By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff
Posted May 28, 2016, at 7:44 p.m.
DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Lauren Stoops is known for her nurturing instincts around the Orono High School girls track and field team and as a senior is quite accepting of the description.
“It’s a give and take,” said the Red Riots’ veteran sprinter and hurdler. “You’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to take care of your teammates. A lot of people call me ‘Mom’ as a joke because it will be cold and I’ll tell someone to put on a sweatshirt or it will be sunny and I’ll ask if anyone needs sunscreen and if they need it I’ll put it on them.”
So it came as no surprise that after Stoops won three individual events and sparked Orono’s 4×400 relay team to a conference record Saturday that she was just as excited about the efforts of a younger teammate in helping the four-time defending Class C state champions to another Penobscot Valley Conference small-school championship.
“(Sophomore) Katie O’Brien got a bunch of PRs today, I was so proud of her,” said Stoops. “I’ve tried to take her under my wing and she did a fantastic job today.”
Orono dominated the girls and boys competitions during the meet at Oakes Field on the campus of Foxcroft Academy — the last event before the participating schools will return here next Saturday for the Class C state meet.
The Orono girls won a stunning 14 of the 19 individual events to total 237 points, nearly triple that of second-place George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (79.5). Caribou was third with 75 points, followed by Central of Corinth (61) and Bucksport (24) in the 14-school field.
Record-setting junior Jake Koffman won all three throwing events as the Red Riots cruised to a 194-103 victory over runner-up Caribou in the boys division, with Washington Academy of East Machias (64), George Stevens (60) and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (30) rounding out the top five.
Stoops and Washington Academy junior Michaiah Robinson, who swept the boys sprints, were named the meet’s outstanding performers while Orono’s Chris Libby was voted PVC small-school coach of the year for both boys and girls.
Stoops was on her game early in the meet, dipping below 13 seconds in the 100 dash for the first time this spring en route to finishing 1-2 with O’Brien in 12.94 seconds.
“When I saw my father (Kyle), he gave me the look and I knew I had done it,” said Stoops. “I always look at him because he’s always looking at the time.”
After winning the 300 hurdles in 46.57, Stoops’ time of 27.05 in the 200 led her and O’Brien to another 1-2 finish before she capped off her day as the first leg of a record-setting PVC 4×400 relay team that also featured juniors Becky Lopez-Anido, Kassidy Dill and Tia Tardy.
“I trust my girls,” said Stoops after Orono won the 4×800 in 4:07.29, 0.14 seconds faster than the Red Riots’ 2015 time. “I know they’re not going to give up on me or ever give a half-effort. I know they’re going to pour their hearts into the race so it’s comforting for me as a senior in my last PVCs to know they’re going to give it their all. That’s nice.”
Tardy, Orono’s star distance runner, also finished 1-2 with teammate Hannah Steelman in the 1,600 with a time of 5:03.40 and anchored the Red Riots’ 4×800 relay (9:52.23), teaming with Lopez-Anido, Steelman and Dill to win the day’s first event.
Senior Emma Honey won the long jump (15-11) and triple jump (32-9¾), while other Orono event winners were Kylie Gray in the 1,600 race walk (8:47.27), Lopez-Anido in the 800 (2:23.43), Steelman in the 3,200 (12:09.67), Lauren Melanson in the discus (98-6), Allison Pickering in the pole vault (10-0) and Pickering, Honey, O’Brien and freshman Camille Kohtala in the 4×100 relay (52.60).
Also crowned individual conference champions were Caribou’s JoJo Fields in the 100 hurdles (17.44), Central’s Sydney Allen in the 400 (1:01.15), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln’s Kelsey Kneeland in the high jump (4-8), Morgan Dauk of GSA in the javelin (112-9) and Bucksport’s Mavis Taungatu’a in the shot put (35-6¾).
Koffman, who will pursue an all-class state record in the discus next week, broke his own PVC record by more than 17 feet with a best of 179-6 — 53 feet farther than his nearest competition
“Things went pretty well. I’m happy I broke the record,” said Koffman, who threw a state-best 186-3 at a meet in Old Town two weeks ago. “I was looking to throw it a little further but I’m still really happy with what I did.”
Koffman also swept the javelin (156-11) and shot put (45-4½) — winning the shot while throwing with his opposite (left) hand due to a nagging right wrist injury that doesn’t bother him in his other events.
Keenan Collett and Stephen Nelson finished 1-2 in the 110 and 300 hurdles for Orono, with Collett winning the 110 and Nelson the victor in the 300.
The Red Riots also swept the relays. Jacob Fandel, Matt Keresey, Jonathan Steelman and Tristan Butterfield won the 4×800 in 8:29.72; Sam Honey, Collett, Nelson and Trent Lick were victorious in the 4×100 (45.67); and Butterfield anchored Honey, Tony Manev and Lick in the 4×400 (3:43.77).
Robinson broke a 21-year-old PVC record while winning the 400 in 50.16 and also won the 100 (11.30) and 200 (23.17).
Freshman Cayden Spencer-Thompson scored all of Mattanawcook’s points by winning all three jumping events. He won the high jump at 5-10, the long jump at 20-9 and the triple jump at 42-3¼.
GSA junior John Hassett shook off the heat to win the 800 in an impressive 1:58.98 after also triumphing in the 1,600 (4:36.19).
Other PVC boys champions were Evan Desmond of Caribou in the race walk (7:08.95), teammate Chatu Karunasiri in the 3,200 (11:06.55) and Bucksport pole vaulter Johann Bradley (13-0).