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Varsity Maine
Posted
Updated April 13
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2021 track and field overview: Midcoast teams gear up for an unprecedented season

After a lost 2020 season and all but lost indoor season in 2021, athletes and coaches look to the upcoming outdoor season as a sign of normalcy.

Brunswick boys track and field head coach Dan Dearing looks on as his team stretches before a recent practice. Photo provided by Heather Hoisington

Morse track and field coach Shawn Guest wasn’t sure what to expect when he walked into the high school gym on the first day of the spring sports season.

Now in his 33rd season, Guest couldn’t help but feel like the program was pressing a type of restart button.

“It’s weird, we have a lot of underclassmen who I still haven’t gotten a chance to really get to know,” Guest said. “Our numbers are up which will give us an advantage when the season really gets going.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season, leaving plenty of uncertainty heading into 2021.

Although some programs have seen a decline in numbers, others — like Mt. Ararat, Freeport and Morse — have reported an increase.

Guest said the Shipbuilders had 50 athletes come out this spring, up from 37 in spring 2019. Neighboring Mt. Ararat had 54 athletes come out, up from just 17 during the indoor season. 

“I was glad to see our numbers back up to what we have come to expect,” said Mt. Ararat head coach Diane Fournier. 

Fournier advised many of her athletes to try a new sport during the winter, preferably skiing, with the indoor season being logistically impossible to hold. Fournier said she is excited about her team’s progress.

“While there are still issues that need to be dealt with, this season is shaping up to be great for everyone involved,” she said. “A lot of our distance runners took up skiing to stay in shape over the winter.”

Freeport coach Matthew Greear said he had 65 athletes come out this spring.

It’s definitely encouraging to see the numbers,” Greear said. “After losing last season we were unsure what to expect from a numbers standpoint with underclassmen. Now they (underclassmen) make up a majority of our team.”

In Lisbon, coach Dean Hall said things have been “touch and go” in the early going.

“We’re still in the process of assessing our team, we haven’t had a practice yet with the full team together,” Hall said. “We also have a lot of athletes who have never competed at the varsity level, so when you add that on top of our practices, we’re really an unknown at this point.”

With new rules in place because of the pandemic, athletes face some rule modifications. For example, during relays, athletes have the following options: They can either wear gloves, or sanitize their hands before and after their portion has been complete. During most sprinting events, a lane will be left open in between each competitor. 

“One of the biggest adjustments will be having to get used to running for time and not the person next to them,” said Brunswick girls head coach Heather Hoisington. “We’ve been working on ways to make this an easy transition for our athletes, but you can’t simulate what it’s like during a meet in practice.”

Brunswick sprinters Kaiden Green, left, and Matthew Poulton warm up during a recent practice. Photo provided by Heather Hoisington

The other big challenge is wearing a mask during competition. 

“It’s going to be tough for the distance runners,” said Guest. “We’re doing everything we can to help them get accustomed to it before races begin.”

Teams will be competing in regular season meets April 21 before conference and state championships are held later this spring.

To minimize the number of teams competing at once, plans are in place to divide the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet into three separate events. Schools would be placed in groups bases on their populations.

A large school division would be comprised of the following: Brunswick, Camden Hills, Edward Little, Lewiston, Messalonskee, Mt. Ararat, Oxford Hills, and Skowhegan. A medium school division would feature Cony, Erskine Academy, Gardiner, Lawrence, Lincoln Academy, Medomak Valley, Morse, Mt. Blue, and Nokomis. The small school division would have Belfast, Leavitt, Maranacook, Maine Central Institute, Mount View, Oceanside, Waterville, and Winslow. 

Brunswick, Cony, and Maranacook are tentatively scheduled to host each conference championship meet. 

“We’re excited to host some meets at our new facility,” said Brunswick boys head coach Dan Dearing. 

The Dragons held three meets during the indoor season at the Topsham Recreation Center against Morse, turning the indoor turf field into a makeshift track facility. 

While the turnout of athletes was strong considering the circumstances for the indoor season, Hoisington has been more than pleased with the numbers she has seen so far this season. 

“We have exceeded our expectations that we had coming into the season,” said Hoisington. “We were hoping for about 75% of the athletes we had in 2019, but we have far surpassed that and should be able to cover all events.”

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