The University of Southern Maine women’s track team continues to be at its best in the big meets.

The Huskies recently swept the Little East Conference and New England Alliance championships for a remarkable 15th consecutive year. Last weekend, they finished third in the New England Division III championships, the program’s best finish in that meet.

“I guess it just shows how much people are dedicated to the sport,” said senior Peyton Dostie of Standish (Bonny Eagle High). “Everyone does their part to make that happen. We’re all asked to do more events than in regular season meets and it’s worth it.”

George Towle, the head coach of the Huskies’ women’s program for 29 years, said his athletes have been able to stay ahead of the competition, which has improved greatly over 15 years.

“I think the culture is pretty well ingrained,” he said. “There are certain expectations – if they’re going to stick around, they’re going to work. I think they just all kind of feed off each other. All in all, I think they just do their best. And the results certainly back that up.”

Towle said his coaching staff – assistants Mike Drummey, Jim Giroux and Becky O’Brien – are big factors with their expertise. “I really am fortunate to have them,” he said.

And it helps to have great athletes, like Dostie, who transferred to USM from St. Joseph’s College after her freshman year. She plays field hockey in the fall and was the LEC offensive player of the year. Last Friday, she won the pentathlon at the New England Division III championships, scoring a meet and school-record 3,444 points. The pentathlon consists of five events: the 60-meter hurdles (in which she set a school record at 8.92 seconds), high jump, shot put, long jump (where she had the best mark at 17 feet, 61/4 inches) and 800 meters (in which she ran the fastest time, 2:19.94).

“It meant a lot to win that,” said Dostie. “I was hoping to get into that 3,400 score, but I didn’t think I would do it at that meet. I think just taking (it) event by event helped. I wasn’t thinking two hours out, how I would do in the shot put. That really helped.”

Towle said Dostie’s natural ability is a big factor in her success.

“We preach versatility when people arrive, but people like Peyton arrive talented,” he said. “Obviously she’s got some innate ability that some of her peers weren’t born with. But she’s Peyton. She doesn’t miss practice, she works hard. She was born with talent, but she works hard to develop it too.

“And so do everyone else on the team.”

That’s the thing about the Huskies. They have depth. In their third-place finish in the New Englands, Dostie also finished sixth in the long jump.

Junior Nicole Kirk of Scarborough won the 200 (25.76 seconds), finished fourth in the 60-meter dash and ran the leadoff leg in the winning 4×200 relay team.

Junior Hannah Damron of Windham was sixth in the 800. Sophomore Ashley Belanger of Biddeford was fourth in the shot put, while junior Sabrina Sodders of Alstead, New Hampshire, was fifth.

“Going into meets like that, we know if we do what we can in our events, that’s all anyone can ask of us,” said Dostie. “Everyone just has confidence knowing that we have trained for this day.”

The USM men’s team has had success of its own. The Huskies won the LEC title for the fifth time in seven years. They finished second in the New England Alliance and a program-best fourth at the New Englands.

Seniors Kevin Desmond of Monmouth and Jamie Ruginski of Buxton (Bonny Eagle) won individual titles at the New Englands: Desmond in the 800 (1:54.20) and Ruginski in the long jump (23-23/4). Junior Zach Miller of Rochester, New Hampshire, set a school record in the 60 (6.99) to finish third. Desmond, who anchored the winning 4×400 relay team, was named LEC track athlete of the week.

Freshman Ron Helderman of Madison was named LEC field rookie of the week after he finished second in the pole vault.

The Huskies will compete in the Open New Englands, a two-day event starting Friday at Boston University.


Portland’s Peter Donato, a junior at Colby-Sawyer College, was named North Atlantic Conference player of the year in a vote of the league’s coaches.

Donato, who was also chosen as the NAC’s top defensive player, is averaging 15 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

 Bowdoin College junior guard Lucas Hausman of Westport, Connecticut, was named New England Small College Athletic Conference men’s player of the week for the third straight week – the first time in league history a player has won the honor three times in a row. Hausman scored 37 points – 25 in the second half – in an 87-74 comeback victory over Williams in the NESCAC quarterfinals.

 Bentley University senior guard Keegan Hyland of South Portland was selected to the Capital One NCAA Division II men’s Academic All-America first team.

Hyland, who has one more year of eligibility, averaged 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists, and has a 3.93 grade-point average as an economics/finance major.

Hyland was named to the Northeast-10 third-team as well. He was joined by junior forward Tyler McFarland of Rockport (Camden Hills), who was named to the Northeast-10 second team. McFarland averaged 19.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

Bentley finished 15-12.


USM freshman goalie Kyle Shapiro of Ocean, New Jersey, was named to the ECAC East men’s all-rookie team. Shapiro played in 23 games with a 4-18 record, 3.46 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.

 Bowdoin senior forward Connor Quinn of Sudbury, Massachusetts, is one of 18 semifinalists for the Joe Concannon College Hockey Award, given by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston to the best American-born player at a New England Division II or III college. Quinn leads the Polar Bears with 10 goals and 13 assists, including three power-play goals and two shorthanded goals.