Hurdles stand in several inches of snow on the Mount Desert Island High School track Tuesday afternoon. Before Monday's snow day the track was clear and the team had been able to practice outside. ISLANDER PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Track team primed for strong season

BAR HARBOR — Winning championships has been a constant for the Mount Desert Island High School outdoor track team for some time. As the Trojans prepare for 2019, the goal is no different.

MDI capped off a remarkable season last year when it won the boys’ state title and placed ninth on the girls’ side at the Class B state championships in Dover-Foxcroft. That effort followed a 2017 performance in which the Trojans placed second in the boys’ competition and third in the girls’ team event.

Although many competitors from those MDI squads have graduated, the Trojans have a strong group of athletes hungry for success this season. The depth this season’s squad boasts reminds its head coach of the team that finished near the top two years ago.

“This year’s boys’ and girls’ teams are deep like that 2017 team with their potential to cover a lot of events at a high level,” head coach Aaron Long said. “However, for the most part, this year’s team is also young and unproven on both sides.”

Gilbert Isaacs of the Mount Desert Island High School outdoor track team practices the shot put during track practice April 5. Isaacs took fourth place in the shot put in last year’s outdoor state championships and won the state’s Class B indoor title in the event in February. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

One benefit for this year’s team will be the continuity from the indoor season, in which Gilbert Isaacs (boys’ shot put), Zoe Olson (girls’ 800-meter run) and the team of Olson, Grace Munger, Olivia Johnson and Katelyn Osborne (4-by-800-meter relay) won state titles. Those athletes will be participating on the outdoor team this year.

Elsewhere, MDI will bring back a number of competitors who participated in last year’s state championships. State pole vault runner-up Elijah Denning, 800- and 1,600-meter run contestant Stephen Grierson and all-around standout Elijah Joyce are returning for the boys’ team.

Marilyn Sawyer, Loren Genrich and Olivia Watson will do so for the girls’ team.

As is often the case, MDI will be able to field athletes across a number of events this year with team numbers as strong as ever. That’s the case throughout the rest of the Penobscot Valley Conference, which is getting more competitive with each passing year as a result of growing interest in track and field.

“The PVC is up about 200 athletes athlete for track and field this year compared to last year,” Long said. “I know a lot of my kids like the ‘everybody plays’ aspect of track and field … It’s great for the sport, and it forces everyone to compete and work hard to up their game because the field of athletes is getting deeper and more talented.”

The late spring snow dump that’s taken place over the past few weeks has been a downer for teams throughout the state. Yet even as the Trojans are itching to get outside, Long said the team has done a good job of using the resources available.

“Our track and jump areas have been clear of snow [until Monday], and we’ve been able to get in a lot more quality work than last year,” Long said. “[Athletic Director Bunky] Dow and the other spring sports coaches have been super helpful and flexible so that our throwers can get in some solid work in the gym as well.”

MDI will open the season with a home meet at noon on April 20 and will host another meet May 10 at 3:30 p.m. The Trojans will also host the Hancock County championships at 3:30 on May 17. The team is still looking for volunteers for all three home meets.

Following the county championships, MDI will look to repeat its recent successes at the regional and state championships. The Trojans have defined past seasons with strong performances in those events, and doing so will be a major goal for the team once again.

“This team is working hard and building on our traditions,” Long said. “I’m excited to see where we are when we finally are able to start competing.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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