Shire track athletes prepare for new season

HOULTON, Maine — It is a new era for the Houlton High School track and field program.

Now that the team has achieved full varsity status, long-time coach Chris Rines is excited for the start of a new season. And with a large returning group of track athletes, it is easy to understand that excitement.

Harris Gray, a senior at Houlton Middle-High School, practices his shot put technique during a Saturday afternoon practice in the high school parking lot. The Shires are embarking on their first season as a full varsity track program after five years as a club sport. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

The RSU 29 school board officially approved track and field as a varsity sport at its Dec. 3 meeting.

“We are very much looking forward to all the benefits that come with varsity status this season,” Rines said. “Our previous five years as a club sport have been fantastic and moving up in classification allows us to really evolve what we offer as a program and can do for our athletes.”

Like most spring sports, the winter has not been kind to the Shires. Most of the team’s runners have been able to train on the roads, but the jumpers and throwers are still confined to indoor workouts.

“We’re certainly looking forward to hitting the track this spring as we have quite a few talented individuals returning to the sport accompanied with some great new talent in our first time athletes,” the coach said.

With the exception of one addition from the Christian Academy, who trains with the Shires but competes as an individual, every eligible track athlete is returning from a year ago.

“We once again are accepting students from GHCA to train with us, but as usual they will compete representing their own school,” Rines said. “We retain the same coaching staff from last year, which will help us immensely. We are looking forward for the snow to clear so we can really get into the intricacies of our events.”

Track athletes include freshmen Elena Ardell, Isabella Ardell, Makenna Cooley, Samantha Johnson, Trinity Randall, Aliya Sabattis-Webber, Jayden Swimm and Daniel Ross; sophomores Emma Ardell, Emmalyne Drake, Zach Conley, Drew Foley (Manager), C.J. Violette and Jeremy Stone (GCHA); juniors Isabelle Cosby, Elizabeth Phillips, Jeannelle Ross, Will Belyea, Ean Bolstridge, Eli Bulley, Cameron Callnan, Matthew Jimenez, Miguel Jimenez and Teagan Ewings (GHCA); and seniors Tessa Solomon, Lauren Swimm, Harris Gray, Donald Ouellette, Isaac Potter (GHCA) and Cole Winslow (GHCA).

Captains for 2019 are Winslow, Potter, Ouellette, Solomon, Lauren Swimm, and Ewings.

The coach said Ewings (1,600 meter and 3,200 events) and Drake (1,600) are two athletes he expects big things from this spring.

“Both young ladies had strong cross country seasons and have had a great start to the track season so far this year,” Rines said. “Both have previous state meet experience in both XC and track and will be two likely qualifiers for the state meet again this year.”

Others to watch include Emma Ardell (300 meter hurdles, 100 hurdles, 100 meter dash); Winslow (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles); Solomon (discus, javelin, and shot put); Callnan (javelin); and Cooley (triple jump).

Assisting Rines are Francis Frederick, Alissa Beals and William Janakis.

The Shires open the season at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in Bangor.

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