The most meaningful track meet involving Lewiston and Edward Little High Schools in recent memory took on a whole new meaning Friday after both teams learned that their only head-to-head meeting of the regular season was postponed until Monday.
What could have been a fun, spirited and intense preview of an expected showdown at the KVAC Championships in a week, has now turned into a last-ditch effort for both teams to qualify athletes in certain events.
“We haven’t had a meet since May 5,” said EL girls’ coach Rebecca Hefty. “This weather is ridiculous. We’re lucky we picked up the Waterville Relays as an event, otherwise we would have run in just two meets this year.”
“We have no way to gauge where we’re at relative to the other teams,” said EL boys’ coach Ryan Laroche. “We can run time-trials against each other in practice, but that says nothing about the adrenaline of a competitive meet, and how each athlete will respond.”
The build-up within both teams has been unrivaled, too. Last week, Lewiston distance runners ran to Edward Little and did some grand-standing at the Auburn school. Monday, at a Lewiston home meet, the Edward Little team responded.
“This is great for both teams, and what’s just as good is that there is also respect there,” said Laroche.
The teams will have to wait until Monday to back up their barbs with athletic actions. Meanwhile, Lewiston coach Ray Putnam is more comfortable with his team’s standing right now than many other KVAC schools.
“We ran all of our meets this year,” said Putnam. “We haven’t lost a meet yet to the weather, but both of our home meets have been in terrible conditions. But that’s me being stubborn and thinking we had to get it in. Now, we’re sitting pretty good with qualifying.”
Still, both sides agree Monday’s meet, which will no longer include Oxford Hills or Mt. Blue as it would have Friday, will take on a different tone. Monday is also the night of the KVAC’s last chance qualifying meet, and both teams will forego that chance to face each other head-to-head.
“There are certain athletes we still need to qualify in certain events,” said Laroche. “That’s now going to be the main focus of Monday’s meet.”
“This group has worked so hard,” said Hefty. “We haven’t had a day off yet, but (Friday) we were all just so frustrated that we sent everyone home. We need to get something in to let them know how they’re doing. They work hard, they want to see those pay off in official results.”
Some athletes who would normally be highlighted in certain events will have to skip those in favor of qualifying in another event, too.
“There’s going to be a lot of moving around I think neither team is really expecting,” said Putnam. “We’re forced to change our 400 and 800 around to make sure some kids qualify.”