OAKLAND — The Messalonskee track and field team can wear those “Undefeated At Home” T-shirts for another year.

Despite recent completion on a state of the art, $3.9 million track and artificial turf athletic complex, the school will not host a home track meet during the 2019 spring season. While the track itself is considered ready for competition, the cold, wet spring has left the natural grass areas planned for field events still several weeks away from being ready to host meets.

Messalonskee had planned on hosting several meets this season, including the Community Cup under the lights on May 17, for the first time since the 1980s. The Community Cup will now be held at Lawrence High School in Fairfield.

“The thing that is most disappointing is that we were excited to show everybody how nice the facility is,” Messalonskee track coach Matt Holman said. “When people get a chance to see it, they’re going to be really impressed. It’s one of the nicest facilities in the state.”

The turf field has already been used to host boys and girls lacrosse games. The track itself has been used for track and field practices, as has the pole vault area.

Workouts for throwing events have been moved to what previously served as Messalonskee’s field hockey field. Those events were expected to be held, at least in part, in an area below the new turf field where a practice football field formerly existed.

“In those areas, the grass just didn’t grow enough or grow in properly,” Messalonskee athletic director Chad Foye said. “It needs to be resurfaced and given a chance to grow again.

“The early winter and late spring we’ve had have just killed it.”

It would have been possible, Foye said, for Messalonskee to host meets this season with track events running as scheduled while searching for alternative solutions to allow for field events. A stretch of warmer, drier weather could also have allowed the field event areas to firm up — but at the risk of causing thousands of dollars worth of damage, Holman said.

School administrators and coaches decided it was not worth the risk.

For the current Messalonskee senior class, news of another year without a home track meet was especially difficult to hear.

“Overall, everyone’s kind of disappointed,” senior Peyton Arbour said. “We’ve just tried not to focus on it too much. You just keep working, racing, whether it’s the Community Cup or a regular season track meet. You try to treat them as just ‘meets.’ I’m never going to have a home meet (in my career), but the new track is there now and that’s all I can really ask for.”

Though there won’t be an official meet on the new track, there have been tangible results thanks to its availability, Holman said. The team conducts all of its workouts on the new track — which will get added layers of protective rubber this summer — instead of having to use what amounted to little more than a dirt path in years past.

“We’re out there every day, getting better and taking advantage of a first-class facility,” Holman said.

“The hardest part about it is the seniors. They came in during their freshman year and they had possibly the worst facility in the state. It was dangerous. It was an embarrassment. There had always been so much talk about ‘oh, there’s something in the works for a new facility’ and rumors about getting funding. It was a pipe dream, to be honest. I thought that was more cruel than anything else.”


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