On this episode of the Bobcast, we are taking a look at the strong start to the season for the track and field teams. Plus, the swimming and diving programs defeated Middlebury on the road Sunday and the Bobcats' top women's squash player was honored by the NESCAC. All that and more...
Interviews this episode:
- 1:33 -- Tommy Verdell, Assistant men's basketball coach & Assistant Athletic Director
- 6:42 -- Emmy Daigle '20, Women's Swimming (Female Bobcat of the Week)
- 12:54 -- Ryan Nealis '21, Men's Track and Field (Male Bobcat of the Week)
- 19:33 -- Luca Polgar '20, Women's Squash NESCAC Player of the Week
- 25:37 -- Joe Gillis '21, Men's Alpine Skiing
- 30:41 -- Maya Seckinger '21, Women's Nordic Skiing
Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast. Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we are taking a look at the strong start to the season for the track and field teams. Plus, the swimming and diving programs defeated Middlebury on the road Sunday and the Bobcats’ top women’s squash player was honored by the NESCAC. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: The men’s basketball team defeated Thomas College on Tuesday 75-73, behind 17 points from junior Jeff Spellman and 14 points from James Mortimer. With the score tied at 73 and time running out, Spellman came through for the Bobcats.
Aaron: With 10 seconds left, Greenhalgh with eight, Greenhalgh with seven, to Lynch at the elbow, to Spellman with four, he got it with two! Timeout, Terriers, with two point five seconds to go! The Bobcats lead 75 to 73!
Aaron: Men’s basketball also hosted Middlebury and No. 3 nationally ranked Williams over the weekend. The Panthers edged Bates by seven on Friday and Bates put a scare into Williams on Saturday, leading the Ephs by as many as 14 points in the first half before Williams rallied in the second half to beat Bates by six. Assistant head coach and assistant athletic director Tommy Verdell joined me on 105 Sports Radio in Auburn to recap the week.
Aaron: The game against Thomas College, a close game. The final play, though, break it down for us. You've got Spellman there on the low block, and he won the game for you with two point five seconds left.
Tommy: Yes. The thinking was let's take advantage of the size mismatch that he had, even if they were going to switch a screen that we were anticipating that they weren't going to do, because the kid who was guarding him was really their best defender. Get Spellman as close to the basket as we could have. Have everyone lift it out, dump it in, and he's going to make the bucket. Coach drew up a great play, and most importantly, we executed it. 'Cause that's been a key for us, and as we progress, through our season, it's about the execution in those critical moments of games.
Aaron: Then, Middlebury and Williams, obviously always two tough opponents. You're in both games. Williams, you had a lead in the first half, and led at halftime. Tell us a little bit about the one three one zone defense, 'cause that, I think, is new for the Bobcats this year, compared to the previous few seasons at least, right?
Tommy: Yes, well, your guys' previous guest, you were talking football, and you were talking the Patriots' football, and I'm anti-Patriot, too, so don't worry about it. But I will say this. Let's give some due to Bill Belichick, and his philosophy on whatever it takes to win that game, that week. That's kind of how it migrated for us, with the one three one, which is something we'd been doing, but we really looked at it, and we were thinking this is really our best chance to defeat Middlebury and Williams. We defined, "Hey, here's how they can beat us. We're okay with losing this way, trying to make them do things that they're not used to." If they beat us that way, that's fine we know they're good at this. Let's not let them do that. Middlebury, they played with great pace, in the half-court, and in the full-court. We really were like, "You know what? The best thing for us to do is to slow them down." We had studied their zone offense, and they were very deliberate. They were very good at it, but they were very deliberate. Just to take some of the pace out of there, make them have to think a little bit, make them work a possession. We thought that would work well for us. We had a couple of hiccups, in what our responsibilities were. As you said, this is new for us, to go as exclusive to it as we did, this weekend. They got, and they made us pay for it, because they knocked down some shots. But the beauty of it, in our league, is that we had the opportunity, the next day, to go play right away, again. A lot of people were probably thinking it was foolish for us to really try to play zone against Williams, as well, because Williams is a team that has great size, a lot of shooting, but also, same thing. Their man-to-man offense is just unbelievably good. We felt like, "You know what? Let's make them do something different." Between the end of the game on Friday night, and going into the