Sam Rusak became the first male in 37 years to win four individual events at the Class A state meet, and he’s still improving.
Sam Rusak’s dedication has become legendary on the Scarborough High track and field team.
After failing to clear a height in the pole vault at the 2015 Class A indoor state meet, Rusak was determined this year to excel – and to stay relaxed. As a result, the junior has started to dominate his competition.
At the Class A outdoor state meet this spring, Rusak won four events: the pole vault (a state-leading height of 15 feet, 6 inches), the 110-meter hurdles (a state-leading time of 15.01 seconds), the 200 (22.82) and the high jump (6-0). His performance lifted the Red Storm to just their second Class A title in 15 years.
Rusak’s marks in the pole vault, hurdles and 200 at the state meet were all personal bests.
“He makes everyone else better, just by watching how hard he works,” said Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux.
Scarborough topped Falmouth for the state title by a comfortable margin, 84.5-55. Rusak’s improvement this spring made all the difference. Last year at the outdoor state meet, Rusak placed second in the pole vault and 13th – out of the scoring – in the high jump.
With Rusak’s rare feat of winning four individual events at the state meet, he is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Athlete of the Year for boys’ track and field.
George Mendros, who has been coaching at Thornton Academy for 35 years, said Rusak is the first male to win four individual events at the Class A outdoor meet since 1979. It’s happened only four times in Class B during that period, Mendros said.
Rusak said his improvement is simply part of his long-term plan to develop into a multi-event athlete and eventually compete in the decathlon at the NCAA Division I level. He finished fourth in the decathlon at the New Balance national high school championships.
Each year, he focuses on specific skills, from his technique and strength to his speed.
“This year I was working on my speed,” Rusak said.
It showed at the Class A meet, where he improved his best time in the 200 from 23.16 to 22.82 seconds. In the hurdles, he cut his best time from 15.39 to 15.01.
Even when Rusak was losing steam toward the end of the state meet, he said he simply refocused on staying loose while competing in the high jump. He cleared 6-0 with room to spare on his first attempt. That was good enough for the title, because only two other jumpers cleared 6-0, and each had at least one miss.
“I just looked at Coach (Veilleux) before my approach and the way he looked at me he said, ‘You got this.’ I could tell by the look in his eyes,” Rusak said.
Telegram All-State team
Matt Brady, Biddeford junior: Finished second in the shot put (55-103/4) and third in the discus (154-8) at the Class A state meet. Took third in the shot put (55-41/4) and discus (156-6) at New Englands.
Dan Guiliani, South Portland senior: Maine’s all-time best shot putter with a throw of 71-11/2, he won that event at the Class A state meet (67-31/4) and finished second in the discus (164-8).
Jake Koffman, Orono junior: Defended his Class C discus title with a state-record throw of 189-9. Also captured the New England title (174-10).
Luke Laverdiere, Yarmouth sophomore: Won the 1,600 (4:21.94) and 800 (2:01.34) at the Class B state meet. Ranked No. 1 in the state in the 1,600 (4:21.47) and 3,200 (9:18.16).
Austin Lufkin, Brewer junior: Won the discus (168-4) and took fourth in the shot put (51-63/4) at the Class A state meet. Was the New England shot put champion (58-51/4) and took fourth in the discus (155-8).
Drew Nealey, Belfast senior: Won the pole vault at the Class B meet with a Class B record (14-7). Also won the 300 hurdles (41.81), and placed second in the 110 hurdles (15.57) and the javelin (159-10). Took second at the New Englands in the pole vault (13-9) and was third at the nationals in the decathlon.
Evan Porter, Traip Academy junior: Set a Class C record in the 300 hurdles (39.57) and also won the 110 hurdles (15.21) and the 100 dash (11.13). Took second at New Englands in the 300 hurdles (39.20).
Michaiah Robinson, Washington Academy junior: Won the 400 (50.13) and 200 (22.65) at the Class C state meet. Also was sixth at the New Englands in the 400 (50.03).
Sam Rusak, Scarborough junior: Won four events at the Class A state meet – the 200 (22.82), high jump (6-0), 110 hurdles (state-leading time of 15.01) and pole vault (state-leading mark of 15-6). Placed fourth at the nationals in the decathlon.
Keenan Welzel, Brunswick senior: Won the 400 (50.19) in Class A and took fifth at the New Englands (49.86) to earn All-New England honors.
Coach of the Year
Derek Veilleux, Scarborough: Led the Red Storm to a convincing 29-point victory at the Class A state meet to win just their second outdoor state title in 15 years and first since 2013.