BANGOR — This week’s state championship cross-country meets have been canceled.
The Maine Principals’ Association made the announcement in a press release issued Monday morning. The decision came just days before teams and individual runners from across the state were set to compete in the season’s final meets at Saxl Park in Bangor.
In the release, MPA Assistant Executive Director Mike Bisson expressed concerns over bringing together athletes from all over Maine to compete in the same competition. The state currently has more than 1,800 active COVID-19 cases, three times as many as it did a month ago.
Bisson also cited the new mandate that student athletes wear masks during competition. The turnaround time between the mandate and the meets, he said, was too short for runners to acclimate to running with face coverings.
“Many cross-country runners have not been acclimatized to wearing the mask while competing in a high-stakes race since the mandate took place last Friday,” Bisson said. “This is a concern for the health and safety of the student athletes.”
The cancellations mean Mount Desert Island, which won both county and Penobscot Valley Conference championships, will not be able to add state titles to their respective trophy hauls. The MDI boys were scheduled to compete Wednesday, and the girls had been slated to run Saturday, Nov. 14.
“Though I know the team would have done stellar at both the JV championships and state meet, I am proud of how we ended our season,” head coach Desiree Sirois said. “Throughout the season, they have been rock stars — adapting, staying positive, staying focused and racing with integrity and intensity.”
Indeed, with the delayed, modified season, MDI faced a host of issues that would have been nonexistent in a typical year.
“These are lessons [they] will carry with them,” Sirois said. “Above all else, this season echoed one of our big philosophies and purposes of our program: Stay positive, persevere, do the right thing and always keep moving forward.”