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Jason Brisbois

Staff Writer

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One year removed from virtual meets against opponents and strict timing and spacing guidelines due to COVID, the Manchester Essex swim team has been able to come together as a team this winter. Both the boys and girls’ teams are practicing together, and even participated in a co-ed meet against Masconomet in December together. Meets are in person and things are closer to what local swimmers would expect during team competition.

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For the second year in a row, COVID-19 has proven to be as formidable opponent for the Rockport High School boys ice hockey team as any Cape Ann League foe.

The Vikings – a co-op team that fields players from the communities of Manchester, Essex and Rockport – has worked hard to overcome COVID-related concerns that have affected both the team roster and schedule. Last winter, the team only got in six games total due to COVID cancellations, and struggled as they finished with an 0-6 record.

It’s a new year, and with it comes new hope for local high school basketball teams.

For the Manchester Essex girls, it’s the hope that the Hornets can turn things around after an 0-4 start to the season in December, find their groove and earn their way into the postseason.

For the boys’ team, it’s the hope that they can keep the positive momentum of a 5-1 start (4-0 in the Cape Ann League) going while also reintroducing one of the team’s best players to the active roster after his recovery from injury.

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This upcoming Thursday, a holiday tradition will be restored here in Manchester. The COVID-19 pandemic changed so many things that we came to count on as part of our calendar and community, that it’s easy to lose count of all that we did without in 2020. One of those dearly missed items from the calendar last fall was the annual Thanksgiving Day football game. This is a sport that is eternally tied to the holiday – turkey and football are almost synonymous with Thanksgiving at this point – so it was difficult to see a football season displaced to the following spring due to pandemic guidelines, thus eliminating the ability to end the high school regular season with a well-attended game against a traditional rival.

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So far, it’s all gone perfectly.

That’s perfect, as in 6-0 with one game left on the regular season schedule. The Manchester Essex football team has excelled under the leadership of first-year coach Josiah Grimes, with the Hornets leading the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small Division thanks to an unblemished 4-0 divisional record.

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It may seem like the fall season just started, but the Manchester Essex cross country teams are already gearing up for the stretch run.  “Our last dual meet is at Lynnfield on October 20,” explains ME cross country coach Steve Whittey.  “Lynnfield is a crossover meet with the Kenney Division, so we are really focusing on our post season now.”

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ME Golf Seeks Improvement in Second Half of Season The learning experience that the Manchester Essex golf team worked through during the first half of the year finally paid off last week. After opening the season 0-5, the Hornets picked up their first win of the season against Lynnfield, 104-98, at their home course of Essex County Club on Sept. 23. The encouraging win gave both coach and golfers hope that better days could be ahead for this young team during the second leg of the fall season.

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Its September, and students are settling into a new school year that features a new elementary school building in Manchester, a new playground and some classroom updates in Essex, and a return to in-classroom learning after an extended period of attending class remotely in 2020-21.

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