2013: Sports Year in Review

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KATE HALL of Casco (right) won six state track titles in 2013, and is presently ranked nationally. Her accomplishments made Kate the top BN sports story in 2013.

 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

2013 proved to be a very good sports year in the Lake Region:

1. How good can she be? No track record appears safe with Kate Hall around. The Casco phenom barely let the ink dry often in 2013 before she was rewriting school and state records in the 55-meters, 200-meters and long jump. She added six state titles to her resume; won the 55-meters at the New England indoor championships held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, Mass. while adding a second in the long jump; and closed out her sophomore season with a fourth place finish in the 100-meters at the Nationals held in North Carolina in June, with a time of 11.74 (winning time was 11.68). Her performance earned Kate “All-American” status. 2014 should bring more excitement from the track. This past Saturday, Kate competed at the Rhode Island Classic track meet in the 55-meter dash and long jump. She won both events, setting both the meet and facility record in each event. Kate broke her Maine all-time best record in the 55-meters with a time of 7.01 seconds. At this time, she is ranked #3 in the United States in the 55-meters. Last week, Kate Jumped 19-feet 2-inches in the long jump, which tied her for first in the country. Saturday, she jumped 19-feet 11-inches, which currently is the country’s top mark. The question beckons, just how good can Kate be? Stay tuned.

2. Comeback Connor: When he suffered a severe broken ankle early in the wrestling season, senior Connor Sheehan held out hope that maybe — a very big maybe — he could return to the mat by season’s end. Keeping the faith and being determined, Connor returned to win his third title in the 113-pound weight class and was presented the Outstanding Wrestler Award after the state championships held at the Academy. Connor closed out his high school career with a 130–7 record, and saw the Raiders win the Regional title for the first time since 1986. He won the New England championship in Providence, R.I. with a 3–1 decision. An incredible comeback after what appeared to be a lost senior year when his ankle crumbled.

3. They had their shot at gold: After the first 16 minutes of play, it appeared Lake Region would finally take home a gold ball. The Lakers dominated the first half, especially in the lane, against defending Class B champ Presque Isle. But, once again, the Lakers were snake-bitten by a shining star. A few years ago, Waterville center Morgan Frame was the difference-maker in denying the Lakers two shots at gold. This time, 5-foot-5 senior guard Chandler Guerrette kept Coach Paul True and his Lakers winless in the big game. Guerrette scored 33 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter to help the Wildcats erase a three-point deficit to claim back-to-back titles, 51–44 at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Guerrette finished her high school career with a remarkable 71–2 mark. The loss ended another incredible Laker season, which ended 19–3, including playoff wins over Freeport, Greely and York to claim the West crown. The Lakers also added a Good Sportsmanship banner to the Nutting Gym back wall. The Lakers rode a MVP effort from junior center Tiana-Jo Carter, who averaged 13 points in the West tourney, along with 42 rebounds and 17 blocked shots. Carter scored 17 points in the finals. This season, she has been a force (she scored 33 points and had 23 rebounds in a recent victory) in leading the Lakers to a 5–1 start. “T” will attend the University at Albany (NY), a Division I program, next season.

4. It was time to go: Fred Apt always cherished every appearance he and his Raiders made in the state Class B softball championships — realizing it could be his last. After 13 seasons, 166 wins, three state titles and five straight Class B West crowns, Coach Apt felt “it was time” to call it a career. Fryeburg Academy entered the 2013 playoffs as the top seed, but lost in the semi-finals 2–1 to Greely, ending an incredible Raider reign. With several key starters returning this spring, the Raiders figure to be a major contender once more, but it will unfold without the familiar Coach Apt on the sideline (at press time, a replacement has yet to be named).

5. Rare Nordic three-peat: John Weston has been around Nordic high school ski racing for a long time, and he never saw a racer dominate as Silas Eastman has. The Fryeburg Academy senior won the competitive Sassi Memorial race for the third straight time at Black Mountain in Rumford — a first by either a boy or girl in the event’s 24-year history. Silas won in convincing fashion, 27 seconds better than the runner-up. The victory was a sign of good things to come as Eastman went on to claim the Class A title, cutting through a driving wind and white-out conditions to complete an undefeated race season. Eastman has moved on now to race for the Colby College Mules.

6. Best in their class: Some local athletes reached the pinnacle of their respective sports by claiming state titles in 2013. Able to claim they were “the best” were: Kelsey Liljedahl of Fryeburg Academy became the first Raider in 26 years (since Heather Pike in 1987) to win the skimeister — combined Nordic and alpine results — title; Ian MacFawn nearly helped lead the FA wrestling team to a state title by claiming the 182-pound weight class, while sophomore Zach Sheehan also claimed a state crown in wrestling, his 69th win in two years; Kayla Gray of Lake Region won the state race walk title, setting a school record with a time of 8 minutes, 34 seconds (she later went on to compete in the Nationals held in North Carolina, and placed 15th overall in 8:33.17 — winning time was 7:29.87); and Raider Liz Grzyb was the Class B state champion in the javelin with a toss of 108-feet, 4-inches.

7. How the game should be played: Good Sportsmanship banners are often awarded to top high school sports teams. If a team wins a lot, it is likely a little easier to be good sports than teams that lose more often. Prolonged losing brings disappointment and frustration. No matter the score or situation, Kamen Scott played the game of football the way it is intended to be played. He played with a lot of heart, showed respect for his opponent and never gave up on a play, regardless if he was dead tired in the fourth quarter. So when he represented Lake Region at the annual Shriners’ Lobster Bowl as a member of a squad made up of both Class A and B West players, Kamen received an award recognizing good sportsmanship, leadership and football awareness. At the banquet, another parent made a comment to Kamen’s mother regarding it was too bad that he played in a “losing program.” Kamen’s mother, Matty Mack, defended the Laker program and spoke proudly of Kamen’s character saying, “Hard times develop character…Thank God they do or we’d be spoiled and take everything for granted.” Win or lose, it truly is how one plays the game that others will respect.

8. Never say never: When his team started the basketball season with a 0–6 record, Sedge Saunders searched for ways to make his Raiders better — playoffs never entered his mind. Showing it is never too late to turn a season or program around, the Raiders stayed positive, worked hard to improve and made a late run, including a big victory over Greely, to qualify for the Class B West playoffs. The Rangers would gain some revenge by beating the Raiders by 20 points in the preliminary playoff round, but the comeback was truly remarkable.

9. End of futility: Eleven straight times, Lake Region lined up against Mountain Valley in football and lost — often by huge margins. Since 2001, the Falcons shut the Lakers out six times and enjoyed a 393 to 58 advantage on the scoreboard. But, the good times stopped for the mighty Falcons this season as the Lakers ended the long losing skid with a thrilling 20–6 early season victory at home. Although the Lakers failed to qualify for the playoffs this fall, Coach Brian Jahna feels his program is turning a corner and better days are ahead.

10. Persistence pays off: The vision of opening a new sports complex in Bridgton was just a pipe dream for nearly a decade — not due to lack of effort by a dedicated group of committed citizens. The pieces just never quite came together. While Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group membership changed in recent years, the vision remained in place. And, in 2013, the sports complex became a reality. Indeed, those driven to see the complex built and those who continue to fundraise to complete the project all could stand back, smile and feel a sense of pride as youngsters finally walked onto well-manicured diamonds and fields to play baseball, softball and lacrosse during an opening ceremony. Perseverance paid off. But, some work remains for 2014, so get involved or help support the effort in some way — kids will appreciate it.

 

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