SACO — Mount Desert Island High School track team members Gilbert Isaacs, Elijah Denning and Elijah Joyce traveled to Thornton Academy on Saturday for the New England regional championship meet. The meet brought an end to Isaacs’ and Joyce’s Trojan careers while marking a rewarding end to a trying season for Denning.
Isaacs competed in the shot put in hopes of besting his state title-winning throw of 55 feet, 9 1/2 inches from the previous Saturday. His throw of 55 feet, 9 3/4 inches did so by just about the smallest of margins to earn the strong-armed senior one last personal record.
Isaacs’ throw placed him fifth in the 32-person field. In addition to winning the state title in the event the previous week, Isaacs also won the Penobscot Valley Conference Large-School and Hancock County titles. He also won the Hancock County crown in the discus throw.
“Gilbert is a big dude with a lot of athleticism to go along with it. Yes, he has gifts, but he takes his gifts and works his tail off to maximize that potential,” MDI head coach Aaron Long said. He attributes Isaacs’ finish at New Englands to the tireless training the thrower has put in over the years: “He is the epitome of a first-in, last-out kind of athlete.”
Joyce competed in the 110-meter hurdles and placed 23rd with a time of 15.89 seconds. He finished as state runner-up in the event the previous Saturday with a time of 15.36 seconds.
A well-rounded athlete at MDI, Joyce competed in the 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, triple jump and javelin throw at states. As a junior a year ago, he teamed up with then-seniors Colby Lee, Griffin Maristany and Owen Mild to win the state title in the 4-by-100 relay.
“Elijah Joyce is a coach’s dream: kind, athletic, respectful and willing to do whatever he is asked to do to help the team be successful,” said Long, who noted that Joyce finished his career with the fourth-most points of any individual competitor in boys’ team history. “He is far more than just a hurdler; he is a well-rounded, team-first athlete.”
In the pole vault, Denning, who cleared 12 feet, 6 inches at the state championships, cleared the same high again Saturday in Saco. Those performances came after battling a hamstring injury for much of the season.
“Elijah Denning has a great combination of not only being a student of the event but also being able to make corrections from verbal cues as well as watching himself on video,” Long said. “His hamstring has limited the amount of work he’s been able to put in, so it’s been a strong emphasis on quality repetitions.”
The meet marked the second time this year MDI has sent multiple competitors to a New England championship track meet. The Trojans also did so at the indoor championships, and the key, Long said, is “trusting the process.
“If you don’t trust in what you’re doing, the chances of you achieving your goals become significantly less before you even start,” he continued. “I feel like the kids trust and believe in what they’re doing. When they do that and believe they can make it to meets like this, they feel invincible.”