The 1980 & 1981 Girls’ Cross Country Teams
The 1980 girls' cross country team was the first female athletic team in any sport to win a state championship at Brewer High School. The Brewer girls' cross country team (Orange Crush Racing Team) was truly a sight to behold throughout the season, with a record of 43 wins and 7 losses. They were Eastern Maine Class A champions and Maine Class A state champions.
The sport of cross country is perhaps the purest form of running competition. In cross country meets, a team is comprised of seven runners all running the same race, at the same distance, at the same place. Competitors traverse a wide variety of course conditions. High school runners usually compete along an approximately two and a half to three mile course. The athletes are likely to encounter hills, up and down, mud, water hazards, uneven footing, rocks, and various other obstacles to smooth running. Of course, the challenge is to run as fast as possible through the course from start to finish. Team scores are determined by adding up the places of the first five runners from each team. Although their points are not calculated, runners six and seven are able to displace the first five runners of their competition. Therefore, the lowest total score wins the team competition.
At the 1980 Class A Cross Country State Championship, sixty-six girls, including eight teams and qualifying individuals from across the state, participated in the meet. The Brewer girls finished the meet in the following order: Mary Lynn Cyr, 10th; Lara Rosenberg 13th; Beth Adams, 15th; Theresa Lawlor, 18th; Anne Loiselle, 21st; Dawn Fraser, 32nd; Susan Steele, 34th. In team scoring Brewer outdistanced second-place Old Town by forty-five points. The close grouping of the Brewer runners was the strength of the team. This was characteristic of each race throughout the season.
This historical win, as the first female team ever to win a state championship title for Brewer High School, was a culmination of several years of hard work, dedication, perseverance and team building. In the mid-70's, Brewer did not have a girls' cross country team. One or two girls would train with the boys in hopes of developing a full team. By the late 70's, the Brewer girls were very competitive at all levels. In 1980, when they achieved the first state championship, more than thirty girls competed at the varsity and JV levels for the Brewer Witches. Coach Bill LoPotro's philosophy was to welcome and encourage runners of all abilities to run their best and, most importantly, to enjoy the effort. The single most important thing that Coach LoPotro stressed was to have fun while achieving excellence.
Achieving excellence was not easy. It involved long and arduous practices where the girls were able to develop the toughness of mind and body to push themselves to the limit. The 1980 and 1981 girls' cross country teams were anchored by Mary Lynn Cyr, Beth Adams, and Theresa Lawlor. It was not until these three athletes came on the scene that Brewer became truly competitive at the state championship level. Susan Steele, Anne Loiselle, Lara Rosenberg, Debbie Williams, Dawn Fraser, and Deedra Beal rounded out the rest of the state championship team. They and twenty-six other team members contributed greatly to the positive attitude and strong work ethic demonstrated on a daily basis. Practices would often be comprised of speed work repetitions and long distance runs in the area around Brewer High School and workouts at special locations, such as Mt. Waldo in Frankfort, Mt. Desert Island, Acadia National Park, the University of Maine, and Bangor Community College. Two of the most physically challenging workouts were running repeat laps in specific times around Doyle Field and from BHS up Copeland Hill and back. The girls often ran ten miles or more per day during mid-week workouts. The girls' and boys' cross country teams trained together. The respect that the boys had for the girls and vice versa was extraordinary. The boys were so impressed with the toughness of the girls that it drew our teams very close together. Mary Lynn Cyr, the unquestioned leader of the girls’ team, was tough as nails. She was a consistent front-runner, always putting the Orange Crush up front, where they should be.
Brewer High School cross country earned recognition as a powerhouse throughout the state. Not so widely known was how much fun they had while training and running. Summer training and group runs helped to form a bond among the runners. They participated in local road races, took annual trips to watch the Boston Marathon, and competed in state and regional AAU championship meets. Special activities like these helped to develop their positive attitude, competitiveness, and camaraderie, the qualities which made the 1980 Brewer girls' cross country team so special.
All but two of the runners of the 1980 Maine girls' cross country championship team returned in 1981. The 1981 team, anchored by seniors Mary Lynn Cyr, Theresa Lawlor, and Beth Adams, was the second Brewer High School girls' cross country team to win a state championship. Their record was extraordinary: 55 wins and 4 losses in the regular season, Girls' Class A Eastern Maine Champions and Girls' Class A Maine State Champions. Sixty-five runners, including seven teams and qualifying individuals, competed in the 1981 state championships. The order of finish for Brewer was: Mary Lynn Cyr, 4th; Theresa Lawlor, 8th; Debbie Williams, 18th; Anne Loiselle, 24th; Dawn Fraser, 26th; Lori Holyoke, 33rd; Deedra Beal, 50th. In team scoring Brewer outdistanced second-place Biddeford by twenty-two points.
The running philosophy and training techniques used to develop the 1980 championship team were again used in coaching the 1981 team. Coach LoPotro always encouraged the girls to run as a group and draw strength from each other while striving to run their individual best. Once again, the single most important factor in achieving success individually and as a team was to have fun while training hard.
By the end of the 1981 season, the Brewer High School Girls' Orange Crush Racing Team had established itself as the running power to be reckoned with in the state of Maine.
