By Michael Hoffer
Another year is over, but it won’t soon be forgotten.
Not if you’re a fan of local sports.
The one thread that held us together from winter to spring, spring into summer, summer through fall, and now back to winter again, was the transcendent play of local athletes and teams.
Games were won in scintillating fashion, titles were secured, and thrills were produced.
Before we embark on a new year of excitement, let’s turn the clock back one final time to the wonder and magic that was 2008.
Track stole the headlines last winter as Brunswick’s boys won the Class A team state title. The Dragons had several individuals sparkle as well as Kyle Bucklin (long jump) and David Slovenski (pole vault) won state crowns for the boys and Clare Franco (400) and Kristin Slotnick (55, 200 and long jump) were champions for the girls.
Emily Buczkowski (50 and 100 free) and James Wells (50 free) won Class A swimming titles for Morse.
The Shipbuilders also had a wrestling champion (D.J. Brackett, 103-pounds), as did Mt. Ararat (Zach Chandler-189 pounds).
Brunswick’s boys’ and girls’ hockey teams made it to the playoffs.
On the hardwood, every team but the Mt. Ararat girls qualified for the postseason. The Morse girls reached the Eastern A semifinals and featured Miss Maine Basketball finalist Jill Henrikson.
While track stars continued to shine in the spring, the biggest story of the season was the Brunswick girls’ lacrosse team. After three previous trips to the state final ended in agony, the Dragons finally got over the hump June 21, downing Kennebunk to win the Class A championship.
The Brunswick boys hoped to match their female counterparts, but dropped a close decision to Scarborough in the state game.
Slovenski and Slotnick earned more hardware in track. They were joined as state champs by teammate Kyla Jensen (800), Morse’s Darrus Grate (100 and 200) and Kory Scarponi (racewalk).
Mt. Ararat’s Mike Hill won the boys’ state individual tennis title.
The Brunswick and Mt. Ararat baseball squads, and the Morse softball team enjoyed runs to the playoffs.
High schoolers took a backseat, but there were plenty of diversions for local sports fans. Little League and American Legion players strutted their stuff. Many local runners made their mark in the Beach to Beacon in early August. A couple weeks later, high school athletes reported to fall practice and it was time to do it all over again.
Morse’s football team stole the headlines in the fall, overcoming a slow start to win the Eastern B championship. The Shipbuilders lost to Mountain Valley in the state game, but that setback did little to dampen the program’s finest season in over three decades. Brunswick also made the playoffs.
On the pitch, Brunswick’s boys and girls were both ousted in the regional final. Mt. Ararat’s girls made it to the semifinals. Morse’s girls fell in the quarterfinals.
Brunswick’s field hockey team won a playoff game before losing in the quarterfinals.
Brunswick had a solid showing at the cross country state meet.
Brunswick’s golf team got to the state match and came in sixth.
Last, but not least, Bowdoin’s field hockey team repeated as Division III national champions in stirring fashion.
Winter is back (big-time) and we’re doing it all over again. Many of the storylines are similar.
In boys’ basketball, Morse is off to its best start in years, Hyde and Mt. Ararat have winning records and Brunswick’s competitive.
Brunswick and Hyde’s girls are impressing, Mt. Ararat is battling and Morse is hoping for a second-half surge.
On the ice, Brunswick and Mt. Ararat are looking for bigger things in 2009. The Brunswick girls are taking part in the first year of MPA-sanctioned play.
Swimming and wrestling have provided early, positive notes for local schools and the track and ski seasons are set to get under way.
So, goodbye to 2008. Your thrills won’t soon be forgotten. It’s time to say hello to 2009 and eagerly anticipate the drama which awaits.