FORT KENT, Me. (WAGM) - Building a program is kind of like building a house. Before you worry about the structure, the paint job, or where the furniture is going to go, you have to build a solid foundation. Without the strong foundation, nothing else really matters. In their first year of the track and field program, the University of Maine at Fort Kent is looking to finish the season on a high note and build momentum for the future.
"We have a small group, but a dedicated group," Head Coach Matt Dyer said.
Dyer's group is made of eight athletes, six men, and two women. As he builds the program, he's looking for athletes to buy in.
"It's really about the growth process for me, don't care if you're at a lower level, a middle level, a higher level coming in," Dyer said. "If you're doing the right things to get better, not only athletic performance-wise, but also commitment to the team, to the classroom and the community, et cetera."
Dyer has some high level athletes. This past weekend at Thomas College, the Bengals won five events, including the 4 by 100 relay, an event they had not participated in at prior meets.
"With such a small group, at the meet like the USCAA that we're going to in a couple of weeks," Dyer said. "Having some guys participate in multiple events, helps our chances as a team to score as many points as possible."
One of the athletes who had to go above and beyond was Saint-Elizabeth, Jamaica native Ajay Thompson. He's a high jumper and he won that event as well. UMFK is known for their Jamaican connection on the soccer field, but Thompson is telling his buddy's that Fort Kent is a great place to run track as well.
"I have a few teammates that's asked me how the experience has been and it's been good," Thompson said. "Working with the facilities we have and still performing well, my teammates are still performing well so it's the dedication that we have for it and work with what he have."
And Dyer is using the blueprint that the soccer teams use, but also attract more local athletes.
"We want to build a community where athletes from Jamaica can come up here and experience somewhere new but also have that sense of home that we were talking about," Dyer said. "We want that sense of our team, but we also want that with the Maine athletes, we want out of state students who are trying to experience something different in the United States, so we want a combination of both of those so we can build this team up to be something big."
Dyer and Thompson's biggest hurdle to building up the Bengals? Tune into NewsSource Sports tomorrow to find out.