It was a bittersweet day at the Caribou High School Track– after 37 years, the final Hershey Track and Field Northern qualifier took place.
“We’re kind of making it special this year and hoping that we get some great qualifiers to take them onto the national meet,” said Kathy Mazzuchelli, the Superintendent for the Caribou Parks and Rec Department.
Qualifiers like Holden Stoutamyer who has been to the national meet before, placing 5th in the long jump back in 2012.
“It was really stressful,” said Stoutamyer. “You get in line and there’s so many other people whose records are longer than yours and it’s just hard to deal with, but it’s fun.”
Holden is aiming for another national appearance, and by the looks of it, he was pretty pleased with how he did– jumping his personal goal of 7 feet. And he’s not the only one looking to do well today, some kids are looking to make their first trip to the North American Championships, and others are brand new to the competition.. All of them though agreeing that taking part in the Hershey Track and Field program is a great experience.
“I kind of like it because you can either be part of a team or it can be just you and I also like running so that helps,” said athlete Grace Johnson. Another athlete, Sam Condon said, “I love it because it helps keep me in shape for everything I do and stuff like that.”
The top finishers in the Northern Regional Qualifier advance to the state competition held in July. From there, they have a shot at competing down in Hershey. While the last meet is quickly approaching, it’s hard to forget the years of memories that have come out of this series of events.
“Just a wonderful opportunity for kids to meet kids from all over North America and understand that it really doesn’t matter where you’re from, whether it’s a small town or a big city,” said Mazzuchelli. “It’s what you have in your heart and if you want to succeed and you work at it, you can succeed.”>
Multiple winners included Ashlyn Bouchard of Caribou, Sam Cullins of Fort Fairfield and Gavin McNaughton in the 9-10 age division… Dolcie Tanguay of Fort Kent and Bradon Bradbury of Mars Hill in the 11-12 age division… And Alexis Rodrigues of Caribou and Cole Winslow of Houlton in the 13-14 age division. The top four winners of each event have advanced to compete in the state meet next Tuesday in Bangor.