Hosting a state racetrack meeting has been a dream for Bangor for a decade
Cameron Stadium in Bangor will host the Class A Athletics Championship meeting for the first time in more than two decades on Saturday.
And as much as athletes from the state’s largest high schools are looking forward to testing themselves on the new eight-lane track and adjacent field event areas, the fastest person in the stadium may not be one of the competitors.
That honor could go to Bangor High School’s longtime sports administrator, Steve Vanidestine, who is tasked with overseeing the event, troubleshooting and ensuring nothing was forgotten that would prevent it from running smoothly.
“In the beginning I will be like a chicken with its head cut off, running around checking everything, but hopefully I can relax and watch [the meet],” he said.
The Class A event is one of three state track championships taking place across the state on Saturday at 10 a.m. with Class B competition for Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor and Class C athletes at Lewiston High School occur .
Cameron Stadium in Bangor was a regular host of state-level interscholastic athletics meetings for many years after the construction of its grandstand in 1944.
But over the decades, the facility’s track and grandstand began to deteriorate, and by the late 1990s the existing six-lane track was no longer suitable for regional and state competitions.
A plan to refurbish the stadium was announced in 2010, and over the next decade a $5 million, three-stage project involved replacing the grandstand and installing a state-of-the-art eight-lane track and an artificial turf field and building dressing rooms on site.
The newly completed Cameron Stadium began hosting events on the grass last fall and crowned its first state champion in November when Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft defeated Winthrop/Monmouth Academy/Hall-Dale 19-16 to earn the Class D win football title.
Bangor’s request to host the 2022 Class A State Athletics Championships as the capstone of the new Cameron Stadium’s inaugural year was approved by the Maine Principals’ Association, allowing Vanidestine to lead efforts to ensure the stadium was ready for the event in this spring.
A major step came last Saturday when Cameron Stadium hosted the Penobscot Valley Conference major school track championships, a meeting that also served as a sort of dress rehearsal for Bangor’s effort to host the state convention a week later.
“It was important because when we asked the MPA to consider us as a venue for the Class A State Track Championship, we also asked the PVC if we could host this meeting as it would be a great opportunity for us to have a to do a dry run with a big meeting,” said Vanidestine.
“There were some things that we took note of and improved, and we will continually try to keep improving things over time.”
Bangor High School is the defending Class A outdoor track champion and two-time reigning Class A indoor track state champion, and coach Alan Mosca’s girls team is among the title favorites again this year.
One of Bangor’s main challengers lately, both indoors and out, has been Gorham and Saturday’s title hunt looks set to be another clash between the two Rams of the same moniker.
Bangor is led by junior sprinter Anna Connors, who set a state record when she won 200th place at last year’s state meet with a time of 24.51 seconds. She also surpassed the old state mark with a time of 12.11 seconds in the 100 while finishing second in that event, behind Portland’s Cheverus High School’s Victoria Bossong, who had a time of 11.81.
Connors finished second in the 400 at the 2021 state meeting behind Bossong – who is now running at Harvard – and she will be one of the favorites in all three sprints this year as she finishes first in the 400 and second in the 100 and 200 behind Gorham Senior Emma Green.
Bangor also has a top distance runner in senior Megan Randall, while Gorham’s points production is aided by senior Alyvia Caruso, top seed in the triple jump and long jump and runner-up in the 100 hurdles.
Two-time defending champion Scarborough is favored to retain the Class A boys’ title, led by senior Jayden Flaker, who leads the 110 hurdles and is an anchor of Red Storm’s No. 1 4×100 relay team. Flaker also ranks second in the 300 hurdles and is part of a third-seeded 4×400 relay tandem.
The boys’ meeting may also include an attack on state records for the 100-meter dash. Flaker holds the overall state mark at 10.71 seconds, but he won’t be in the field vying for the Class A state meeting record of 10.80 seconds set a year ago by Bonny Eagle High School’s Aidan Walcott was erected in Standish.
Walcott is the top-ranked runner in this year’s state field after running a 10.73 at last weekend’s Southwestern Maine Activities Association Championships, held at Falmouth High School.
He’s being challenged by Gorham’s Andrew Farr, who ran a 10.74 in the same race, and Portland’s Cheverus High School’s Frank Morang, who finished third with a 10.83.
Whether any of the three will be able to smash either of the two records set at Cameron Stadium remains to be seen, in part because Vanidestine expects the wind picking up by race time for the boys’ 100m final at 12 :45 a.m. will come from the south, meaning the sprinters could face headwinds.
But whether or not state records are broken this weekend, Vanidestine sees the chance to host Saturday’s Class A meeting as an opportunity that’s been a decade in the making, and just one of many uses for a stadium that designed for multiple sports as well as other less competitive sports Used.
“To see the kids compete on this track and to be proud of their facility meant everything,” he said, “and even outside of business hours you see people from the community park in the parking lot at Mount Hope [Avenue] and go down and run or do their runs.
“This is really great for the community – especially for the school-age children – but it’s also a great opportunity for the city to host events like this and we’re grateful for this opportunity.”