WATERVILLE — Spring is all about renewal, which made the 11th Annual David Whyte Memorial Relays the perfect way to kick off the high school track and field season on Thursday.

In the spirit of the season and the event, Lawrence sophomore Spencer Lessner decided to try something new on Thursday. Normally a javelin and discus thrower, Lessner asked coach Tim Alberts if he could, for the first time in his life, try distance running.

“I’ve been trying to get into CrossFitting. I’m mostly just a weightlifter, so I thought since I’m doing track, why not do some running?” Lessner said.

He entered the mile, figuring it would be “pretty easy,” he said.

“Today I figured out that it wasn’t,” he said. “But I pushed myself through all four laps.”

Lessner led after the first quarter-mile, making the same mistake many novice runners make of starting out too fast. He faded over the next 800 meters before hitting the wall on the final lap around Drummond Field. Yet that and the fact that his legs felt “like Jell-O” after the race didn’t dissuade him from wanting to try the event again.

“I’m probably going to keep doing it for the rest of the season,” he said.

While some teams have already had their first official meet of the season, the Waterville Relays serve as the season’s unofficial opener. The format provides a laid back atmosphere for track veterans to do some experimenting and novices to discover something about themselves.

“A lot of times, kids don’t know what they’re good at, especially if they’re new. So this a meet where they can try something different,” Alberts said. “The big thing about a relay is just having fun, and if, in the process, you place, that’s just gravy.”

Waterville senior Monica Paquette competed in the shot put, javelin and pole vault. She picked up where she left off in indoor track in the shot, tossing it 27 feet, 8 inches. She also picked up a javelin for the first time.

“Javelin was a learning experience for me because it was my first time throwing it,” she said. “I was actually training in it in indoor a little bit with the indoor stuff, but today was my first time actually throwing it for real and it was a great experience.”

Waterville coach Rob Stanton said the meet’s format often forces athletes to step out of their comfort zone in order for teams to get all of the events covered, “and in that process, you usually find some diamonds that you didn’t know were there.”

Mt. Blue may have found a sparkling 4×800 relay quartet in William Frederic, Dan Lesko, McKinley Goozey and Aaron Willingham, which cruised to victory in the event.

“We just kind of threw the team together at the last minute. We didn’t know what we were going to do,” said Frederic, a sophomore who ran a personal record in the first leg of the 4×800 and also compete in javelin and discus. “We didn’t get on our track until pretty late. We had to run around the outside of the school for a while. The last week-and-a-half we got out onto the track and had to run around some snow piles.”

Though the meet serves as a fun way to dive into the season, field event results did count towards conference and state meet qualifying. Gardiner assistant coach Joseph Fitzsimmons was among the many coaches who placed more emphasis on the throwing and jumping outcomes

“The field events were really the focus today,” Fitzsimmons said. “Some good things came out of the track, too. But we really paid more attention to the field than we did to the track. This is open to a lot of schools that we don’t normally compete with. Normally, we have three or four other schools in a meet. This really gives us a broad range of talent that’s out there.”

“This is our second meet,” added Fitzsimmons, whose Tigers competed at Mt. Ararat last week, “but still, it’s nice to be able to come out with this many people. It just kind of takes the pressure off. It’s a different kind of scoring atmosphere. You can really go out and just have fun with it.”

Organizers were concerned the recent wet weather would spoil the fun, but sunshine greeted the athletes when the first starting gun went off in the morning before giving way to occasional light showers in the afternoon.

“We just really lucked out with the weather,” Stanton said. “This is kind of a rust-buster for us, but it was a good way to get started.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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