Thanksgiving is still more than a week away, back yards are still flooded with leaves, and state championships have yet to be decided in high school football.
But a winter feel was in the air at high schools across the state Monday as thousands of athletes took to the courts, rinks, school hallways, pools and mats for the first time for preseason practices and tryouts. High school basketball, track and field, swimming and diving, wrestling, ice hockey and cheerleading were allowed to open on Monday.
The first countable games and meets can be held after 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5.
The first day of tryouts usually brings optimism, and there’s tons of it in the case of the Bangor girls basketball team.
The Rams had a stellar season last winter, compiling a 14-4 regular season record and earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Maine Class A tourney before falling in the first round to Oxford Hills of South Paris.
Coach Tom Tennett will have to replace his top two offensive threats in Amy Hackett and Allie Clukey, his main objective as practices get into gear.
“I think between Amy and Allie last year we were getting about 25 points per game,” said Tennett. “We’ll have to replace that, that’s my biggest concern, who’s going to score consistently for us.”
The Rams lost seven seniors from last year’s squad, but boast a strong corps of juniors to complement returning senior Hilary Sivik.
“We’re going to have to work really hard in practice to get some scoring opportunities,” said Sivik.
The junior class includes 5-foot-9 center Stephanie Comstock and 5-11 forward Kristina Curtis along with Kate Freudenberger, Brianna Tocci, Melanie Jackson, Megan Doucette and Hillary Throckmorton.
“We have a great junior class coming with us,” Sivik said.
Tennett will also have to find someone who can handle the ball, as Clukey was the point guard last season.
“I think that’s the great thing about high school basketball, you get to see the kids progress,” Tennent said.
“You’re always excited, it’s like a new beginning, every team’s got the same dreams right now, the same expectations.”
Bangor should possess good depth and be tough defensively while trying to find an offensive balance.
“I think [opposing defenses] will be spread out more, have more people to guard this year,” Sivik said.
Leonardi tops Maine field
Ten of Maine’s finest runners will be looking to take big bites out of the Big Apple next weekend, as four girls and six boys from Maine high schools will head to New York City for the Footlocker Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on Nov. 29.
Headlining the Maine entries are two freshmen, Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk and Emily Durgin from Bonny Eagle in Standish.
These two have been the lead horses among Maine schoolgirl runners all season, and they showcased their talents in a big way at the recent New England championship meet in New Hampshire, with Leonardi finishing first and Durgin second in a talented field.
The top 10 runners in the boys and girls seeded races will qualify for the Dec. 13 national championships at Balboa Park in San Diego.
If Leonardi is on her game, she could be among those earning berths to Southern California.
Mount Desert Island senior Heather Spurling is entered in the senior girls race while Hannah Wiley of Kennebunk will run in the junior girls race.
Maine boys entered include juniors Taylor Dundas of Cheverus in Portland, Cony of Augusta’s Luke Fontaine, Will Geoghegan of Brunswick, Nate Hathaway of Scarborough, Marc McCauley of Greely and Hampden Academy sophomore Ethan Burke.