Thinking outside box, Gould, Panthers host two-mile racePanther coach finds new way to gear up for fall running season
Waldoboro — Leave it to veteran Medomak Valley High School cross-country coach George Gould to come up with a unique format for a local preseason race.
Who needs a traditional 2.9-, 3.0- or 3.1-mile distance to have a little fast-footed fun? Apparently not Gould or the young runners set to blaze across the course on the Waldoboro-based school's campus.
Thus, the Panther coach will realize a longtime dream of hosting a preseason cross-country meet on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. at the school.
And, the event will be a two-mile distance, which should make for interesting and fast races.
Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston, Camden Hills, Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, Waterville and Erskine Academy of South China will compete in the meet. Those teams all had "enough faith in us to try something different," Gould said.
In the past, Medomak Valley and many other teams around the state attended the still ongoing preseason Laliberte Invitational meet, hosted by Cony High School in Augusta, this year on Friday, Aug. 30.
"Cony was the only preseason meet and I felt that meet had grown so big that it lost what we were looking for," Gould said. "Their format runs boys and girls together and the size, in numbers, is the largest cross-country meet in the state. So often, we would bring freshmen and this would be their first experience as a high school runner. For most of these young runners it was not a good experience. We wanted to have a meet with less pressure but still challenge the best runners."
Gould said he asked Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference coaches to have an additional preseason race in Waldoboro and league officials agreed.
"It is two miles because we wanted all the athletes to be able to compete and have something to build on as the season progresses," the coach said. "For the best runners this will be a true speed workout ... We will see some fast times."
All records will be compiled and be there for those to challenge for years to come.
"We are not going to score the meet teamwise as we want to have more focus on each runner," Gould said. "We will give medals to the top seven finishers in each class — freshman, sophomore, junior and senior."
Gould said the greater Panther cross-country family, including parents in charge of providing food and drinks for the runners, to other coaches and student-athletes, will help make this event a success.
The coach said School Administrative District 40 athletic director Matt Lash was instrumental in his support of the event and paving the way to gain league approval for the meet.
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media 30 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon.
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