Olivia Jalbert practices her javelin throw at Edward Little High School in Auburn on April 7, before the spring sports season was canceled. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories about the effects of the cancellation of the spring sports season.

For track and field athletes who participate in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, the winter indoor season sometimes acts as a precursor to what the athlete will accomplish during the spring. 

That’s how the 2020 outdoor track season was shaping up for Edward Little senior Olivia Jalbert. 

Olivia Jalbert of Edward Little High School will throw the javelin and the discus at Saturday’s Class A outdoor state track meet at Lewiston High School. She will also compete in the high jump. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The KVAC Class A indoor champion in the long jump and the high jump — and a top-four finisher at the state championship meet in both events — Jalbert was primed to improve her marks in both events, as well as javelin and discus, during outdoor track. 

When the outdoor season began to look like it might be in jeopardy due to the coronavirus outbreak, Jalbert kept training.

“It may seem kind of odd, but I’ve felt more motivated than ever since schools have shut down,” Jalbert said. “I realized that I might lose my last season of high school track, and if there was going to be any season I needed to be ready to go out and compete.” 

Angie Jalbert, Olivia’s mother and an Edward Little assistant track coach, said she was proud to see all the training that her daughter did on her own. 

“It was definitely hard to watch, knowing that we probably were not going to have (a season), but at the same time, I know she also does it because she truly loves it and has a passion for the sport,” Angie Jalbert said. 

Olivia Jalbert said that training on her own was difficult, especially the high jump. It also happens to be the event for which she had one of her biggest goals heading into the outdoor season. After breaking the school record for the indoor season — with a leap of 5 feet, 3.25 inches — she was hoping to add her name to the outdoor track record book, with her eyes on clearing 5-4.25. She also wanted to secure a top-two spot in the event at states, and to do the same in javelin as well. 

The javelin was another event that Jalbert had lofty goals for. She wanted to improve her personal best by 14 feet — from 112 feet, 1 inch to 126 feet — which would qualify her for the national championship meet. Beyond that, she had her sights set on a throw of more than 137 feet, 11 inches, which is the school record set in 1996 by Angie Jalbert’s high school friend and teammate, Cristen Wanser.

“That’s definitely a mark I would be striving to achieve,” Olivia said. 

Olivia had PR goals in her other two outdoor events as well, with hopes of breaking the 100-foot barrier in the discus and the 17-foot mark in the long jump, according to her mother, who has helped coach Olivia since she started participating in Auburn Rec’s summer track program when she was 7 years old. 

Those PRs are now just “what-ifs.” Jalbert won’t get the chance to improve on what she did last outdoor season or the recently completed indoor season, which is now the final sports season of her high school career, now that the Maine Principals‘ Association canceled the spring sports season. 

Olivia Jalbert of Edward Little throws the javelin at last year’s Class A track and field state championships in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“It wasn’t unexpected, but I just kept staying positive and hopeful until it was canceled for sure,” Olivia Jalbert said. “It still was very disappointing when I found out, and it was hard realizing what all the seniors were going to miss out on.”

For Jalbert and her 11 senior teammates on the Edward Little girls team, that could have meant a fourth KVAC team title. 

“I’ve had all 12 seniors for four years and it’s heartbreaking for them not being able close out their final lap of their senior year,” Red Eddies head coach Rebecca Hefty said. 

“I was excited to see (Olivia) lead the underclassmen because she is a great mentor and leads by example,” Hefty added. “I am heartbroken for all the kids, but especially the seniors, as they have worked really hard for three years and always look forward to their senior year.” 

Jalbert said her previous three years of track “were huge preparation for what I wanted to come in and do this year. You learn a lot the first seasons and gain a lot of experience with hopes that it can lead you to a great senior year.” 

Angie Jalbert said it’s heartbreaking for her to see Olivia miss out on a senior outdoor season, both as a coach and a mother. As a coach, because of the goals that could have been achieved. As a mother, because of the time and energy she saw her daughter put in to trying to achieve those goals. 

“To see her set goals and work hard towards them, but then for her to not get that opportunity to try and reach them, it just rips my heart out,” Angie said. 

“She would have been a powerhouse, not only during the regular season, but also the championships meets,” Hefty said. 

Jalbert won’t get the chance to prove show that power. At least not for Edward Little this season. 

But that doesn’t mean she has stopped training. 

“The worst thing any athlete could do right now is to get out of shape,” Jalbert said. “Even now, knowing this season has been canceled, it is still important to stay in shape and prepare for the next seasons to come. At this point I know I’m not training for a spring season, I’m training to get a head start on my college seasons.” 

Jalbert said she is planning on attending University of Southern Maine and continuing her track career there. 


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