Major winter storms with freezing temperatures have al- ready swept across campus mak- ing it almost impossible to want to go out and enjoy it the win- ter. However, the weather has not stopped the Bates Track and Field teams as you can still see them running around the col- lege as they begin their season.
Over the past two weekends the Bates Track and Field Teams have competed in two meets: A tri-meet with MIT and Colby and the second the Bates Invita- tional, a two day meet consist- ing of the hept- and pentathalon on one night and the remain- ing events the following day.
At the Tri-meet, the men and women both took second, and at the Bates invitational, both im- proved to first. These first two meets have showcased the first years, as they have shown their depth and talent in both meets.
In response to how the first years have added to the team, Captain Olivia LaMarche ‘20 responded that, “They bring a refreshing energy to the team… Every meet is completely new, and while that can be intimidating, it is also exciting. The first years have really embraced this excitement.”
Captain Jeremy Bennett ‘21 agreed and added that “the first years have added a lot of personality to the team as well as challenging the team as a whole in performance with their potential. In the middle distance group we have gained a strong miler in Gabe Coffey, in the 800-1000m group with Daniel McConnell, and in the 400-800m with Owen Glover. In the distance group we have strong 3k-5k runners of Eli Boesch-Dining and Ryan Smith.” He made sure to include that “these are only a few of the many young talented athletes that have joined [the] team this year.”
In the season there’s a one meet in particular that gets these teams excited: The Maine State Championship. Captain Ashley Pratt ‘20 says that she personally finds the meet “to be the most ex- citing meet of the indoor season. . . . this is the last meet of the indoor season in which every athlete is entered in an event, and it includes many teams that [the Bates Track and Field team] see[s] regularly throughout the indoor sea- son.” The women’s team has won this meet for the past six years.
Pratt continued and said that “regardless of the outcome, the team always gets pumped to compete with the knowledge that every athlete’s contribution to points makes a difference, and this encourages a lot of energy and support among teammates.”
LaMarche commented on how the meet has become sentimental for the women’s team.
“The girls state meet is on a Friday night, which makes it feel a little more special than a typical meet. We all get together and make t-shirts be- fore the meet and it seems to bring us together as a team.”
Bennet added that the men also have success with this meet as that “last year [the men] won this meet with dominance, as [they] won every running event from the 600m to the 3,000m.” He continued and said ,“we hope to keep up the same intensity and to win the meet again this year. From the past we know that Bowdoin is a strong team and they will have a chip on their shoulder to win this meet as they have lost to us last year in both track seasons as well as cross country this past fall. Colby is also a strong group with their recent success in the cross country season in the fall and USM is ranked highly in the past few years in track and field so the meet will be very competitive.”
For a sport that seems both uniquely individualized, but also team oriented the captains discussed why they believe that Track and Field is unique among other sports. Pratt argued that “the diversity of events, as well as the individual nature of competing and scoring, are definitely unique aspects of this sport. I’ve heard some people compare track meets to a circus, because there are always so many different events going on in what can feel like a very chaotic setting, and I think this idea definitely applies to practice as well. There are so many variations of athletic ability that are tested across events, from throwing to distance running, which allows for everyone to find a niche in this sport.”
Pratt went on to add, “Across events, finding such a niche can make training and competing feel very individual-focused. For this reason, many people find it surprising to learn that track athletes are also uniquely supportive of one another. There’s a great mix of diversity and support across athletes and events, which I think allows for a unique celebration of many different types of athletes within one sport.”
LaMarche added that she doesn’t “think many people realize how strong of a team atmosphere we develop throughout the season. We are all there to sup- port each other whether at practice or at meets and every athlete is valued on the team. Because we only compete for a portion of every meet it really gives us time to cheer on our teammates. It is such a special feeling to watch your teammate get a [personal record] or watch them beat out a competitor at the last second, and we all share in the energy and excitement of such moments.
Bennet said that what makes Bates special is that “we really are a family in that our team complement each other in every event group from the throws to the distance events. Everyone is out on the track supporting each other, and this generates an atmosphere that encourages the success of our team as a whole.”
That energy seems to be working since, as of now, both teams have strong performers from sprinters to distancers, and jumpers to pole vaulters.