Cross country is not an easy sport.

In a typical high school meet, runners go up and down tough hills, dodge roots and rocks and grind through muck and mire.

It’s grueling.

Try attempting it with no eyesight.

That’s what Lawrence High of Fairfield junior Lindsay Ball does in every race.

Ball, a newcomer to cross country who has participated in track and field for the Bulldogs, is visually impaired.

“It’s made it harder because you have to have somebody to run with you,” Ball said after participating in a five-team meet at Bangor High School on Friday.

Ball’s guidance along the course comes from assistant coach Rob Stanton, who runs alongside Ball while the two are attached to a small rope.

“[He] tells me where turns are, stumps, rocks, all that kind of stuff,” Ball said.

Usually, slowing down too much for a turn can hamper a runner’s pace, making it difficult to re-establish momentum.

“I usually try not to slow down. I don’t like sharp corners,” Ball admitted.

The Maine Principals’ Association has regulations that allow visually impaired athletes to run with a guide while competing in meets.

“It’s great, we have a good time with it,” Stanton said.

Ball finished in 53rd place in Friday’s meet, in which the Bulldogs competed against Bangor, Brewer, Hampden Academy and Waterville.

“It was pretty good,” Ball said of the race. “I’d probably try to do hills better, I guess, because I don’t like them as much as I should like them.”

There are other parts on courses on which Ball has to be careful.

“I would say it’s the sections where the footing is very uneven, or if it gets narrow very quickly that can be a little dicey,” Stanton said.

Ball normally runs with teammate Kate Hillman in practice, but Hillman, also a newcomer to the sport, is injured right now.

“She’s training me right now,” Hillman said with a wide smile. “This is my first time ever running anything. I’ve never run anything before.”

Ball works just as hard as other high school runners.

“I know that if I ask Lindsay to do something, if it’s within her power to do it, she’s going to do it, for sure,” said Stanton.

Noyes tackles half-marathon

For many high school cross country runners, summer training consists of accumulating solid mileage while fitting in a couple of quality workouts a week and the occasional road race.

Brewer High senior Kaitlin Noyes threw in a different piece to her training puzzle this summer: a half-marathon.

Noyes, who said she ran 250 miles over the summer to prepare for the fall season, competed in the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, Calif., recently while visiting relatives in Orange County.

Once she got the OK from coach Glendon Rand, Noyes was ready to toe the line in the “Happiest Race on Earth.”

“I just thought it’d be fun to try. I’ve wanted to do it for a while,” Noyes said after helping lead the Witches to a team victory in their first meet of the season at Bangor.

It’s not like Noyes hasn’t run the 13.1-mile distance before.

“I did 13 miles on a training run one time,” she said.

Noyes completed her first half-marathon in 1 hour, 57 minutes over an enjoyable course.

“I just took it as a fun race and just took my time and had fun with it,” she explained.

Noyes averaged just under a 9-minute mile pace throughout the duration of the race.

“There were a couple uphills, but nothing major. It was pretty flat for the most part,” she said.

Noyes didn’t get a chance to check out any rides or attractions at the theme park.

“We went to downtown Disney. The only time we were in the actual park was for the race,” said Noyes, who ran a few local road races over the summer, including the Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth.

The half-marathon course winds through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure parks, and the streets of Anaheim, finishing at downtown Disney.

The race had the atmosphere of a hit Disney movie, with different characters lining the course.

“It was really awesome. Everyone was so supportive and all the Disney characters are out, people are just there to watch and cheer for you,” Noyes said.

Field hockey site shifted

The state’s top field hockey teams will have a new state championship site on which to chase championship glory this fall.

The MPA has moved the site from Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium to the Weatherbee School Complex in Hampden.

Like Fitzpatrick, HA’s complex sports a synthetic FieldTurf playing surface, an essential factor given Maine’s unpredictable late fall weather.

“What the [field hockey] committee did was they looked at a number of factors, and with feedback from coaches and past experiences playing on turf, [it] provided an opportunity to get all three games in one location,” MPA Assistant Executive Director Mike Burnham explained.

Another factor was that the games had been played in the southern part of the state for several years.

“Hampden has the turf, so they felt that they’d like to move it to a more northern location this year,” said Burnham.

The Classes A, B and C title games will be held on Nov. 1 at Hampden, with traveling distance of each regional champion determining game times.

Burnham added that it’s quite possible the state finals will rotate on a yearly basis between Hampden and Portland.

“We’d like to try to showcase field hockey across the state,” he said.

Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective...