NEWPORT — The Nokomis Regional High School field hockey team ended its first practice as state champion the same way it ended its first practice as a regional runner-up. With a mile run on the track.

The Warriors won their first field hockey state championship last fall, beating York 2-0 to take the Class B title.

“I’m always excited about every season,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson said as her team ran laps. “This is a fun time of the year for me. They (the team) look forward to it too, I think.”

Monday was the first day of practice for high school cross country, field hockey, football, golf, and soccer teams across the state. The season begins Sept. 2.

“We’re ready to get going,” Nokomis senior Leah Edmondson said. “I’m excited to see what the season brings.”

Added senior Marissa Shaw: “We’re excited to get back together as a team.”

Putting the success of last season aside to focus on this one will be key for the Warriors.

“It’s not like we’re state champs now,” Edmondson said. “We’ve got to do it again, a game at a time.”

Thompson made sure to not change her approach to these early practices at all.

“This time of the season, the focus is on fundamentals,” Thompson said. “Even the best players need a refresher on the fundamentals.”

Nokomis’ quest for a second consecutive title is just one of the stories to watch in central Maine high school sports this fall. Others include:

* Skowhegan returns a majority of the players who won the Class A field hockey title last fall. The Indians lost just two seniors to graduation.

* Now a senior, Madison’s Matt McClintock will go for his third straight Class C cross country championship. Last season, McClintock’s time of 16 minutes, 0.91 seconds was the fastest time of any runner on state championship Saturday.

* A few football teams find themselves in new leagues this fall. Mt. Blue goes from the Pine Tree Conference Class A to the league’s Class B division, while Madison, which includes Carrabec players on its roster, moves up from the Campbell Conference Class C to the PTC B. Winslow High School, one of the top teams in Class B over the last 20 years, moves to Class C and will play in the Western Maine Campbell Conference.

* The Lawrence football team is coming off an undefeated regular season for the fourth time in five years. Upsets early in the playoffs have kept the Bulldogs out of the PTC A championship game since 2007.

* The Waterville girls soccer team lost prolific scorer Jordan Pellerin to graduation. Now at the University of Maine, Pellerin scored 171 goals for the Panthers, including 39 last season. Consistently one of the top programs in the state, Waterville will no doubt have some players ready to fill that offensive void.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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