WATERVILLE — Maeghan Bernard can’t believe the pace at which she and her teammates are setting records.

Every week, it seems, the list of new Thomas College track and field team marks being set gets longer and longer. Looking at post-meet results has become a good feeling for Bernard and the rest of the Terriers, who, in just their fourth year of existence, are still looking to make themselves known on the New England college track circuit.

“We might not have the best facility or as many athletes compared to the rest of the state, but that just makes us work even harder,” said Bernard, a Winslow High graduate who competes in hurdles, javelin, shot put and high jump for the Thomas women. “We know that, if we’re going to succeed, we’re going to have to push through that adversity.”

Both of those are things the Thomas track program has done over the course of the 2022 season. The challenges that have come with being a young program and operating during the pandemic have been plenty, but the Terriers are turning heads and topping podiums as the New England Division III championships approach.

Thomas launched its program in 2018-19 and quickly found success in its first year at the Division III level. Although the Terriers had a ragtag team of athletes during their inaugural campaign, the team rode its depth — 28 men’s athletes and 22 women’s athletes — to a pair of third-place finishes in the North Atlantic Conference championships.

The following year, though, COVID-19 changed everything. Thomas went a full year without competing, with the outdoor portion of the 2019-20 campaign being canceled and the 2020-21 season not beginning until last February. The team’s roster size, meanwhile, shrunk from 50 to 34.


Yet head coach Ian Wilson saw the roster attrition as a blessing in disguise. Whereas Thomas’ inaugural team was heavy on athletes who, in Wilson’s words, “liked to work out,” the team’s post-COVID roster consisted of committed track and field diehards.

“A lot of bad things came out of COVID, but one of the few good things that happened was that the kids who sort of were marginal on wanting to be here all quit,” Wilson said. “We were left with a smaller team, but every single kid who stuck it out through COVID worked really hard and loves the sport.”

Thomas College freshman Julia Reny warms up with a javelin during an indoor track and field practice in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

That’s been particularly evident in the team’s recent results. The Terriers have broken multiple program records in 12 straight meets dating back to the team’s Jan. 21 indoor meet at Bates College. That stretch included the Monks Invitational at Saint Joseph’s College on April 16 in Standish, in which Thomas set six program records and placed third of 14 teams.

The team has its fair share of veteran mainstays, such as all-North Atlantic Conference first-teamers Jarrod Hooper (men’s 800- and 1,500-meter runs) and Molly Walker (women’s discus and hammer throws). The team also has standout freshmen in ex-Cony star Julia Reny (second-team women’s 100-meter hurdles and javelin) and Gavyn Tower (second-team men’s discus and hammer).

There’s one Thomas athlete, ex-Winslow High star Jake Warn, who fits both the senior and newcomer labels. Warn transferred from St. Michael’s College in Vermont to join the school’s soccer program, but the former Morning Sentinel Track Athlete of the Year has wasted no time becoming a top competitor for the track program as well.

“I think kids putting up the numbers that they are is a big reason our energy level is so high this season,” said Warn, an all-NAC first-team triple jumper and second-team long jumper. “These are all high-level athletes, so it’s fun to be in that environment and get pushed every day.”


On Saturday, Warn (triple jump, 13.55 meters), Hooper (800, 1:58.21; 1,500, 4:04.87) and Walker (discus, 37.91 meters) set records in the NAC championships at SUNY Delhi. Both Thomas teams placed third with Hooper (800, 1,500), Walker (discus, hammer throw), Warn (triple jump) and Lionel Raye Jr. (long jump, 6.59 meters) earning event wins.

“It’s not just one or two people succeeding, it’s the whole program that’s succeeding and doing really well,” Reny said. “(Building a program) has to start somewhere, so for this group to be breaking so many records is unreal because it hasn’t been before and builds a good foundation for the future.”

Thomas College junior Molly Walker practices the discus during an indoor track and field practice on April 27 in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

That future will soon become event brighter for Thomas with the university making a number of key investments in the track program and the athletic department as a whole. A new athletic facility is set to open on campus this fall, and the current Harold Alfond Athletic Center will see the additions of a long jump pit and pole vault box.

“They’re investing in the program, and I think that commitment from the college is something else that these guys have earned,” Wilson said. “They wouldn’t be investing in a team that had 15 or so marginal athletes. They’re investing because it’s becoming a large team of accomplished athletes.”

A few years down the road, Wilson expects to have a fully rebuilt roster that combines its current individual talent with the depth the program needs to compete for team championships. Only six members of this year’s team are seniors, paving the way for the roster to grow with the incoming class of athletes.

In the meantime, Thomas athletes will compete in the New England Division III championships Friday and Saturday at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It’s the perfect stage, Bernard said, for the Terriers to have their best weekend yet.

“It’s exciting, but it’s definitely nerve-wracking, too,” Bernard said. “We just have to finish strong for one more meet. We’ve been setting all these records, and we want to keep that momentum going.”

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