harrison and Kaitlin Hilton. Huntress said, however, that she thinks this year’s senior class can fill that void.

“What’s nice about it is, is that when you have people that role model so well, the expectation is pretty high for the captains coming in,” said Huntress. “This year, I can already tell, it kind of feels like we really haven’t missed a beat.”

The Trojans will again be versatile in where they get points from, and Huntress said the team has strengthened one of its only weaknesses as well.

“We definitely are strong-suited for different areas. Jumps, we’re really strong. Throws, really strong. Hurdles, really strong. Sprints, we’re in the mix,” said Huntress. “But this year I think what’s going to add to it is our distance.”

Thornton has two junior runners in Abby Runnells and Katie LeBlanc that will look to build on standout cross country seasons, and Huntress said that freshman Rachel Ouellette could also pick up some valuable points.

Where Huntress knows she will get points from is state champion and record-holder Tori Daigle, who will be defending her state title in the long jump this year, and who will be a consistent point-getter in both jumps (long and triple) as well as the hurdles and sprints.

“The one thing I always remember Tori by is she’s just that shy, humble athlete. She has got the highest expectations on herself; she likes to compete. She gets these goals in her head, and it’s been fun seeing her in these years to see her accomplish them,” said Huntress. “She’s as hard-working as ever, as positive as ever.”

The Trojans will be the favorites to win Southwesterns, and likely in the state championship meet as well. But they will get heavy competition from South Portland and Scarborough, and possibly Bonny Eagle and Gorham, said Huntress.

The desperation is no longer there for the Trojans, after finally winning the state title last year, but Huntress said her team is as motivated as ever to lift the trophy at the end of the season.

“I think the goal is going to be the same. I think they’re very driven, very focused,” said Huntress. “When you accomplish something like that, I think it just sets the stage for the next season to come.”

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



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