STANDISH — Sub-freezing temperatures welcomed the first official day of spring practices at high schools across southern Maine. But that didn’t cool off the enthusiasm for the beginning of a new season.

“I love outdoor track. I think it’s the best, personally,” said Bonny Eagle senior Hannah Stevens. “Indoors it gets stuffy. Outdoor it’s big. It’s open. You can see everything happening and it’s just so much more fun being outside.”

The Scots’ distance runners took the cold weather in stride and did most of their workout in the chilly fresh air. But Coach Mike Burleson said he didn’t “want to scare off” the newcomers and had the sprinters and field event athletes running the hallways and stretching indoors.

“It’s a short season. We have less than 10 weeks from day one to the state meet so we have a lot to squeeze in,” Burleson said. “I think there’s some big goals for some of our seniors and we have some kind of big potential team-wise on both sides as well. It’s exciting to see what we have. Kind of a last hurrah for a couple of these (kids).”

While baseball and softball teams in Maine have had a week of throwing and conditioning, Monday marked the first day for the rest of the spring sports – track and field, lacrosse, and tennis.

Stevens, fellow seniors Delaney Hesler and Emmaline Pendleton and sophomore Addy Thibodeau return after qualifying in the 3,200-meter relay for the 2021 National Scholastic Athletics Foundation’s Nike Nationals at historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Hesler also ran the 5,000 meters at the Nike Nationals. Hesler, who is coming off an injury that kept her sidelined during the indoor season, and Pendleton were Varsity Maine All-State picks in cross country.

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While the Bonny Eagle’s girls’ team is highlighted by its distance runners, the boys’ group is led by senior Aidan Walcott, who last spring set the Class A state meet records in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes with times of 10.80 and 21.96 seconds, respectively. Walcott played football and basketball and dabbled indoors with the high jump (he won the Class A meet).

“I’ve definitely been looking forward to this,” said Walcott, who has committed to run for George Mason University. “I like performing outdoors a lot better than indoors.”

A new season also represents another chance to renew friendly rivalries, said Hesler, who will be competing next year for the University of New Hampshire. In particular, she’s looking forward to racing Thornton Academy’s Mia-Claire Kezal, who set a Maine indoor 1,000-meter record while winning the New England Championships race.

“I’ve been running against her since we were like 9 and she’s one of my best friends,” Hesler said. “I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am today without her friendly competition. Every time we push each other to the best of our abilities and then we always have a big hug at the end, no matter who finishes first. I think that’s something that makes our sport special.”

Pendleton recently accepted an appointment to attend – and run for – Army at West Point.

“I’m just really excited to have this final season with this team,” she said. “These races will really be our last races as high school athletes. I’m just excited to have this one last season with all my best friends and my coaches.”

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Pendleton’s sentiments were shared by senior lacrosse players at Yarmouth High. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams won Class B titles in 2021. On Monday they were bundled in sweat pants, extra shirts and gloves for practice on the school’s artificial surface field.

“The last first day. It’s bittersweet for sure,” said Katelyn D’Appolonia, a returning Varsity Maine All-State midfielder on the Yarmouth girls’ team. “I’m just so happy being out here. We have a lot of new faces this year which I’m really excited about.”

The girls team is moving up from Class B to Class A.

“It’s good for our program to try to compete in a different class,” said Coach Dorothy Holt.

“We want to have fun. We want to make sure we’re improving throughout the season but a state championship is definitely in our view,” D’Appolonia said.

Clancy Walsh, another senior midfielder, runs cross country and indoor track for Yarmouth. But her first day of lacrosse is different, she said.

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“I’ve played lacrosse since I was a little kid. It’s my favorite sport,” Walsh said. “I want to make sure everyone feels included and we keep everyone having fun the whole time. Because lacrosse is fun.”

The Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse team features several players who have already won one Class B state championship this school year, either in soccer or basketball.

“Winning a state championship is always the number one goal regardless of whatever team you’re on,” said midfielder Steve Fulton, who last fall was the Varsity Maine Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year. “I think we’ll talk about it a bit today.”

Peter Psyhogeos was the leading scorer and rebounder on Yarmouth’s basketball team and is a top returning attackman in lacrosse. Psyhogeos scored five goals in the Clippers’ championship win last spring against Marshwood.

“We’re hoping to get two (championships) in a school year so that would be great but we don’t necessarily try to look all the way to the state championship,” Psyhogeos said.


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