game on Saturday, we really focused on some film, talked to our guys, how to walk through and correct some of those mistakes, and really, really, really truly executed in the first half. To hold Williams to 27 points in the half is kind of unheard of. My phone has been blowing up. "What did you do, What did you do?" I was like, "You know what? We did a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and then, maybe they didn't do a little bit of whatever." But that was part of the plan. Second half, again, they made some shots. People overreact when you're playing a zone, and teams make outside shots. Teams make outside shots. They shoot threes against man and against zone. There's never been a shutout in the game of basketball, yet. When there is, I hope I'm a part of that, 'cause I think that would be, I mean, hellacious to have happen. But you're going to give up points. Really, down the stretch, it wasn't even our defense. It was Williams, really, their length in size, defensively, that just affected us enough, offensively. We didn't execute offensively as well as we needed to against that kind of high level team quality of opponent to get the victory. But I do believe that even in defeat, our guys really grew a lot from that. I think we have a greater sense of confidence in ourselves, at where we can go, moving forward in the NESCAC. As you know, Aaron, the spring and fall sports don't get this. They don't get that second chance. If a fall sport starts off one and three, or oh and four, they've probably incurred a couple of league games already. For us, we have, in essence, what could be some pre-season, non-conference games, and then, we have the 10 game juggernaut of the NESCAC, of which if you do well in that, now, you can get yourself to post-season play. We've kind of looked at the season this way. It took us a little while longer to gell than I think we thought it would, kind of dealing with guys in and out of the lineup in the first half of the season, I think, was part of that. But we are where we are now, with a big game against Tufts. In essence, when you look at it, and you hate to say it this way-
Aaron: Must win?
Tommy: A must win playoff game already. That's just what the NESCAC is about.
Aaron: The women’s basketball team fell at Middlebury and Williams over the weekend. But they get a chance to bounce back this week with a pair of home games against Norwich and UMaine-Farmington on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. Speaking of bouncing back, the swimming and diving program returned from their Florida training trip even stronger than they were in the fall. The Bobcats traveled to Middlebury on Sunday and both the women’s and men’s teams outscored the Panthers. The men won 11 races and the women won nine. Junior Emmy Daigle won both the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.71 and the 200 breaststroke in 2:29.72. Head Coach Peter Casares calls Daigle one of the top breaststrokers in the NESCAC, and she is our Female Bobcat of the Week!
Emmy: I think we went into it knowing it was going to be pretty tough. Our coach told us, going into it, that we would need to win a handful of races to make up for the points that we would lose in diving, because we don't have any female divers this year. I think we all went in knowing that it was going to be hard, going to Middlebury. We just knew that we would just kind of have to be tough, especially coming off of that long bus ride, but everyone really had some great swims, and I think that we really gave it our all. It ended up going alright.
Aaron: Take us through your, the races you won, there, in the breast stroke.
Emmy: I swam the 100 and 200 breaststroke. This meet, in the past for me, has been pretty tough. It's the first time we are racing, coming back from the training trip, and it's been about a month since our last meet, so it is a little nerve wracking, or it was a little nerve wracking, but I just knew I wanted to do my best to bring back the points for Bates, and I had some other really great teammates swimming in there with me. I was nervous, but I ended up doing alright.
Aaron: Breaststroke, when did you realize that was your best event?
Emmy: I haven't really been able to do anything else. I've kind of always been a breast stroker. In swim lessons, when I was little, they, I remember being held back, because I couldn't do flutter kicks. I kind of, it was just a stroke that came more naturally to me than others. It has really been the only thing I've swam, since beginning swimming.
Aaron: Then, when did you start trying to, wanting to swim, competitively?
Emmy: I swam competitively on a sort of low stakes summer rec league, when I was little. I was pretty athletic, just doing other things, but I only started swimming year-round kind of choosing it as my sport starting in seventh or eighth grade. Then, continued just swimming through high school, and came here.
Aaron: Yeah, so speaking of that, you're from Oregon, so what appealed to you about Bates?
