WEST NEWBURY — Three or four days a week, the Pentucket boys indoor track team trains around a 290-yard rectangle “track” better known as the hallway around the perimeter of Pentucket Regional Middle School.
This serves as a step in the right direction, according to those associated with the program.
It’s all a matter of perspective, and the Sachems have a positive one after becoming an official varsity program after three years as a club team. For the first time in school history, the Pentucket boys will be able to compete in varsity meets. Over the past three years, Pentucket’s club team, which included a couple of the top runners in the Cape Ann League during the outdoor track season, was resigned to competing in junior varsity competitions.
“Going to a JV meet, some of us didn’t have the competition we wanted to push ourselves,” said junior Drew Capener, who was a member of the Pentucket club team each of the last two seasons. “It was a weird dynamic where we would dominate other teams in JV meets because we should have competed at the varsity level.”
Darrel Cox, who also serves as the head coach of the Pentucket boys cross-country team, will serve as the indoor track coach. He ran the club team with about 30 athletes over the last three years while waiting for Pentucket to add another girls program so that the boys indoor track program could become an official varsity sport in accordance with Title IX.
“Until we added another girls program, we could not add the team even though there’s been a girls program for nine years,” Cox said. “Girls hockey formed a coop, so we got off the ground. We’ll see what happens.”
The team had 41 members as of Wednesday’s practice, although Capener and the former club team members are continuing to recruit during school hours. With the designation as a varsity program, the boys team has seen added time in the Pentucket Regional High mini-gym and the weight room.
“It’s definitely different,” Capener said. “I know when we were a club team we could only practice three days a week. We didn’t have access to a lot of the equipment. We can do the high jump and use the weight room now, and we’ve gotten new kids every day.”