UMFK

Track and field team joins Bengal athletics lineup

FORT KENT, Maine  — During an academic year that has thus far resulted in two national soccer championships and a record-breaking post-season men’s basketball win, the University of Maine at Fort Kent is setting its sights on a new track and field program.

Nearly 30 male and female students have signed up to take part in track and field, which the college launched in March as a club program. One of those students is Cameika Davis, originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica. A business management major, she was a defender on the 2016 NCAA National Championship UMFK Lady Bengals soccer team.

University of Maine at Fort Kent athletes George Safonov (left) and Valentina Green, participate in a track and field practice on Monday, April 10.
(Jessica Potila)

“I joined the UMFK track team for the experience. I like the idea of trying new things and seeing where it will take me. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try,” Davis said.

The UMFK freshman plans to run the 800 meter and also compete in the discus event.

“This isn’t my first time running track; I ran once when I was in Jamaica. I took part in Western Championships in Jamaica and made it to the finals,” she said.

This year the Bengal men and women track and field members will compete in one meet only, the USCAA Invitational National Championship in Delhi, New York.  

University of Maine at Fort Kent athlete Cameika Davis participates in a track and field practice on Monday, April 10.
(Jessica Potila)

Athletic Director Bill Ashby said that after conducting some research, he is confident that a track and field program at UMFK could attract 50 new students to Fort Kent on its own merits.

“I think it will fit naturally into our recruiting model,” he said. “Aroostook County has some very good track and field teams at the high-school level. Fort Kent produces some great sprinters. Caribou and Presque Isle have good teams.”  

He added that he also feels the program will be a “good draw for out-of-state kids,” as well as international students.

“We plan to lay our foundation this year and get the interest out there. Next year we’ll bring people in for it,” he said.

Helping to build a solid foundation by volunteering to coach the program this year are Ashby, along with UMFK athletic trainer Kyle Fisher and Wisdom High School soccer coach Oniqueky Samuels.

University of Maine at Fort Kent athlete Cameika Davis participates in a track and field practice on Monday, April 10.
(Jessica Potila)

Ashby said unpredictable northern Maine weather can present a challenge when training for a spring sport like track and field. When necessary, he said the program will adapt to include indoor training.

“We’ll make it work,” he said.  

International studies major George Safonov is new to track and field, and excited to take part in the program. The sophomore from Kyiv, Ukraine plans to compete in long distance running and possibly shot put.

“This is my first time. The reason why I joined is because this is the first track and field team UMFK ever had, and being part of this initiate is amazing,” he said. “This day, our first practice, will be in UMFK’s history. And being a part of that is simply extraordinary.”

UMFK will also add men’s and women’s tennis teams to their athletic department in the spring of 2018.

For more information about the UMFK track and field team contact Athletic Director Bill Ashby at 207-834-7571 or bill.ashby@maine.edu

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