Emmy: I actually didn't end up coming on any recruiting trips for any of the colleges that I looked at. Luckily, swimming is a pretty easy sport to research. You can just kind of look up every college team, and their swimmers, and see how fast they are. I was definitely looking at schools that were further away, and I wanted something different. I knew about Bates because my cousin had graduated from here, in 2012. I kind of did some research on the team, and it looked like a really good place where people grow as swimmers, and as people, and I know that there's been a lot of improvement, on the team, over the years. I saw that, when I was a senior, they had really been moving up in the rankings in the NESCAC, and I was just really excited about that. I made the decision to come here.
Aaron: What did Coach Casares say to you, when you said you wanted to join the swim team?
Emmy: It was kind of funny, actually. I didn't do any recruiting trips, and I didn't actually even visit campus until after I had decided to come here. I had sort of been in email contact with Vanessa throughout my senior year, and then, I showed up for Admitted Students' Day, after deciding I was going to come. I don't think they even knew until the moment that I met them, for the first time. I met him, and he was like, "Oh, I just saw that you are on the list here to come. That's great." It was, it was pretty fun to meet them for the first time. It was, I think they were a little shocked, that I had actually decided to come without ever meeting anyone. But it was pretty exciting.
Aaron: As a junior now, how have you seen your swimming grow, over the course of these past few seasons?
Emmy: Every season's been really different. I have been trying, this year, to stay a lot more level headed, and just kind of trying to have fun with everything. I think in the past, I've put a lot of pressure on myself, so this year, I'm just really kind of taking things as they come, and it's been really fun just to kind of grow, these past few years. As you gain more experience, you kind of figure out how to handle things better. I think that with every year, I'm just kind of figuring out how to manage it better.
Aaron: Home meet this Friday, against Bowdoin. Right? You had the home meet earlier against Dartmouth. That was probably an interesting experience. Now, Bowdoin, the rivalry. What's that dynamic like?
Emmy: It's pretty tough. That was the, I believe, the one dual meet that we lost, last year. It will be nice to have it at home, and have it be our senior meet. Just I think we're ready to put up a fight. They have some divers, and we don't. But I think it will be great to have that meet here, and we're definitely ready to take on the challenge.
Aaron: Then, what are you studying here, academically?
Emmy: I'm a math major.
Aaron: Okay, and what interested you in math, I guess?
Emmy: I, just generally, enjoyed math, in high school, and it was something that I liked, coming here. Just solving problems.
Aaron: Does the math major apply at all to swimming, in terms of knowing the distances you need to, when to speed up, or whatever?
Emmy: I don't know. Sometimes, people joke. When we're doing stuff in practice with tempos and things, we have to divide our times by four to find the, what we want to go in a 25, and people will joke with me, "Oh, what should I be? You're a math major." I don't really do math, in my head, so honestly, I don't really have an easy time with that, either. But it's kind of funny.
Aaron: Excellent. Then, what are some goals you have set in your mind for the remainder of the season?
Emmy: I don't really know. I'm pretty excited for NESCACs. I'm just trying to take every meet as it comes, and really, just focused on my stroke. I've been doing a lot of technique work, this year, for breaststroke. It's kind of a lot to think about, actually, in training. I'm just trying to apply that to the races, and then see where that gets me with the times, I guess.
Aaron: There you have it. Emmy Daigle, Female Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.
Emmy: Thank you.
Aaron: The track and field teams opened their season Saturday with a tri-meet against MIT and Colby. Both Bates teams outscored the Mules and gave the top-5 nationally ranked Engineers all they could handle, with the men only being outscored by MIT by nine points. Sophomore Ryan Nealis won the mile in a personal record time of 4:21.72; out-racing an All-American from MIT along the way. Nealis came back from that run and took second place in the 800 meters. And for that, Ryan Nealis is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Ryan: Going into the race, I did a lot of work this fall, getting myself in really good shape. I was like just wanting to get this season off to a great start, and I just, I looked at the field, beforehand, realized that there was a really good runner in Aidan Gilson and he was going to bring me through, through in a good time if I just was patient, and I just hung right on him, and then with two laps to go, I started making moves. A lap to go, I just put a gap on him. I didn't actually know that it was going to be a fast time. Just feeling it, it didn't feel that fast of a race. But after finishing up, I was really happy with the result. Just, yeah, I think it was a great race, and looking forward for the next one.
