With some notable modifications in place, high school cross country meets were able to occur across the state despite the pandemic.

Masks at the starting line, staggered starts, fewer races, and no grouping up at the finish line. These are just a few of the modifications that took place to allow for cross country to race this fall.

Although the season ended prematurely with sadness and questions after the state meets were canceled, teams were happy they were able to just have a season at all. Mt. Ararat was set to send both the boys and girls teams to the state meet, which was set to take place at Saxl Park in Bangor.

“I really didn’t think we were going to have a season,” said Mt. Ararat senior Camila Ciembroniewicz, who placed 11th in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A girls meet. “We all felt fortunate each time we were able to get together as a team this year.”

While there is a sense of “what if” with the state meet being canceled, the Morse cross country team had its best season this century. Coach Brent Luchies was proud of what his team accomplished this season given the circumstances surrounding the season. 

Mt. Ararat’s Mary Wheeler runs during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cross country meet October 31 at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo Buy this Photo

“Our whole team was happy with what they accomplished as a team and individually this season,” Luchies said. “While they were disappointed we didn’t have states, they understood and they rolled with what was given to them.”

The Shipbuilders boys team took home the KVAC crown, and the girls finished as the runner-ups to Waterville.  The number of runners participating in cross country at Morse also jumped in numbers this season.

“The program at Morse has grown dramatically over my four years, and it was awesome to see the amount of runners we had this season,” said Morse senior Liam Scanlon.

With the state meets being canceled, coaches and runners got creative in figuring out an event to hold within the team to take place instead of the state meet. At Brunswick, the team held a time trial day in place of states. The runners had the option of whether they wanted to participate or not. Runners chose which event they wanted to try and break their personal record in. 

“Everyone had a chance to go for their PR in whatever event they wanted, and a lot of people broke their time,” said Brunswick senior Adeline Dolley.

The Dragons boys and girls teams had qualified for the state meet.

At Mt. Ararat, the boys ran a two mile race with masks on. Ciembroniewicz and her teammate, Sadie Skinner, ran with the boys team.

I wish the whole team could have been there but I’m glad that I got to finish off the season with Sadie,” Ciembroniewicz said. 

The Morse program held their annual end of season banquet virtually. Runners also had the opportunity to go to the Morse track and run a 5k, with a mask on. 

“We weren’t able to race on a flat course this season, so our coaches thought of holding the trials to see how fast we could run a flatter course,” said Morse senior captain Iris Hennin.

Audrey Crews of Morse praised Hennin and the coaches for setting up the end of season run in place of states.

“Overall it was just a really fun way to end the season, and took our minds off of what could have been,” Crews said. 

Luchies was just happy to have the team get together for one final time, amid that upsetting news that the state meet was canceled. 

“We at least were able to have one final race on the track at Morse, it was great and the senior leaders on the team really stepped up,” he said. 

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