Gloucester Fishermen Girls Track and Field '08

The track at Gloucester High School has fallen into disrepair again and is unusable for meets and practices. Despite the setback, the Gloucester boys outdoor team continues to dominate, winning their 11th NEC title in 15 seasons. » Mike Dean, Staff Photographer

Gloucester track still winning yet without a home

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Friday, May, 23 By Nick Curcuru

Jim Munn led his Gloucester boys track team to Newell Stadium for a routine middle of the season practice.

Although the practice may have seemed normal, there was actually nothing routine about it as the team could not practice on its own track. The pothole laced track that circles around the Newell Stadium football field has been condemned and cannot be used for either practices or meets for the boys and girls track squads.

This has caused a real inconvenience for the teams as they have had to compete in all of their meets on the road.

"It's very frustrating and hard to figure out," Munn said of the track's problems. "It's most frustrating because this is a great sports town. We do what we have to do and we would travel 60 miles every day to compete, but it's nice to have meets at home, getting on a bus all the time gets a little old."

Training for the distance runners has been affected the most. Sprinters can run on small parts of the track that aren't damaged, but the distance runners have to find other ways to keep their times down. While it may be a hindrance, Gloucester runners have seemingly made the best of it and managed to keep performing at a high level. Just recently, the Gloucester boys team won the Northeastern Conference small division.

"Our training has been affected," Gloucester captain Liam Anastasia-Murphy said. "It hasn't been affected enough to hurt us in races, it's more of an inconvenience. We are making the best out of it and our mind set has not changed."

Not having a home has also cost the program money. The track boosters are not able to run a concession stand during home meets. Munn says the concession is usually very successful and not seeing any money from it will no doubt hurt.

"This really hurts the boosters because they raise a lot of money for the program," Munn said. "The boosters are a big part of the program and it will really hurt the program if they can't raise as much money as possible."

So how does a program that's so successful and rich in tradition not have a home when other schools such as Lynn, Saugus and Swampscott have new facilities? It is a combination of the city's budget troubles and the fact that the track is not regulation size.

"If anything were to be fixed it would have to be Newell Stadium as a whole." Gloucester girls track coach JD MacEachern said. "The bleachers and the field also need work done on them and there is no point in fixing the track because it isn't regulation size. The solution is to fix everything: the bleachers, the field and the track, and the city just doesn't have the money. I don't see anything changing in my coaching lifetime."

MacEachern pointed though that city officials have been extremely cooperative.

"Mayor Bell was cooperative and Mayor Kirk has been too," MacEachern said. "But fixing Newell Stadium is either on the bottom of the priorities list or not on the list at all and we understand that. The city is in a money crunch and they have much more important things to spend money on."

All in all the Fishermen boys and girls have made the best of a tough situation. Although both teams are plagued by a low participation rate, they have been as successful as they could possibly be.

"The kids have been great," Munn said. "It would be easy to let something like this get to you but we have been focused and competing all season, they do a great job."

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