Aaron: I understand the runner you mentioned, he's an All-American, right? What does that mean to you, to outrace a guy like that?
Ryan: It's definitely, I was super hyped about that. It's early in the season, though. A lot can still happen. It doesn't tell, for the rest of the season. But it's definitely a very good sign that I can do that, early in the year.
Aaron: Yeah. The 800 meters came after that? Is that correct?
Ryan: Yeah, so the 800 meters was 45 minutes after that race.
Aaron: What's that recovery like, in getting ready to go for another race?
Ryan: Yeah, it's definitely physically, it's hard to bounce back. It's kind of managing your recovery from the race, but then warming up for the next one. With that, you want to move around, but you don't want to expend too much energy, 'cause then, your, the lactic acid will build up, and your legs get heavy. But then, mostly, it's just about preparing yourself mentally, and just getting ready to feel more pain, in that next race.
Aaron: The team, as a whole, Fresh called it one of your best performances, if not the best ever at this opening meet against a nationally ranked opponent like MIT. What was some other performances you saw that you really were impressed with?
Ryan: I think we got some great performances out of our freshmen. John Everett, John Mieszczanski, doing a great job. Then, I mean, our, just our seniors and our juniors stepping up, in their events. Just starting the season off great. Zack Campbell on the throws. Mark Fusco in the 600. I know he didn't have the result he wanted, but you've got to start somewhere, in the beginning of the season. Then, my roommate Johnny Rex, obviously killing it in the throws. I know he didn't have the weekend he wanted. He had an amazing weekend. But I think he, he knows that he can do a lot better, and it's, big things are going to come from him.
Aaron: Your roommate? Interesting. We've got a thrower, and a cross country/distance runner.
Ryan: Yeah. We just, we hit it off from the beginning of last year, and we really motivate each other, when it comes to track. Yeah, it's awesome, living with him. We look at stuff online. We send each other articles, and stuff like that. It's awesome, rooming with Johnny, and bouncing ideas off of him.
Aaron; Now, you run cross country in the fall. What's that transition like, into this indoor season?
Ryan: It's, so last year, I was kind of, I was on the cross county team, but I wasn't racing. I was kind of using it as a training season, and then, this year, I was in a lot better shape, coming into the year. Me and coach were like, "We'll see what happens." Racing cross country did wonders. It was awesome. It builds so much strength, mentally, physically. When you step up on the line for a mile, you think, "Wow." In the fall, I was racing five times this distance. In cold weather, and up and down hills. Mentally, physically, you just feel a lot better, going into the track season. But then, you also have to remember that you're running a lot further, and the toll that it's taking on your body, physically. All fall, you have to balance that with the stretching, rolling out, ice baths, just to prevent an injury, 'cause those are definitely serious things that can come off cross country.
Aaron: Right. For sure. Okay. You're from London. How did Bates get on your radar, for college?
Ryan: My dad's from America. My mom's from Canada. It was, and I always knew that I was going to make my way over to this side of the pond. But yeah, I was, I went to the American School in London. Which was kind of geared us towards America, as well. Then, my cross country coach in high school, actually, ran at Bates, and was he was one of Coach's first recruits here, at Bates. He would just, he didn't push me to go here, but he had planted the seed that I should check it out. I came and visited, and I just fell in love, and wanted to come here.
Aaron: Right. What was his name?
Ryan: Matt Twiest. He's actually a six time All-American here.
Aaron: Oh, nice. Nice.
Ryan: The competition's on. I'm coming for you, Coach.
Aaron: There you go. There you go. Then, growing up in England, when did you start getting into running?
Ryan: I'd always been running since I was a little kid. But I'd never, I didn't pick track up until I was in high school. Just one day, I was like, "You know what? Screw soccer. Screw baseball. I'm going to give track a shot." It turned out I was pretty good, so I was like, "I'm going to stick with this."
Aaron: Have you set any goals in your mind for indoor and outdoor season?
