An estimated 1,000 athletes will make their way to the Taylor Harmon Track at Cony High School in Augusta on Saturday for the USA Track and Field-Maine Association 14 and Under Track and Field Championship.

Mark Dennett, event organizer and head coach of the Lakers Track Club — which involves athletes from the Cony, Maranacook and Hall-Dale school districts — said athletes from about 35 different Maine programs will be participating.

“It’s awesome to see (the event) grow,” Dennett said. “The meet (attendance) fluctuates from year to year, depending on location. But I think the smallest we had was (in the 900s). And we’ve had up to 1,200. The fact that we get in, and it’s done in that one day is awesome.”

Dennett said the one-day event doesn’t come without a slight headache or two.

“It’s a long day for families. My wife and kids experience it, too,” Dennett joked. “But there’s a lot of families that come and watch it, too, so there’s always a big turnout for it.”

Owen Libby, of Skowhegan, left, and Cameron Akoa, of Winslow, compete in the boys 11-12 80-meter hurdles during the USATF-Maine Group C Qualifier on Aug. 3 at the Taylor Harmon Track in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It’s also a showcase of how large the participation level for the sport continues to be within the state, a welcome sight for Gardiner coach Jen Boudreau and Winslow coach Ken Nadeau, both of whom run high school programs.


“To see the numbers for track still there, that makes me really happy,” Boudreau said.

“The numbers are really, really good,” said Nadeau, who also has athletes from the Waterville, Messalonskee and Lawrence school districts on his Winslow youth roster. “My group especially, this year, has had a lot of high level competition. I feel like our group was really strong this year compared to some (teams) in the past.”

Boudreau will have several athletes in the mix for titles on Saturday, but thanks to the success of recent Gardiner High School senior Ashlyn Poulin, who set a state record in the spring in the race walk, new up-and-coming athletes in Gardiner are also taking to the event, led by Natalie Grant in the 13-14 year-old division.

“She’s killing it in race walk, she’s my (new) Ashlyn Poulin,” Boudreau said. “I have definitely lucked out in that area. Natalie is gunning for everything that Ashlyn achieved, and I think she has (that skill). As long as she can continue to keep focus and avoid injury, she’s going to do great.”

Boudreau also listed Ashlyn Poulin’s brother, Ian Poulin, as a potential standout in the race walk as well.

“He’s keeping the race walk alive in the family on the middle school scene,” Boudreau said.


Liam Bureau of Winthrop finished second with a leap of 12 feet and 5.50 inches in boys 11-12 long jump during the USATF-Maine Group C Qualifier on Aug. 3 in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Nadeau said he’s been thrilled with the amount of standout athletes this season for Winslow, listing Cooper Grant (shot put), Oliver Brown (jumps), Larsen Ronco (triple jump) and Trafton Nadeau (javelin) and Zach Katz (sprints) as some of the top boys athletes on the team. Grant, Brown, Ronco and Katz will also be expected to run in the relays. On the girls side, Nadeau has Violet Engleright, Rory Costigan (high jump), Sovie Rau (sprints), Davanee Kimball, Jocelyn Parsons, Ruby Beers (sprints, jumps), Amiley McLaughlin (javelin, hurdles, relay) and Mackenzie Williams as potential standouts on Saturday.

“I had 65 (athletes) at the qualifier and 50 made it (to states),” Nadeau said.

Winthrop will be among the teams participating at the meet. Nadeau said Skowhegan could potentially have a breakout day, especially on the girls side.

“The Skowhegan girls should be a contender, they are amazing,” Nadeau said.

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