High school indoor track

Diversity abounds: Oceanside attracts from Midcoast and far off lands

Mariner program includes student-athletes from Peru, Thailand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Albania and United States
By Ken Waltz | Feb 08, 2019
Courtesy of: Michael McGuire Members of the Oceanside High School indoor track team include, front from left, Elyane Gustafson, Maria Protheroe, Aha Thamrongleeraha, Corbin Farnham, Andry Sermeno, DagbjoertJensdottir and Ruby Jovin; middle row, assistant coach Elsie Mason, Matthew Young, Igli Bixhaku, Jacob Curtis and Alex Mahar; and back, Deklin Fitzgerald, Chris Carroll, Annaliese Poisson and head coach Shawn Anderson. Not pictured are Anthony Radsimirski, Luca Sileeti, James Weinand, Geovanny Garcia Downing and assistant coach Ellen Spring.

Rockland — The Oceanside High School indoor track team always has provided an alternate outlet for those students who wanted to tackle a non-basketball winter sport. And the Mariner program continues to attract independent athletes from neighboring schools — and youngsters with home roots far from the rugged coast of Maine.

To say the Mariner team, led by head coach Shawn Anderson and assistant coaches Ellen Spring and Elsie Mason (a former Tiger indoor track athlete), has an international flavor and flair would be, well, an understatement.

The program, which started and flourished at the former Rockland District High School, has 18 Oceanside student-athletes, and two independents from Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Camden Hills, respectively.

Among the Mariners are a bundle of international students.

Diversity abounds among the many events an athlete may try in the sport and among the athletes who compete.

Of course, indoor track for Oceanside is interesting because all the local athletes must practice in the gymnasium, in the school hallways and even outdoors. Then, once a week those band of athletes hit the road to participate in league meets at Bowdoin College in Brunswick or Colby College in Waterville, or other venues such as Bates College in Lewiston or the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

It is during those times at the colleges when area athlete get to actually run on an indoor track or jump in a real sand pit.

The Mariner girls include Dagbjoert Jensdottir of Iceland (throws), Annaliese Poisson (throws), Elayne Gustafson (sprints), Maria Protheroe (mid-distance runner) and manager Ruby Jovin.

The Mariner boys include Jacob Curtis (thrower), Alex Mahar (mid-distance runner), Anthony Radsimirski (throws), Luca Siletti (sprints, throws), Matthew Young (distance), Chris Carroll (throws), Corbin Farnham (sprints, jumps), James Weinand (mid-distance runner), Deklin Fitzgerald (sprints), Noramit Thamrongleeraha of Thailand (sprints, throws), Geovanny Garcia Downing of Costa Rica (throws), Andry Sermeno of Peru (mid-distance runner) and Igli Bixhaku of Albania (mid-distance runner).

Camden Hills is represented by brothers Sam Hebert and Aidan Hebert, both jumpers, while Medomak Valley is represented by Serena Blasius (runner) and Alexis Parent (mid-distance runner).

Mason said the team, with so much diversity, has "inclusiveness and teamwork. The team is made up of six different nationalities — Peru, Thailand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Albania and United States — and works with three school districts (Medomak Valley, Camden Hills, Oceanside)."

She said it is wonderful to see high school students from neighboring, in fact, athletically rival schools, working together, as well as with teenagers from other cultures and countries.

"It has been a pleasure coaching here at Oceanside," said Anderson. "Track is universal. The diversity makes it exciting and teaching students a sport they may have never tried before, and excel at, is amazing. Last year we had a young man from Japan who was one of our top [javelin] throwers [in outdoor track], and our top 100-meter runner. This year, we had a young man throw shot from Costa Rica, whom never threw before. Each meet he has improved. Our top 55-dash runner for girls is from Iceland."

Anderson also said having athletes from other schools participate is a bonus.

"As for coaching [student-athletes from] a rival school ... 'A rising tide raises ships.' That is what the Medomak girls have done for their program and for ours," Anderson said. "They make our team faster and stronger, and develop bonds with the other athletes on the team. And to see them reach levels they are capable of, well, that is one of the reasons I coach."

In fact, Mason did a survey of the athletes to find out why indoor track attracted them and what was their favorite part of the team.

Dagbjoert said "socializing with other teammates and learning how to throw" the shot put were important to her.

"My favorite part of the sport is that it gives you the chance to show off the talents you have, and my favorite part of the team is just meeting new people and having them act as a second family almost," Poisson said.

Jovin was happy "to be part of the team," while Blasius said she joined "with the hope of advancing my running with an additional season of competition as well through the comradery of teammates outside my own school." She added she enjoys "the opportunity to train with students outside of my own school and compete in a sport I enjoy."

Parent said she is thankful for an opportunity to run on an indoor track. "My favorite part of the sport is just being able to run. My favorite part of the team would have to be the wonderful people and coaches."

Mahar said he originally joined track because of his brother and found it "a whole lot less stressful than other sports." He said he enjoys the "focus on self-improvement and only having to compete with myself. I enjoy the team because we are such a close and diverse group; we're always having a good time."

Farnham said it is the "teamwork" that pleases him most, while Sermeno decided to do track to "improve my speed and also meet new people," as he added the bonus of "working as a team and getting along with everyone."

Bixhaku said he likes outdoor activities and had heard indoor track can be competitive, but he most enjoys "spending time with my teammates and challenging each other."

Along the way, the diverse group learns much about themselves, about others and how to help each other realize the personal and athletic success each strives to achieve.

"I am looking forward to what this diverse, fun team can achieve in the future," Anderson said.

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