Ryan: We only put names up on the wall for All-Americans, so that's definitely one that I'm chasing after. That would be a true honor, to achieve that in my sophomore year. But I'm not going to be disappointed. I realize that that's a huge, huge honor, and not everyone, eight people a year get it, in an event. I'm not going to be bummed out if I don't get it. I think as a team, we're definitely chasing that state of Maine championship. Bowdoin robbed us last year of that, so we're hunting for that one, again. When New Englands comes around, we want to retain that, retain our place at the top, in New England. Well, not at the top, but one of the top programs in New England. Then, yeah, I think personally, the mile is becoming my event, so trying to get a fast time. Trying to get on the top 10 list here at Bates, which is very competitive. We'll see.
Aaron: All right. Ryan Nealis, Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much. Ryan: Thank you.
Aaron: The women’s and men’s squash teams both defeated Wesleyan on Senior Day Tuesday by a count of 8-1. While both teams fell at Middlebury and Williams over the weekend, junior Luca Polgar was named the NESCAC Women’s Squash Player of the Week after she went 3-0 at the No. 1 position to improve her personal record to 7-1 on the season.
Aaron: NESCAC Women's Squash Player of the Week, Luca Polgar with us here on the Bobcast. Luca, first of all, your Middlebury opponent, you've played her a lot. The Williams opponent, you'd never seen her before. From a squash perspective, how does that change anything, if at all, about the match versus someone you're familiar with, versus someone you're not?
Aaron: NESCAC Women's Squash Player of the Week, Luca Polgar with us here on the Bobcast. Luca, first of all, your Middlebury opponent, you've played her a lot. The Williams opponent, you'd never seen her before. From a squash perspective, how does that change anything, if at all, about the match versus someone you're familiar with, versus someone you're not?
Luca: For me, I usually play people that I've never played before, so the Middlebury opponent is actually an exception. With her, we've played a bunch of times, and it's been back and forth. For me, I like to play her a lot, because she challenges me, and when I play her, I know exactly what I have to do. If I do those things well, I can win. But also, there is the other hand. If I don't do everything that I can, then, she will win. That's usually very stressful, and it's, but it is easier for me to get hyped up for that match. For other opponents that I've never played before, it's usually, usually, I go in with a set game plan, with the mindset that I have to be ready to change that, if that doesn't work.
Aaron: Excellent. Then, how'd the Williams match go for you, in terms of that person you'd never played before?
Luca: There, actually, I have to change the game plan. I went in, I usually go in with an attacking mindset, because I went in doing that, she used my power that I put in the ball to hit it back to me, and attack back. I had to take the power off, from my game, and start to play more tight, more lighter than before, and that worked.
Aaron: When you're playing, Kristyna Alexova and Vicky Arjoon coach you, between games. How does that go? 'Cause they're both senior captains. What did you learn from them?
Luca: Yes, they always coach me. They always give me great advice. For me, when I come off court, I usually know what I'm doing well, what I'm not doing well. They help me put together my thoughts, and add to that what I personally couldn't see. It's always helpful. Also, Coach Cosquer is usually there to help me, too. I get a lot of help from other people, yes.
Aaron: You play Kristyna a lot, during, in challenge matches, in practices, right? How does that go?
Luca: Kristyna challenges me every time. She has a great hand. She has better hands that I've ever seen from anyone before, so I'm always excited to play her. I never know what to expect.
Aaron: Sure, then I know when Vicky plays, you help coach her. What have you seen from Vicky so far, this season?
Luca: Vicky tries very hard, every single one of her matches. Every single time that I coach her, she always takes my advice.
Aaron: Going forward, what's the team's focus, right now? 'Cause obviously, Middlebury and Williams, those are key matches. Didn't go the way the Bobcats necessarily wanted, so what's the focus now? What did, maybe, coach say to the team, afterwards?
Luca: Yeah, those two matches didn't go as we wanted them to go, but we're very hopeful about the season. Although it is hard, 'cause we are missing a lot of people. We are struggling with numbers. But every single one of the girls is, as I see, training very, very hard, and trying their very best, so I'm very hopeful.
