Messalonksee High School senior Payton Arbour keeps her eye on the weather forecast, hoping for some warmer temperatures and steady rain. Anything that will help melt the snow and ice covering the new track at Messalonskee High School.

“We’re keeping track of the days it rains. Usually you don’t want the rain, but we want the rain to melt it all,” Arbour said.

Monday was the opening day of the high school spring sports season in Maine. Track and field, tennis, lacrosse, baseball, and softball got underway. For baseball and softball teams, Monday was the start of full team workouts after a week of throwing drills for pitchers and catchers.

Messalonskee High School runners, from left, Hunter Smart, Sami Benayad, Sarah Kohl and Peyton Arbour run in Oakland on the first day of practice Monday. Morning Sentinel photo by Dave Leaming

Like the Messalonskee track and field team, the school’s lacrosse squads are eager for the snow to melt so they can get on their new artificial turf field. On Monday, both Messalonskee girls and boys lacrosse teams practiced on the turf of Thomas College’s Bernatchez Field.

“We’re hoping to get on there next week. I can say this is my third season (as Messalonskee head coach) and I have never coached there,” Messalonskee girls lacrosse coach Crystal Leavitt said. “I think it will be cool to have that home crowd. Thomas has been absolutely amazing to us and they’ve taken care of us, but to be able to come out and not have to worry about rides and students will be able to watch the games right after school. To have our own space will be really cool.”

Messalonskee track and field coach Matt Holman said the new facilities have brought a buzz and excitement to the Eagles.

“It’s going to be a big learning year. We haven’t had to deal with a lot of these facility use issues other schools are used to. It’s going to be a lot of scheduling fine tuning and communication,” Holman said.

For now, practices begin as they do almost every spring, with sprints in the halls and distance runners putting in road work.

“We’re just doing a couple things. Our new athletes, we’re trying to evaluate and understand which group they may belong in. Sometimes they think they are a distance runner when they are a sprinter, or vice versa,” Holman said. “For the upperclassmen we really look at where are they? How strong are they? Are they ready to go? How do we improve from last year?”

Added Arbour, who set school records in the indoor mile and 2-mile as a member of the indoor track and field team this past winter: “I think we’re just looking for a good base layer. Distance runners want good endurance, strong cores and things like that. It’s good team bonding now. It’s all getting on the same page for what we want in the season.”

The Waterville boys tennis team has a new coach, Ken Boykin, who takes over a team that reached the Class B North regional final last season. While the Purple Panthers lost a couple strong players to graduation, Boykin said this week is about getting to know his team and beginning to match tactical plans for matches with each players abilities and strengths.

“Every year in high school is a rebuilding year, right?” Boykin said before the Panthers began practice at Champions Fitness Center. “We really haven’t defined any goals at this juncture. We did have a team meeting last week. I asked each of the boys to give me their individual goals and give me what they thought their goals should be for the team. We’ll go from that. From my perspective, first and foremost, it’s help the boys improve. With that improvement will come success, whether it’s this year or in successive years.”

Leaviit’s Messalonskee girls lacrosse squad also reached the regional final last year. With a number of key players lost to graduation, Leavitt said the first week of practice is about building team morale.

“We’re a young team. We’re small. I only have two returning seniors. I have a big junior class and a fairly large sophomore class. To get them to understand that everyone’s got to step up this season. Everyone’s got to put the ball in the back of the net. Everyone’s got to be a part of the whole journey at this point,” Leavitt said.

The Messalonskee girls lacrosse team opened Monday’s practice with a couple low intensity laps around Bernatchez Field. While the field was clear, snowbanks remained high around the outside of the fence surrounding it. Leavitt said she expects preseason practices to be chilly, and she reminded the team of a quote she read Monday morning, which said, it’s not the weather that’s unprepared.

“I told the girls from the get-go be warm. I’m going to try to keep them warm, get their muscles moving,” Leavitt said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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