WATERVILLE — In the corner of a crowded field house on the campus of Colby College on Friday night sat members of the Winslow girls indoor track team. The Black Raiders were cool and collected, having conversations and laughing with one another.
The team was loose and had every reason to be. In a room full of contenders, Winslow returns as the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B champions. And there’s reason to believe the Black Raiders could possibly repeat this season.
“We’re looking like we’re pretty strong,” Winslow junior Olivia Tiner said. “We’ve got some great girls returning, and some great ones joining the team. We’ve got some great athletes, so it’s a pretty optimistic viewpoint for our KVAC team.”
It all starts with Tiner, who has made a name for herself as one of the top female distance runners in the state. Last season, while still recovering from a case of shin splints that hindered her cross country season, she finished as the KVAC B champion in the mile and 2 mile. She also finished second in the 800-meter run at both the conference meet and the Class B championships.
But Winslow is full of top-notch talent. Among the returners is senior Willa Dolley, who finished third in Class B last year in the long jump, junior Denali Norris, who was second in the conference last season in the 55 hurdles, and senior Kaelyn Lakey, who finished fourth in the 400 and the 200 at the conference meet last year.
“We have Denali, who’s an amazing hurdler, we have Olivia, who is a great distance runner,” Dolley said. “I’m so psyched and so excited for KVACs.”
It’ll be no picnic, however, for the Black Raiders to repeat. Belfast finished just two points behind Winslow for the conference crown last season. Lawrence is a team routinely in the mix. And as an added wrinkle, Cony has dropped down to Class B from Class A this season. The Rams boast one of area’s top track athletes in Anna Reny, last year’s KVAC A champion in the 200.
With that much competition, it promises to be an exciting season in KVAC B.
”Belfast is going to be really strong, like they always are,” Winslow head coach Ken Nadeau said. “Waterville has some good pieces for Class B. I think everybody has a couple (athletes) here, a couple there, the key is, who can fill up the events twice? You want to have top-two scorers in as many events as you can.
“Class B is so big. We competed (last week) in Orono, and there were 13 teams. I think Cony, now that they’re down in B, they can do really well, with Anna Reny and some of the other girls that are there. I think it’s going to be whoever is best (the day of KVACs) like it always is.”