The Bryant University field hockey team started its preseason Saturday, and it couldn’t have come any sooner for former Skowhegan standout MaKayla Hancock, who is four months removed from right knee surgery.

“I am ready to come back,” said Hancock, a defender for the Bulldogs who tore her anterior cruciate ligament during a spring game in April. “It’s good to be back. I’ve been waiting for awhile.”

Hancock, a junior back, started 13 of Bryant’s 18 games last season. She said she hopes to be cleared for full contact sometime in September.

“Right now, I’m running and playing but I can’t do the contact stuff,” Hancock said. “I have a followup soon and I hope to be cleared. The knee feels great. It’s actually a lot stronger than the other one.”

Bryant, in Smithfield, R.I., went 8-10 last season.

“We’re definitely a young team,” said Hancock, a 2009 Skowhegan High graduate. “It’s exciting to see what we have coming in. It’s a new year, a new team.”

* * *

Harlow Hadd, one of the top distance runners in the state while at Messalonskee High School, arrived at Purdue University last weekend. Ladd, along with Madison graduate Matt McClintock, will run for the Boilermakers this fall.

“I’m so excited to be here,” Ladd said. “I got the dorm room all set up and have walked around the campus. I’ve trained so much harder than I ever have.”

Ladd said he’s running up to 60 miles a week.

“I usually do 45 at this time,” he said. “It’s a big jump for me. I’m tired all the time and it kind of (stinks). But I’m all set.”

* * *

Alonzo Connor isn’t quite sure what to expect when he arrives at American International College in Springfield, Mass., this week.

“I’m excited and nervous,” he said. “I just want to get there and show them what I can do.”

Connor received a partial athletic scholarship to play at Division II AIC, which competes in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Yellow Jackets went 6-4 last season for longtime coach Art Wilkins.

Connor, a said he looked at a few other Division II and Division III schools before deciding AIC was the best fit.

“I’ve been there a few times and I like the campus a lot,” he said. “It’s a good program and they said they want me on the field, which is a good thing. It was one of the reasons I want to be there.”

Connor said that he bulked up to 193 pounds this summer in preparation for the collegiate grind. He weighed about 182 his senior season at Gardiner.

“I’m ready to get going,” he said.

* * *

Abby Mace started her offseason running program logging 35 miles a week. She’s up to 50 miles a week now as she prepares for her trip to the UConn next week.

“I’ve done a lot of base training,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of easy training. I started out doing the same mileage I did in track season and just upped it from there. By the end of the summer I’ve been doing some heavy duty speed work.”

Mace heads to Storrs, Conn., on Aug. 20. UConn will compete in its first meet Sept. 8 in Dartmouth, N.H.

Mace, a Maranacook graduate, said that race will help determine where she will be competing this season.

“There are meets for the top 10 on the team and there are meets for those not in the top 10,” Mace said. “I’ll be running in meets, I just don’t know which ones. I think for freshman year I will try to focus on getting adjusted and improving times. We’ll see how it goes.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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