Unlikely track stars from small-town Maine
In 1998, Narraguagus High School in Harrington did not have
an indoor track program and the spring track team worked out in a dirt
Casey Kelley '02 and Nick Lyford '02 both graduated from Narraguagus
High School and enrolled at Bowdoin College in the fall of 1998. Each
has gone on to be elected team captains, and this past Saturday they each
broke school records in their track specialties.
"Narraguagus is my favorite high school," observed Bowdoin
Coach Peter Slovenski. "Everyone on our team from Narraguagus broke
a school record last weekend."
Kelley and Lyford already held school records in the women's triple jump
and men's javelin, but each broke their own record and took first place
in a meet on Saturday involving six teams at M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"I knew Casey would be a standout in college athletics," recalled
Slovenski. "She had been a Class C state champion in the triple jump
and hurdles, and had a lot of motivation for track. Casey was the top
recruit of the year. But Nick has been a great surprise. "
Lyford contacted Bowdoin coaches about sports, but he contacted the basketball coach first. Nick was a Downeast Athletic Conference and State of Maine McDonald's all-star basketball player his senior year at Narraguagus, averaging 12 points and 13 rebounds a game.
"Basketball was my first love in high school," admitted Lyford.
"When I visited Bowdoin, I wanted to play college basketball in the
winter, and then maybe do track in the spring."
Nick had some success in high school track. He threw the high school
javelin 157' and scored in the Class C high jump with a jump of 6'. But
Nick was not convinced there would be much more track and field in his
"He told me he wanted to play varsity basketball," Coach Slovenski
remembered, "and he also said he liked to ski. I figured between
basketball and skiing we'd never see this guy on a college track team."
"Nick didn't work very hard at track in high school," Casey
Kelley recalled. "He used to hide in the back of a pick-up truck
just to get out of running intervals."
But this past weekend Nick set a new college record in the javelin with
a throw of 189'10". Lyford has been a two-time All-New England selection
in the javelin, and this past winter won the shot put in the collegiate
state meet. His track accomplishments have been the result of his outstanding
natural talent and a new found work ethic that has impressed his teammates
enough to elect him captain of the 55 member squad.
"You need to work a lot harder to be successful in college track,"
observed Lyford. "Every college team has some guys who were state
champions in high school, so I had to start putting in the work if I wanted
to be competitive at this level."
And both Casey and Nick have become very competitive All-New England
track and field athletes at Bowdoin.
"During their freshman year, Casey was always on time for practice,
and Nick was often missing," said Coach Slovenski. "Casey told
me to look for him in the back of pick-up trucks. He had a lot of excuses
for not being at practice. But now he is one of the most dedicated athletes
on the team, as well as one of the best students. This semester Nick is
completing an honors project in physics."
Women's team captain Kelley has had an outstanding four year career for
the Polar Bears. "Casey has been a team leader and one of our top
scorers ever since her first season," noted Slovenski. "She
was competitive in the college championship meets right away, and she
has improved her performance each year through hard work."
Kelley was high scorer for Bowdoin this past winter with 88 points and
broke her own school record in the triple jump this past weekend with
a leap of 36'10". In the same meet Kelley also won the hurdles (16.20)
and the javelin (121')
Kelley and Lyford have been good friends through high school and college
and also good rivals. Kelley is an anthropology major and math minor.
Lyford is a physics major, and Kelley enjoys reminding him about high
school physics. "I got a higher grade in physics than he did,"
she says with a smile.
It has taken Lyford a bit longer, but now he has caught up to Kelley in physics and track. "They've made terrific contributions to Bowdoin as students, athletes, and leaders," noted Slovenski. "The Narraguagus connection has been great for Bowdoin College."
-Courtesy Peter Slovenski