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Sun Journal Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year: Makenna Drouin, Lewiston

Mar. 21—The finish earns the glory in a track and field race, but the start can't be overlooked.

Lewiston's Makenna Drouin perfected her starts at the beginning of the indoor season, and she finished the year as the fastest girl in the state.

"The improvement I saw during the preseason practices was that my block starts were getting better, which helped a lot during the indoor meets," said Drouin, a senior.

Starts proved problematic during last year's indoor season, when false starts denied the then-Edward Little runner chances at titles in the KVAC Class A 55-meter hurdles and the 55-meter dash at Class A states.

"One thing we do watch out for are her starts," Lewiston coach Craig John said. "If you have watched her run, you can see that she is very quick getting out of the blocks. I have taken to filming her starts. She was (disqualified) once for a start that seemed like a misfire or a double click more than anything else, so we are sensitive to making sure she isn't 'jumping the gun' — pun intended."

John called Drouin's starts this season "unrivaled."

At this year's KVAC Class A championships and the Class A state championships, her performance was unrivaled in her three signature indoor events — the 55- and 200-meter dashes and the 55 hurdles.

She won individual titles in all three at both meets, and then broke the Class A state record in the 55 dash at the state meet.

Drouin's unmatched speed is why she has been chosen as the Sun Journal All-Region Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year — the second year in a row she has earned the honor.

"My goals for this season were to (set personal records in) the 55, 55 (hurdles) and 200 couple of times. States, I was hoping for the three wins and planned on going after the 55 Class A record," Drouin said, later adding: "I met all my goals and expectations I had for myself this season, happily."

John said his focus for Drouin's senior season had nothing to do with starts or finishes.

"My main goal for Makenna was for her to have fun and enjoy being on our team," said John, who is in his track second season coaching Drouin and the first indoors. "She's a natural talent and works hard. If she's having fun and is comfortable with her teammates and the coaching staff, she'll naturally do better."

John noted that Drouin's mother, Julie, was heavily involved with the team this year, and "it's been great to have her be such a big support, not just to Makenna, but the whole team."

John said the trio — Makenna and her mother, and John — set a goal for Makenna to try and shave time off her personal records in all three events, especially the hurdles.

The 55 dash, though, was the event that Drouin saw her first big PR drop.

"The New Year's Invitational at USM was a really good meet for Makenna. She ran 7.19 in the 55 prelim and then 7.18 in the final," John said. "That's when I started thinking that she'll get under 7.1 during the season, which she did."

Drouin, who will run for the Elon University track and field team next year, said she wanted to improve both her speed and strength for her senior season, as well as do some technical form work.

John noted improvement in Drouin's hurdling form.

"She has a faster trail leg now, which enables her to spend less time in the air and puts her back on the track quicker," he said.

Drouin's first chance at championship redemption came at the KVAC Class A championships at Bowdoin College, which she described as an "odd" late-night meet. That didn't stop her from capturing titles in all three of her events and earning girls athlete of the meet honors.

Drouin made sure there was no late-night experience in the lead-up to states at USM.

"The night before states, I went to bed super early and woke up energized and felt like it was going to be a good day, but I was still a little nervous because it is states, and anything can happen, good or bad," she said.

John said those nerves are understandable, even for someone like Drouin who has been among the state's best her entire high-school career.

"Makenna has been running on the bigger stage for a while now, so I think she's pretty used to it. But that doesn't mean she doesn't get a little nervous from time to time," he said. "She's just better than most at handling the pressure."

She handled it, and the competition, at the state meet, setting a new Class A record in the 55 dash with a time of 7.11 seconds in the prelims, then besting that with a 7.08 mark in the final.

"Setting the Class A 55 record, that I beat twice at states in the same day, was a big surprise and an exciting two moments for me, and it meant a lot. Getting that record not just once, but twice in the same day proved all my hard work was showing off and made me proud of myself," she said.

Drouin also captured the 200 dash title with a time of 26.04 seconds and a championship-winning mark of 8.41 in the hurdles that also broke her personal record and the school record.

"Her sweep of events at KVAC was very gratifying. She did it again at the state championship," John said. "While we've sort of gotten used to seeing her cross the finish line first, I understand fully that anything can happen at a track meet. So her first-place finishes are not taken for granted for one second, and I am always super happy for her every time she crosses the finish line."

Drouin capped her season with a pair of top-10 finishes at the New England Championships (sixth in 55 dash, ninth in 55 hurdles) and the chance to compete in two events (60- and 200-meter dashes) at Nike Indoor Nationals.

"I think it's going to be a long time until some, if not all, of her records are broken," John said. "Her legacy is on the record board, and I think it'll be that way for a long, long time."

2023-24 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Indoor Track and Field Team