1981, 1982, & 1983 Girls’ Indoor Track Teams
Coming off the school’s first state championship title in any female sport, several members of the 1980 girls’ cross country team competed in indoor track during the winter season of 1980-1981. The 1981 girls’ indoor track team, led by Coach David Jeffrey, marked the beginning of a legacy in indoor track at Brewer High School.
The 1981 team was 18-3 during the regular season and had their best performance ever at the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League Championships, finishing 3rd. Then stunningly, they won the school's first Class A state championship title in indoor track. In that state meet, the team was led by their great distance crew: Theresa Lawlor (1st in both the 1000 yd and the 2 mile runs), Mary Lynn Cyr (3rd in the mile and 2nd in the 2 mile runs), and Anne Loiselle (4th in both the mile and 2 mile). Also scoring key points were Michele Brody (3rd in the 60 yd high hurdles), Jean Libby (4th in the 60 yd dash), Allison Beal (3rd in the 600), Erica Revello (3rd in the high jump), Dawn Fraser (4th in the 600), Beth Adams (6th in the 1000), and teammates Dawn Fraser, Jean Libby, Michele Brody, and Debbie Williams in the 4 x 220 yd relay (6th place). The team scored 70 points, 21 points more than runner-up Deering, to claim the state title.
The 1982 team was a powerhouse. It added several talented new athletes and returned all the key members of the 1981 team, who now were a year older, wiser and even more athletically gifted than the year before. The 1982 girls’ indoor track team had an unbeaten regular season (19-0), won our school’s first EMITL championship, and capped the season by dominating and winning their 2nd consecutive Class A state championship, scoring a whopping 98 points, 44 points over runner-up Skowhegan. In the 1982 state championship meet, the strong distance team continued their dominance over their Class A rivals: Theresa Lawlor (1st in the 2 mile and 2nd in the 1000 yd run), Mary Lynn Cyr (2nd in both the mile and 2 mile), Anne Loiselle (4th in both the mile and 2 mile), and Debbie Williams (4th in the 1000 yd run). But the distance team had a lot of help from their teammates in 1982. Lorraine Faulkner and Julie Goodwin went 3-4 in the shot put. Dawn Fraser and Lara Rosenberg went 5-6 in the 600 yd run. Erica Revello won the high jump, with Vicki Wood taking 3rd. Dawn Fraser placed 2nd in the 280* yd dash and Michele Brody placed 5th in the 60 yd hurdles. Jean Libby was 6th in both the 60 yd dash and the long jump, and the 4 x 220 yd relay of Jean Libby, Michelle Lee, Dawn Fraser, and Lara Rosenberg finished 3rd. Brewer girls scored in every event which demonstrates what a well-rounded and exceptional team they truly were. The 1982 team was Brewer’s first undefeated indoor track team and finished with a season record of 39-0.
The 1983 girls’ indoor track team was a different team from 1982. Although gone were the seniors from the preceding year (Lawlor, Cyr, A. Beal, Brody, Goodwin, Revello, and Wood), the 1983 team still returned a strong nucleus and built upon that legacy with talented newcomers. They blazed through the regular season in the EMITL going 19-0. After a 2nd place finish at the EMITL championship, the Witches finished their season strong winning their 3rd consecutive State Class A Championship scoring 70 points, 19 points over runner-up Portland. They were led in the state meet by Lorraine Faulkner's win in the shot put, Brewer’s only individual state champion. However, they used their great team depth and quality to score in every event but the long jump. Key performers were: Deedra Beal (2nd in the 1000 yd and 4th in the mile runs), Lori Holyoke (3rd in the 1000 yd and 5th in the 2 mile runs), Dawn Fraser (3rd in the 300 yd dash and 4th in the 600 yd run), Cathy Taylor (4th in the 1000 yd run), Kelly Gormely (4th in the 300 yd dash), Ann Trask (5th in the 60 yd dash and the high jump), Jean Libby (4th in the 60 yd hurdles), Betsey Jordan (5th in the 600 yd run), Michelle Lee (5th in the 300 yd dash), Debbie Williams (6th in the mile run), Anne Loiselle (6th in the 2 mile run), and the 4 x 220 yd relay of Betsey Jordan, Michelle Lee, Dawn Fraser, and Kelly Gormely finished 2nd. The team ended their season with a record of 41-1.
The 1981, 1982, and 1983 girls’ indoor track teams began a legacy of excellence for Brewer indoor track which continues to this day. Over the past 40 years, the girls’ indoor track team has won 15 EMITL championships and 8 state titles, the most state titles of any sport in Brewer High School history.
It all started in 1980, with a group of motivated and talented girls who were inspired to be the best. The young women of the 1980 and 1981 cross country teams and the 1981, 1982, and 1983 indoor track teams established a foundation and a culture of excellence that has been unequaled in Brewer High School sports.
*At the 1982 Class A State Meet, the first heat of the 300 yd dash was lined up and run from an incorrect start line (20 yds short). The decision was made to run all the subsequent heats from that initial start line which shortened the overall distance from 300yds to 280 yds.