Houlton relay team brings home state championship

Season ends well for Houlton athletes

The Houlton track team’s historic season came to an end Saturday at the 2021 Maine State Championships in Brewer.
“Our kids have turned out meet after meet pushing their limits every time and this meet was no exception,” said Houlton coach Chris Rines.
New personal bests were set, a few school records broken, a couple podium finishes, and a state championship winning 4x400m relay win was earned.
First, for the team scoring, the Houlton girl’s squad managed to put up 32 team points and that earned them sixth place overall out of the 47 schools represented at the meet.
“This was both the greatest number of points scored at states for us and our highest placing in the team standings,” Rines said.
The Boy’s tandem of Jeremy Stone and Daniel Ross were unfortunately unable to land any scoring positions on the day although coming close in just about every event they were entered in.
Kaitlyn Kenney was the first Shire up to score in the girl’s javelin.  She threw 88’5″, just two inches shy of her personal best, for a seventh-place podium finish earning one point overall.  After the javelin, Houlton had a bit of a lull in the scoring as they faced a few heartbreaks along the way.  Teammate Joely Stone also threw to a new personal best in the event, breaking 70′ for the first time this year.
Houlton high jumpers Emmalyne Drake, Elena Ardell, and Hope Royal faced a difficult field of jumpers and the bar started at their qualifying heights.  Drakek was able to clear the bar once but was unable to advance.  Royal and Ardell were unable to make the entry mark.
On the track, Emma Ardell and Sam Johnson fell just a few hundredths of a second in their preliminary 100m Hurdle and 100m Dash (respectively) to make a finals race in the events.  Ardell finished 10th overall in the preliminaries while Johnson was first girl out (9th) in the dash prelim.
“Not being in the finals hurt as these are two events that we usually have points in,” Rines explained. “About this time, Kenney and Stone had been competing in the shot put and both failed to make the finals in that event.  The jumps started to become a waiting game at this time as athletes were checking in and out of the events to get to their track events.

Freshman Ariana Ardell had been able to match her career bests in each of the Long, Triple, and Pole Vault events, but was never able to get on a hot streak as the order of jumpers and waiting forced her to have too much time in between attempts and ‘cool off’ in a performance sense.  The sun,

Ariana Ardell jumping into the pit for her best finish of the day in the Long Jump.

heat, and humidity were unrelenting though, and these conditions were also zapping strength and energy,” added Rines.

Finally, after some time, Houlton’s luck seemed to take a turn for the better.
“Our distance crew turned out some amazing performances on the track, and although they were non-scoring in these events, their efforts did not go unnoticed,” said Rines.
Drake and Leanne Ross, as well as Jeremy Stone and Daniel Ross blazed through their 1600m races and provided the spark we needed to get back on track.
The 400meter dash that followed the 1600s saw Sam Johnson race to a silver medal in the event with a 1:02.17 which broke Mia Hanning’s school record by more than a half-second.  She was joined on the podium by the twins Isabella Ardell (6th) and Elena Ardell (7th).
Next up were Emma Ardell and Leann Ross in the 300 hurdles.  Emma was able to rebound from the 100m hurdle and poured everything she had into this race.  She ran to a 4th place finish overall and for the first time in her career broke the 50 second barrier which further lowered her school record.
Back in the jumps it was Jeremy Stone’s turn for triple, he was able to jump to his career-best distance and a new GHCA school record of 34’5.25″.
Jeremy Stone setting the GHCA Triple Jump School Record with a leap of 34’5.25″.
The 800m run had Emmalyne and Elena back on the track.
“Elena ran possibly the best-paced race I think she has ever done, being patient, waiting for that second lap and then going out and attacking the field,”said Rines.
She went from last in her heat to finishing with a new personal best time of 2:31.47, a 4th place finish, and breaking her current school record in the 800 by more than 5 seconds.
In the 200, Sam John took back to the track and blew away her heat with a 28.43, which is now her new career-best time, the first she has under 29 seconds.  Good enough for a podium finish 7th place.
Emmalyne Drake pushes hard in the 800 meter run.
In the 3200m run Leann Ross fought against a tough field and the elements for probably the hardest earned point of the meet.  The freshman came out smart and kept her composure the whole race for a finishing time of 13:51.64 and 7th place on the podium.

Then the highlight of the meet, our girls in the 4×400, Isabella Ardell, Sam

Johnson, Elena Ardell, and Emma Ardell got their chance to take on the 4x400m Relay.  Two years ago, the same team as freshmen and a sophomore (Emma) put up an amazing time of 4:20 at Mt. Blue in the state championships of 2019.  They fell just short with a 2nd place performance that day.

Kaitlyn Kenney throwing her 7th place throw of 88’2.”
The finish of the 400m dash, Sam Johnson overtaking 3rd place (Bucksport) and Elena Ardell vying for a podium place. Cut off in lane 8 is Isabella Ardell, who would finish 6th.

It was a long wait with the 2020 season being canceled last year but they were ready.  Isabella was our lead and came into the hand-off third to strong lead legs from Winslow and GSA.  She handed off the baton to Sam Johnson and by the middle of her lap Sam had not only made the difference up, she took the lead and created space.  The handoff to Elena was smooth and Elena never looked back.  Elena furthered the lead over second-place and handed it off to big sister, Emma.  In the last lap of the last event of her high school career, Emma carried the baton over the line in a new school record and state championship-winning time of 4:19.39.

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