Aaron: You mentioned the numbers, and I've noticed some younger folks have to step up, and maybe play a little bit higher than they're used to. Right? What have you seen from them?
Luca: Yeah, some people came back from abroad, and they are playing higher up than any of us expected them to. But they are trying their very best, and obviously, it's not the position that they're supposed to be playing, so it's very challenging for them. But they are training just as hard as any other position.
Aaron: Great. Then, you were All-Academic last year. What are you studying, here at Bates?
Luca: I study mathematics, and my minor is physics. I've been interested in it since I was very young, and I came here, I originally wanted to be a DCS major, but since the major is not ready, I decided to do math instead, since there is some programming in it, and I was always interested in it, so I find it challenging, and very, very interesting.
Aaron: Excellent. What's, maybe, one of your favorite classes that you've taken so far?
Luca: Actually, one of my favorite classes was not a mathematics class. It was, I think it was nature and environment. Something like that. It was about all the aspects on the environment, and we talked a lot about global warming, and stuff like that, so that was really, really interesting to me.
Aaron: Going forward, what are some goals you have, personally? What are some goals the team has set, in these next few weeks?
Luca: For us, we are trying to win every single one of our matches. Obviously, that's still left until NESCACs. The team goal is for NESCAC is to finish second, and then nationals, we'll see. We are always trying to shoot for the B-flight, but whatever happens happens.
Aaron: Well, yeah, you'll probably get a shot at Williams and Middlebury again, right?
Luca: Yes, hopefully. Definitely at NESCACs. Hopefully, we'll see at least one of those teams at NESCACs, yes.
Aaron: Excellent. Luca Polgar, NESCAC Women's Squash Player of the Week. Thanks so much.
Luca: Thank you.
Aaron: The alpine and Nordic skiing teams combined to finish ninth out of 17 schools at the St. Lawrence Carnival over the weekend. In alpine skiing, sophomore Joe Gillis turned in a pair of top 30 finishes, placing 27th in the slalom, and a career-best 19th in the giant slalom.
Aaron: Joe Gillis with us, on the phone, here on the Bobcast, talking some alpine skiing, and well, Joe, first of all, this opening carnival of the season, how do you feel, you won two top 30 finishes. It must be pretty satisfying, right?
Joe: Yeah, it was definitely a pretty exciting race for me, and the team as a whole. I was really just happy to get some results, and some finishes, for the team, but I think as a team, collectively, I think we were all pretty happy. We all had at least one good day of results, for each of us.
Aaron: Yeah, it's so tricky, in alpine, 'cause you have, let's say you have a really good first run. That just, that, there's a lot of pressure on that second run, right? How do you kind of balance the need to finish with the need to go as fast as possible?
Joe: For me, it's a lot about just trying to go as fast as possible, even when you're set up in that position, on the first run. You can't be thinking about the finish. Otherwise, you're just not going to end up being fast on the second run, and so that was kind of my mindset, going into the weekend. I know that was similar for a lot of the other people on the team. But yeah, it worked out for me, but I know for some of my teammates, it didn't work out in the same way.
Aaron: Coming into college, last year, what were the biggest adjustments to collegiate skiing that you had to make?
Joe: Definitely some of the biggest collegiate adjustments you have to make is that you go from competing as an individual to now you're competing as a team. That's definitely a big adjustment, coming in. Just being more of a team atmosphere, and then, being out there supporting everybody, every single run, I really, I love that aspect about college, for sure. Definitely that transition was different for me, and I know for a lot of my teammates, as well.
Aaron: What appealed to you about Bates, for you to come to college to ski and study here?
Joe: I love the location. I think Maine is one of the most beautiful places there is. The mountain that we train on, Sunday River, is just incredible. It's probably the best training venue in the east, and so the combination of those two factors, plus the academic challenges that Bates presents, I think really just made the perfect combination for me to come to school here.
Aaron: You have, you have a pretty strong sophomore class with you. Tell us about some of your teammates who are also sophomores that came in with you last year, and are growing, this season.
