Even though Maine’s winter sports teams were allowed to open preseason practices last week, indoor track and field teams generally wait until after Thanksgiving to get going, since the first meets of the season usually fall at the start of Christmas break.
But Bangor decided to jump into the fire a tad early, as the Rams, armed with a new head coach in Jamie Cooke, kicked off their preseason on Monday.
“It was all light stuff, just to get them used to the training environment at Bangor and the warm ups,” said Cooke, who will be joined by assistants Shannon Fotter (sprints), Peter Sund (jumps) and other volunteer assistants.
The first Eastern Maine Indoor Track League meets are the weekend of Dec. 18-19.
Since Cooke is new to the head coaching ranks this winter – she replaced the retired Maynard Walton – she felt it might be a good idea to give the Rams an idea of how the new staff will be handling workouts.
“Seeing as I’m the new head coach, we’re also getting acclimated to how [practices] are going to be run with new coaches,” said Cooke, who added that starting early gives Fotter, a newcomer to the coaching staff, a chance to get her feet wet as well.
The Rams had close to 100 athletes Monday, and since a number of them just capped off football season – including senior sprinter Lonnie Hackett – the team stuck to strength and conditioning workouts Monday and Tuesday before breaking today for the holiday.
Hackett and classmate Ben Sinclair, a transfer from Brewer and the defending Class A state champion in the 55- and 200-meter dashes, will team up to give Bangor arguably the best 1-2 sprinting combination in Eastern Maine while Sam Nisbett had a breakout season last spring in the distance events.
That success carried over into cross country, as he qualified for New Englands.
“I only see him improving more, bringing the times down to the top levels of the state,” Cooke said “I see that for his future and I think he does too.”
The Bangor girls should field a strong team as well, led by one of the state’s top sprinters in Brittney Chapman, who also blossomed last spring, breaking the illusive 60-second barrier in the 400 meters, her signature event.
Two girls wound up cracking that mark last year – Brewer’s Kira Giroux and MDI’s Danielle Hutchins – the first time since 1999 that an EMITL schoolgirl runner had broken a minute in that race, and Chapman is primed to join their company this winter.
“I think she can, I think she has the drive and determination to do it,” Cooke said.
Tourney schedule set
The Maine Principals’ Association has released the dates for this winter’s high school basketball tournaments at the Augusta Civic Center and Bangor Auditorium.
The Eastern Maine Class B-C-D tourney in Bangor will start on Friday, Feb. 12, with Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinals.
The first day includes two boys games, at 5 and 6:30 p.m. and a girls’ contest at 8.
The Eastern Maine Class A tournament also gets under way Feb. 12 in Augusta, with a quartet of girls’ quarterfinals, kicking off at 3 p.m. while the boys’ quarterfinals start Feb. 13 at 4 p.m.
The Class A regional finals are Friday, Feb. 19 in Augusta, with the girls at 4 p.m. and the boys at 7 while the Class D, B and C finals follow a day later in Bangor.
EMITL schedule released
The EMITL’s 2009-10 schedule was released recently, and once again this year, Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference teams will trek to Orono the first few weeks of the season to compete against their EMITL cousins.
The season opens Friday, Dec. 18, with teams from Belfast, Lawrence of Fairfield, MCI of Pittsfield, Mt. Blue of Farmington and Messalonskee of Oakland joining Brewer, Central of Corinth, Ellsworth and Old Town.
Cony of Augusta, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Rockland and Camden Hills of Rockport will run in separate meets with EMITL teams a day later.
The highlight of the regular-season slate is Friday, Jan 8, when Edward Little and Brunswick will join Bangor, Brewer, Hampden Academy, Hermon and MDI.
The Edward Little girls won the Class A state outdoor championship last spring while the Brunswick boys have arguably the state’s top distance runner in Will Geoghegan.
The championship meet is Saturday, Feb. 6.