The Mt. Ararat indoor track teams warms up for their practice on Tuesday at the Topsham Indoor Sports Complex in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

While basketball and hockey teams are prepping for season openers this week, indoor track and field programs look to get creative to find some competition this winter.

Mt. Ararat head coach Diane Fournier knew this season would be anything but normal, considering her experience while coaching the cross country teams this fall. 

“In the fall I was telling the kids to consider a different sport in the winter, it never looked good for indoor track to proceed like other sports,” said Fournier. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the kids that continue to show up and put in the work, the dedication I see from them is amazing.”

The biggest challenge for indoor track programs is finding facilities for practices and, possibly, meets. However, with many indoor facilities closed to the public, many Midcoast teams are making do with a handful of practices a week.

The Eagles practice at the Topsham Indoor Sports Complex — also known as “The Dome” — on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To ensure COVID-19 safety measures are followed, the team is split into two groups to allow for social distancing.

“One group works on their fitness, while the other group works on a certain event they participate in, then they switch halfway through practice” Fournier explained. 

The Eagles will hold a virtual meet on Jan. 21 at the Topsham Indoor Sports Complex. 

“We’re going to keep track of the times and scores, and then see how much they improve when the season is over,” said Fournier. 

The Mt. Ararat indoor track teams warms up for their practice on Tuesday at the Topsham Indoor Sports Complex in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

In Bath, Morse is its fielding a standalone team for the first time, after being part of a co-operative effort with Mt. Ararat in previous years. 

The Shipbuilders had been practicing in the gym at the old Morse High School, known locally as “The Pit,” until the school went to remote learning on Monday, pausing athletics until at least Jan. 23.

“Practices have been focused on general aerobic and strength conditioning that caters to all athletes regardless of their events”, said head coach Brent Luchies. “We’re definitely limited by the lack of a track facility, but everyone’s being creative and making the most of it.”

Luchies is still brainstorming ways for the team to have some sort of competition this season, if and when it is able to return to practice. 

“Discussions have ranged from virtual meets to holding some sort of meet outside if the weather suffices,” Luchies said. 

Isabel Strelneck, a Morse junior, joined the indoor track and field team this winter for the first time after running cross country in the fall.

“Practices have been awesome, and it’s great to have some sort of social interaction while staying active,” Strelneck said. 

Strelneck added that indoor track has been different from what she experienced this fall with cross country. 

“It’s definitely been a bit more challenging to adjust to the modifications, given the change in the environment,” said Strelneck. “It’s definitely an interesting year to try indoor track, especially considering we don’t even know if we’ll have any meets this season.”

While Morse just recently paused all athletics, Brunswick is in a holding pattern after Cumberland County received a yellow designation from the state in late December. Schools in yellow counties are encouraged to pause athletics because there is an elevated risk of coronavirus transmission.

“When we were able to practice, we worked on conditioning ourselves to get in shape, and had a big focus on our technique,” said Brunswick head coach Dan Dearing.

Dearing added that the athletes maintained a high level of energy no matter the circumstances.

There was a lot of enthusiasm in which our team really was really getting a lot out of our workouts,” he said. “We have had full team virtual meetings to keep everyone up to date. This also allows the team to see each other visually and to ask questions or give advice to teammates. A lot of them have been committed to working out at home or going for runs.”

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