Joe: I have a sophomore class that's definitely awesome. Definitely my best friends out there. I know not all of us had great results this weekend, in terms of the sophomore class. I know on Sunday, on the non-college race, I know my roommate, Calvin Wilson, actually had the best result for us, which was really strong. I think he might have had a career-best, that day. I know Max Schneider actually had a really big first run in the GS as well, for us. Moving all the way up from 77 to 35, that was incredible. Moving 40 bib spots, that's unheard of in a college race, so that was real exciting, as well.
Aaron: Tell us a little bit about what you're studying right now, at Bates, and how you balance that with the skiing.
Joe: Yeah, so right now, I'm a econ major, with a history minor. Definitely, that's a pretty intense path, I think, for any student at Bates. It's definitely difficult, being a student-athlete, especially on the ski team, because we have to travel almost two hours, every day, back and forth to the mountain. But I think it also really helps me at the same time to stay really focused, in my studies. I make the most of my time, and so I think for me, just having that core focus of being skier and being a student, it just helps work, or it just helps me work out in my time more.
Aaron: Terrific. Then, what are some goals you have, maybe, moving forward this season, for yourself and the team?
Joe: As a team, I think, collectively, we're hoping to have three guys and girls in the top 30 every weekend. I think that's definitely a goal that's very feasible, and something that we can do, and I think ideally, we'd like to get maybe a top five finish this year, in one of the Carnivals for us. Then, moving forward for myself, I am looking to try to continue the streak I'm on right now, those top 30 results. Hopefully, I can get another one, this coming weekend, at UNH, but we'll see. Anything's possible, once you go there.
Aaron: Absolutely. Are the carnivals pretty all similar, or are there some big differences between them, you find?
Joe: There's definitely a difference between the carnivals. The hills are different, everywhere you go. Whiteface, where we were this weekend for the St. Lawrence Carnival, was definitely a very technical hill. Definitely very challenging. Especially in the small events. Pretty steep. This weekend will also be pretty challenging at UNH, for sure. Another technical hill, and definitely a really long course, so I'm looking forward to the challenge, once I get there. It should be a lot of fun.
Aaron: Alright. Joe Gillis, we'll let you get out there on the mountain. Thanks so much.
Joe: Thank you.
Aaron: Junior Kaelyn Woods picked up where she left off last year in Nordic skiing, finishing 16th in the freestyle race and 14th in the classical technique race. Meanwhile Maya Seckinger turned in a terrific pair of performances in her collegiate debut, placing 39th in the freestyle race and 30th in the classical race.
Aaron: Talking some Nordic skiing here on the Bobcast, with Maya Seckinger here. First of all, Maya, tell us about the opening carnival of the season. It was basically your collegiate debut, right?
Maya: Yeah. It was pretty exciting. I had been to Carnivals last year, as an assistant coach, sort of, rallying all the girls. But it was a new experience, actually racing. It was really fun. Super cold weather. Around zero, both days, which was kind of a shock to the system. But yeah, it was pretty good.
Aaron: Yeah, for Nordic, how much does the temperature impact the race speed, or anything like that?
Maya: Well, it's really cold. This weekend, it was really slow snow. A lot slower than normal. But you just kind of get used to it. When it's cold, you just tough it out, and kind of just have to adjust.
Aaron: How encouraged were you by the results you put up, 'cause it was obviously two pretty solid results for your first race, right?
Maya: The first day, I was super disappointed, actually.
Aaron: Oh, really? Okay.
Maya: Yeah. I just had a really bad race, and I guess in skiing, you can't get too worked up about results, just because you're racing yourself. The first day, I was really bummed. Not really because of the results. I had a bad day. I just felt really out of it. It was my first skate race back in two years. That was hard. Then, the second day, I just completely changed my mindset, and I was way happier with the race, and the results, so I felt good about it.
Aaron: Excellent. One out of two's not bad, right?
Maya: Yeah, exactly.
Aaron: Then, Kaelyn Woods is obviously someone who went to the NCAAs last year, on your team. I know in running, they try to run together. Is it, I know sometimes in Nordic, it's a mass start, but other times, it's one at a time. How does that work, in terms of working with your teammates, or does that not really come into play?
Maya: It does, on a mass start day. These last two races weren't.
Aaron: Yeah, okay.
