Yana Montell was ready and excited to get to work as the Gardiner track and field team huddled for the first day of practice Monday. A junior, Montell finished third in the javelin at the Class B championships last year.

She just wished the season had started a week earlier.

“I think throwers can definitely benefit from an extra week,” Montell said. “Especially here at (Gardiner), we only have two coaches. So have that extra one-on-one time could help us. Throwing has a lot of technique to it, especially since we have discus and shot put and javelin, and they all have different techniques. That extra time could be very valuable.”

Monday marked the beginning of full squad practices for Maine high school spring sports teams. The first day for many baseball and softball players actually came March 20, when pitchers and catchers assembled for a week of conditioning.

The Maine Principals’ Association allows that extra week of work to help those players build arm strength.

With regular-season competition just weeks away, some track and field athletes and coaches say an extra week for their throwers would be just as pivotal.


“This is something we’ve been talking about in our program now for a couple years,” Hall-Dale head coach Jarod Richmond said. “Our throws coach, Jesse Rowe, has always talked about it. Now, it’s not just pitchers and catchers in softball, you can bring in as many kids as you want to work on that arm strengthening and conditioning. I understand that’s a fundamental part of baseball or softball, but (track) specialists who only do javelin, shot put and discus, it’s heavier objects and different mechanics. You don’t throw a javelin like you throw a football or a baseball. You certainly don’t do that with a shot put. Discus is its own animal.

“I always thought it would be a great thing to just bring in your throws kids (for a week) and just work on technique stuff,” Richmond added. “Getting their arms conditioned, right and ready for the season. You don’t want to see anyone get injured ever obviously. But the chance for injury is so much higher without the right technique, especially shot put.”

MPA director Mike Burnham said there have been discussions in the past regarding an extra conditioning week for track and field throwers, as well as for lacrosse goalies.

“That was a proposal that was sent to the (MPA) Sports Medicine Committee a few years ago, along with lacrosse goalies (having their own week),” Burnham said. “Because of the unique arm action, the Sports Medicine Committee felt that the conditioning of the arm separated the pitchers and catchers from the throwers and lacrosse goalies… The Sports Committee did recommend that those kids should be part in a conditioning program, they didn’t think they needed a week set aside. But there is certainly time between the winter and the spring season where those kids can start a true conditioning program to help them when the season got there.”

Maine Central Institute athletic director Jason Allen — who previously served as the school’s indoor and outdoor track coach — said every spring sports program should have a week of conditioning at the start of the season.

“I guess the argument is there’s not necessarily the strain as there is on throwing 100 pitches on a given day,” Allen said. “But certainly, there’s similar mechanics to throwing. Honestly, if we’re going to call it a conditioning week, why don’t we do a conditioning week for all sports? Not make it just arm conditioning. You can’t maybe do sport-specific stuff, but it’s a week for everybody to get in and do some conditioning. I guess the argument there is you can (do) conditioning programs — even in the hands-off period — if you’ve already started it, like you can in the summer and fall. I think it’s more of a tradition where it was always pitchers and catchers (starting first).”


MCI’s Heather Nelson uses a weighted ball while practicing shot put throwing technique during track and field practice Monday in Pittsfield. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Gardiner head coach Jen Boudreau agreed.

“I just don’t think (the start time) is equitable,” Boudreau said. “We’re throwing heavier objects. Our kids need to have strength and conditioning as well. I think (pitchers and catchers starting before all spring sports) is a thing of the past. I think all of the athletes need to focus on conditioning, not just softball and baseball. Even lacrosse, they need more conditioning time. If you’re going to give baseball and softball some time, why can’t all the spring sports have that (same start time)? We already have a shortened season as it is.”

“It almost seems silly to have that extra week,” Montell added. “Now it seems silly not to have that extra week, for throwers especially. How is throwing a javelin different than the tools you need to throw a softball or a baseball? It just seems strange.”

Austin Lizotte is a junior at Hall-Dale and is coming back from a torn labrum in his shoulder, which he suffered while performing the pole vault last spring, requiring surgery. The injury, which was made to his non-throwing shoulder, still hurt his throwing technique.

“It affected me during my summer workouts (for throws),” Lizotte said. “I would open up and my shoulder would just fall out.”

Lizotte added an extra week of conditioning could help alleviate the quick turnaround from the start of the season to meets.


“It would be better if we just all started (all spring sports) a week earlier,” Lizotte said. “You’d have more time to get everybody ready for the season, instead of just two weeks.”

MCI throwing coach Lincoln Robinson said an extra week of conditioning could help throwers from a safety perspective.

“I don’t think anybody would argue for more time,” Robinson said. “As far as getting (throwers) a chance to acclimate and not be rushed. But the reality is, we’re indoors (for the start of the season), so we’re not getting full throws in, per se. We’re going to turn around and have meets in two weeks. I feel like from a safety standpoint, getting a chance to have a longer time period to get them geared up for the season (would be beneficial).”

Owen Moore returns as one of the Huskies’ top throwers. A junior, Moore competes in the shot put, discus and javelin. Moore finished third in the discus at the Class C championships last year. He also competed for the indoor track team during the winter and also decided to play baseball this spring, doubling up sports for the season.

Moore said he can see the benefits of either having a week off or having an extra week to prepare for the season.

“I’ve never really thought about it, but it is kind of nice to have a week off,” Moore said. “We work so much throughout the season, building up to meets. Sometimes that extra week can be for a little more rest so you’re not dead for the first meet. But (a conditioning week) is a good thought, I’ve never thought of it before.”

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