Nyagoa Bayak earned a starting position on Westbrook’s basketball team during her first varsity season. And basketball wasn’t even her best winter sport.

Bayak also won state and New England titles in the high jump while setting a state record of 5 feet, 7 inches, even though she had little time to train. For much of the season, she was ranked fifth in the nation in the high jump.

That’s why Bayak, a freshman, is the Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ indoor track Athlete of the Year.

Four female athletes were double-winners at the two state meets this indoor season, and one won three events (Orono’s Tia Tardy). But Bayak was the only Mainer to win a New England title.

Those accomplishments came despite the fact that she devoted much of her time to basketball. Westbrook jumps coach Andy Lefebvre said most of Bayak’s high jump training happened at meets, because she worked track in around basketball practice and games. Lefebvre would tell Bayak during meets how to adjust her form or approach, and she would make the adjustment on the fly.

Bayak went into the Class A state meet with her sights set on the indoor state record of 5-61/4 set by Bangor’s Grace MacLean in 2010. She got it by clearing 5-7.

Then she went to the New England championships on Feb. 28 as the top-ranked jumper. After securing the New England title, she went after the Maine all-time best record of 5-9, set by Messalonskee’s Jesse Lebreck in 2008.

But the composure and maturity Bayak has shown throughout her freshman season gave way to a moment of complete exuberance.

“It was typical 14-year-old nerves,” Westbrook Coach Tim Even said. “When she got to 5-8, she was so ecstatic she won she couldn’t get her nerves under control. Her three attempts all happened within two minutes.

“I think the reason that happened at New Englands was for the first time, she was in this huge meet environment jumping for a championship. There are so many factors that go into making you jump well. I think her not being able to practice definitely affects her.”

Still, Bayak didn’t let the nerves of being a novice varsity athlete get in the way of her collecting two major titles and a state record.

“She definitely handled it pretty well and was able to overcome her nerves and have success,” Even said.

TELEGRAM ALL-STATE TEAM

Nyagoa Bayak, Westbrook freshman, jumps: Won the Class A high jump with a state record of 5-7, then captured the New England title at the same height. For much of the season, Bayak ranked sixth in the nation in the high jump.

Anna Beaudet, Edward Little senior, sprints: Took second in the 55 meters (7.41) and third in the 200 (26.79) at the Class A state meet and also ran a leg on the winning 800 relay (1:48.60) that gave Edward Little its first indoor team championship. The same relay team also ran a Maine all-best time of 1:47.70 at the New England meet.

Emma Egan, Yarmouth senior, sprints/jumps: Broke her own Class B state record with a high jump of 5-6 to repeat as champion, and also won the 55 (7.46) and took third in the 200 (27.20). Egan finished second in the high jump (5-5) at the New England championships and sixth at the New Balance nationals (5-51/4) to earn All-America status.

Katherine Leggat-Barr, Greely junior, distance: Runner-up in both the mile (5:14.30) and the 2-mile (11:32.11) at the Class B state meet. Ran a state-leading 11:14.44 in the 2-mile to finish 12th at the New England championships.

Maddy Price, Skowhegan senior, sprints/jumps: Was a double-winner at the Class A state meet, winning the 55 by a hundredth of a second (7.40) and soaring to a state-leading mark of 35-63/4 in the triple jump.

Elisabeth Redwood, Bonny Eagle senior, sprints: Won the 200 (26.32) at the Class A state meet and finished second in the 400 (58.74). Earlier in the season, she set an all-time Maine best in the 400 (57.52). Redwood finished sixth in the 600 (1:35.45) at the New England meet.

Anna Slager, Gorham sophomore, distance: Was a double-winner at the Class A state meet, capturing the 1-mile by 10 seconds (5:19.23) and also winning the 2-mile (11:27.70). Earlier in the season, she ran a 5:14.34 mile.

Lauren Stoops, Orono senior, sprints/hurdles: Stoops won the hurdles (8.70) and 200 (26.68) and was the runner-up in the 55 (7.49) at the Class B meet to help lift Orono to its first state championship.

Tia Tardy, Orono junior, distance: Won three events at the Class B state meet – 800 (2:23.24), mile (5:10.46) and 2-mile (11:30.72). At the EMITL championships, Tardy became the second fastest indoor miler in state history, posting a time of 4:55.23.

Emily Turner, Cheverus junior, sprints: Captured the 400 (58.47) at the Class A meet and was the runner-up in the 200 (26.64). Finished 11th at the New England championships in the 300 (41.16).

Coach of the Year

Chris Libby, Orono: Guided the Red Riots to their first Class B indoor state championship, as Orono won seven of 14 events to capture the title with ease, 87-65 over Greely. The indoor championship comes after Orono won four consecutive Class C state championships outdoors.

– Deirdre Fleming


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