Maya: I train with Kaelyn all the time, and she's someone I love to chase. It's been a great fall, just having each other to push. But yeah, I didn't get to the race with her at all. I didn't even see her on course. I did see some other teammates, so that's always fun, just how the intervals went. Especially Sunday, because it was two laps. Skiing with teammates, when you can, and cheering them on, as you can barely breathe, is always fun, and seeing them at the finish is the best.
Aaron: Right. You grew up in Winthrop, Washington, small town. North Cascades there in Washington. I'm from Seattle. Full disclosure. I'm interested in this. What was that like, growing up? Obviously, a lot of good skiing, and then, what appealed to Bates, to come out here to Maine?
Maya: Yeah, growing up, super small town. I wanted to leave pretty much immediately. I actually took a year off before I came to Bates, and skied in Bend, Oregon, just to sort of grow up, and figure out what I wanted to do. My parents are both from the east, and they wanted me to go to school out here, just to experience the different coasts. I looked at a bunch of the NESCAC schools, and where I wanted to ski. I knew I wanted to ski in college. Bates was just my favorite. I just toured campus, and absolutely loved it. It was my first choice. I applied ED. I didn't get in. Then, that's when I decided to take a gap year. Then, I ended up getting in regular, that year, and deferred. I'm now back, and so happy. Yeah. It was a good choice.
Aaron: Wait, did you end up taking two years after high school, then, or one?
Maya: No, just one.
Aaron: Oh, oh, okay.
Maya: Just one year. I took a year off, skied, and then came here and couldn't race.
Aaron: Right, right, okay. Gotcha.
Maya: It's like, yeah, I finally get to race here.
Aaron: Yeah. How's collegiate skiing, compared to skiing in high school, and what not?
Maya: I'd say it's more fun, honestly. It seems a lot less stressful, just your teammates are, I don't know. I feel like it's more of a family, and less competitive within each other. There's still a good drive. I really like the college circuit, so far. Yeah. It's good.
Aaron: Great. Well, being injured last year, what wast he process like, coming back from the injury?
Maya: Challenging. Definitely. I tried to train as much as I could, last year, through the injury. But that was, it was hard. It was a lot of pool running, a lot of spinning. That's all I could do. It was, the team supported me, which was really nice. My coaches and teammates. They really worked hard to be encouraging, and keep me a part of everything. Then, this year, I'm not where I want to be, physically, as just 'cause I had to take a year off from my normal training. I'm hoping to come back next year even stronger. But just a lot of rehab. A lot of PT. Then, just a lot of hard work. Normal training, this summer.
Aaron: Sure. What was the moment like, when you finally got back on skis?
Maya: Let's see. I think I'd been on skis on and off, but I guess racing, again, this weekend, and we had some race, two races before, too, it was not, it was frustrating, for sure. The first few races have been a little bit frustrating, 'cause I remember my last really good races. I was top 10 in junior nationals. That was my last race. Then, coming back and feeling so out of shape, and knowing how I was supposed to feel, and not having that speed and strength was hard, and it's been a mental adjustment. But I'm finally, after Sunday's race, my mental state has changed. I think it's going to go up, from here.
Aaron: You mentioned off air that you did some alpine skiing, recreationally, growing up, like a lot of people do, I suppose. What made Nordic the one you wanted to really compete in?
Maya: I was kind of a wimp, when it came to downhill. Honestly. I didn't really want to compete in Nordic. I was accidentally signed up for a race by my friend's mom. I was six, at the time, and I was kind of upset, and I did it. I won. I won a lot of candy, and from then on, I was like, "Okay, if I get a medal and candy, I'll do this sport." That's how I ended up Nordic racing.
Aaron: That's a great way to end it. Maya, thanks so much for joining us on the Bobcast.
Maya: Thank you so much.
Aaron: Next time on the Bates Bobcast, we'll recap a big week for all Bates winter sports. Swimming and diving hosts its final home meet of the year Friday at 7:00 PM against Boden, and the track and field teams host the Bates Invitational on Saturday, against several teams led by the University of Maine. Plus, the men's basketball team hosts Tufts, Saturday at 3:00 PM. All that and more next time on the Bates Bobcast.