Scarborough High’s Jayden Flaker, right, won the 55-meter hurdles during the 2020 Class A indoor track championships at the University of Southern Maine. Flaker will compete in the 60-meter hurdles at the Adidas Indoor Nationals this weekend in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

More than a dozen high school athletes from Maine will travel to the Adidas Indoor Track & Field National Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia, this weekend for the chance to compete against the nation’s best.

For many, it will be their first competition in a year. Maine’s outdoor track and field season was canceled last spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, and there have been no indoor meets in the state this winter.

The national meet, which will be held Friday through Sunday at the Virginia Beach Sports Center, replaces the New Balance Indoor National Championships in New York, which were canceled because of the pandemic. Seven boys and seven girls from Maine will compete in individual events, many using qualifying marks a year or two old.

“This year is very different, obviously in how limited we are able to practice as a team. It hasn’t been the best to train by myself. I’d rather have my teammates to run alongside,” said Thornton Academy junior Mia-Claire Kezal, who will run in the championship 800 meters. “Still, I’m very excited to have this opportunity. I’m hoping for a big PR. I’m excited. I’m nervous. But I’m ready to race.”

Based on the top marks of Maine’s athletes, none are expected to reach the podium or earn All-American honors. But at least one – Scarborough junior Jayden Flaker – could set an all-time Maine record. And many others, like Kezal, hope to post marks that in past years would have won a state title.

Flaker finished third in the 60-meter hurdles at the East Coast Invitational in Virginia Beach earlier this month with a time of 8.23 seconds – just shy of the all-time Maine record of 8.22 set by Devin Belanger of Biddeford in 2005. Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux said Flaker should break the record.

Gorham senior Ryan Gendron will be looking to better the 6-foot-4 mark that earned him second place in the high jump at the Class A indoor state meet last year, when Samuel Cenescar of Brunswick reached 6-4 with fewer jumps.

Kezal hopes to post a mark that would better the winning time in the 800 at the Class A indoor state meet last year, when Anna Folley of South Portland set a Class A record with a time of 2:16.06. Kezal took second in 2:17.44.

Kezal, who competed at a meet in Virginia Beach earlier this winter, said meets during the pandemic are very different. Athletes are restricted to where they can go and must wear masks at all times, except when racing. But Kezal, who trained all winter on the roads around her Saco home, said racing is still the same.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Kezal said. “My heart goes out to the seniors who missed the past two seasons.”

Others from southern Maine scheduled to compete at the meet’s championship level include Andrew Farr of Gorham in the boys’ 60 meters; Zach Barry of Scarborough in the boys’ 800; Delaney Hesler of Bonny Eagle in the girls’ two mile; Emma Green of Gorham in the girls’ high jump; Zoe Barnes of Gray-New Gloucester in the girls’ shot put; and the Scarborough boys’ sprint medley team.


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