The Skowhegan field hockey team gets does some drills during a September workout session. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Maine Central Institute athletic director Jim Leonard couldn’t have been more blunt.

“We’re done,” Leonard said.

MCI suspended all athletics after the Department of Education designated Somerset County “yellow” on Friday, meaning there is an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread in the community. Washington and Waldo counties also received yellow designations.

Lawrence and Skowhegan also suspended athletics Friday, possibly bringing an end to their fall sports seasons.

The surge in coronavirus case numbers — the state reported 103 new infections Friday — raised some questions as to whether the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cross country championship races would still be held Saturday in Waterville and Augusta.

The KVAC B race, which is scheduled at the quarry road trails in Waterville, will feature nine schools. Lawrence, Medomak Valley, Gardiner and Belfast will not compete at the KVAC B race because of COVID-19 concerns. Skowhegan is out of the KVAC A race in Augusta.

“We lost four schools in one week,” Oceanside athletic director Molly Bishop, the KVAC B cross country chairperson, said. “We are comfortable we can pull it off within all the guidelines. We can host this within the guidelines that were provided.”

Mike Bisson, a director at the Maine Principals’ Association, acknowledged there are some safety concerns with events that will attract student-athletes from several different communities. However, Bisson added the MPA would not step in and force a conference to cancel or postpone its championship meet.

“Everything is a concern when you bring kids together from different communities,” he said. “Now, cross country is a lower-risk activity. Hopefully, everything is OK. There are no easy answers.”

Lawrence cross country coach Tim Alberts said he had seven boys and five girls set to run in the KVAC B meet. At Thursday’s practice, Alberts noted the increasing number of COVID-19 cases statewide, particularly in Somerset County.

“I said ‘keep your fingers crossed that we don’t go into the yellow.’ They kind of knew this could be coming,” Alberts said. “I told Josiah Webber (who placed fourth at the KVAC meet last season), ‘This could be your state meet.'”

Leonard said he suspended four events at MCI: 7-on-7 football games against Foxcroft Academy and Bangor; a field hockey game against Cony; and a girls soccer game against Old Town.

“I almost got a full (fall) schedule in,” Leonard said.

The Skowhegan field hockey team had its game at nearby rival Messalonskee canceled Friday. Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said she heard shortly after noon that the county’s yellow designation meant her team’s season was likely over.

Doughty was frustrated for her team.

“My kids have practiced all week in the rain,” she said. “This is so hard for the kids. My kids have said to me, this is the only thing that’s keeping them sane, participating in sports. This whole thing is awful… We’ll keep our fingers crossed and maybe we can make up these games at the end of next week.”

 

Sports editor Bill Stewart contributed to this story.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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