If the past two tournaments are any indication, this year’s 3rd annual Hall-Dale High School Bulldog Invitational tennis tournament should be a big draw. The brainchild of Hall-Dale boys coach Dan Bence and girls coach Guy Cousins, the tournament drew 12 competitors two years ago.

“Twenty-four was our goal last year, and we ended up with 42,” Bence said.

The tournament is for high school boys and girls and includes singles and doubles teams. It will be held May 3, beginning at noon at Hall-Dale and the Buker courts in Augusta. Players from several schools in central Maine participated.

“It’s early in the season,” Bence said. “It gives kids a chance to see competition they wouldn’t see in the regular season.”

Those players who plan on taking SAT exams on May 3 will be given later starting times, Bence said.

Each player is guaranteed at least two matches and will receive a T-shirt. The entry fee is $15 plus a new can of tennis balls. Trophies will be awarded to winners in each division. Those interested in entering should call Bence at 624-2560.

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Maranacook softball coach Don Beckwith is familiar with the advantages of dropping a class in competition while maintaining his old schedule. His Black Bear soccer team dropped to Class C last fall but retained its schedule in the Class B division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. It worked out well as the Black Bears won the Class C state championship.

Boys and girls basketball teams also benefited from the change in class and made deep runs into the postseason tournament.

Beckwith figures five to seven wins in Class B would get his softball team into the Class C tournament, but those wins may be tough to come by. First, the KVAC is a tough conference, especially in softball.

“I think (KVAC) softball is the toughest league in the state,” Beckwith said.

Second, Beckwith is dealing with injuries to junior outfielder Kaitlyn Chick and sophomore third baseman Sydney Cameron. Both may return before the season is over, but it could be too late. Pitching is also an issue.

“We’ll probably pitch by committee,” Beckwith said. “We’re going to have to work for five to seven (wins).”

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It’s a shame the Cony and Gardiner softball teams don’t meet in the regular season.

Last year, both teams went 15-1, Cony in Class A and Gardiner in Class B. Fans who want to see how the rivals stack up against one another can do that Friday when they meet in an exhibition game at Cony at 4 p.m. If the field at the high school is too wet, the game will be played at one of the fields on the Piggery Road in Augusta.

Gardiner returns a number of starters, including the 1-2 pitching punch in senior Brittany Rollins and junior Kristal Smith. Cony graduated pitcher and Gatorade Player of the Year Sonja Morse but returns a solid group of hitters. The Rams will look to junior Arika Brochu to take over on the mound. Brochu’s cousin, Bri, is one of the top hitters for the Tigers.

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Kelley Cullenberg finally saw red at Mt. Blue High School today and, for a moment, couldn’t have been happier.

“We’ve seen considerable amounts of snow disappear, but as I was driving onto campus today I saw red and got all excited,” Cullenberg said Tuesday. “Then I looked further on, and there’s still a little less than half of it covered and it’s ice.”

The ‘it’ Cullenberg is referring to is the new outdoor track at Mt. Blue where, due to weather, her boys and girls outdoor track teams have yet to practice. To make matters worse, the forecast called for about another inch of snow overnight from Tuesday into Wednesday.

“All you can do is laugh at this point,” Cullenberg said.

Fortunately for the Cougars, the weather seems to be looking up going forward and Cullenberg is hoping the team will be practicing on the track by early next week.

While that will be the first time for the outdoor track team to practice on it, they will not be the first team to use the track.

“Sometime in the second week of October the cross country team was able to get on,” Cullenberg said. “We were excited and wanted to be on the track, and we were actually able to get in a couple of workouts.”

Until the rest of the snow and ice is cleared, however, the Cougars will be in the same shape as many teams in the area; forced to practice indoors or on any clear space they can find.

Cullenberg did say that even when the track is cleared they will not have any meets at Mt. Blue this season, as they still need to find areas for the throwers and a triple jump pit, among other things.

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There will be some fresh faces in familiar places when the outdoor track season kicks off this week — so to speak.

At Madison, Tobin Curtis will be taking over as co-head coach this spring for Matt Keister after serving as an assistant last spring. Curtis — who will primarily be working with the sprinters — will be joined by Robert Saucier, who will work primarily with the distance runners.

According to Curtis, a veteran group of athletes has made the transition an easy one.

“It’s been very smooth,” Curtis said. “We have a great group of kids and a lot of returners, so it was kind of easy to step in and take over.”

Ken Nadeau may be the new outdoor track coach at Winslow, but he’s tapped into a number of former Black Raiders to help out this spring.

“We were reaching out to see what else we can get for help,” Nadeau said. “We kind of beefed up our coaching staff.”

Former Winslow head coach Rod Record and assistant Jeff Whitman, as well as Cheryl Winkin, will be assistants with Nadeau in what the first-year coach believes will be one of the strengths of this season’s team.

Over at Gardiner, Hillary Wing is in her first week as the Tigers’ new head coach as she takes over for Keenan Blindow, who left to take a teaching job in Orono.