Cheverus Stags Winter Athletes of the Year

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Male:

MICHAEL O’DONOVAN, Senior-Swimming

  • Class A state champion, 200

  • Class A state champion, 500

  • Member of Class A record-setting 200 freestyle relay team

  • Member of Class A champion 400 freestyle relay team

  • School record holder, 200 free

  • School record holder, 500 free

  • All-state, first-team, 500 free

  • All-state, second-team, 200 free

  • All-state, second-team, 400 free relay

  • Southern Maine Swim League first-team, 200 free

  • SMSL first-team, 500 free

  • SMSL first-team, 200 free relay

  • SMSL first-team, 400 free relay

  • SMAA All-Academic team

  • Captain

O’Donovan was a sensation in the pool who was just as highly respected out of the water and he capped his sensational high school career with individual and team glory.

O’Donovan grew up in Falmouth playing different sports, but it wasn’t until he began swimming with the Portland Porpoises club team at age 10 that he found his calling. By high school, he was focused exclusively on swimming and immediately made a major impact by erasing program legend and Olympian Ian Crocker from the school record books en route to a runner-up finish in the 500 freestyle at the Class A state meet, helping the Stags to a championship. O’Donovan’s sophomore year was just as strong, as he was second at states in both the 200 and 500 free and helped the 400 free relay team to a first-place finish as Cheverus repeated. The Stags won Class A again O’Donovan’s junior season and again, he was second in the 200 and 500 free and was part of a pair of champion relays.

Nothing would stand in O’Donovan’s way this winter.

As a captain for the second straight year, he posted the state’s best time in the 200 free and the 500 free. After bad weather prevented Cheverus from being able to take part at Southwesterns, O’Donovan excelled at the state meet, helping the Stags win a fourth successive title by coming in first in the 200 free (1 minute, 43.50 seconds) and the 500 free (4:41.42) and leading both the 200 and 400 free relays to first-place finishes. 

While O’Donovan hoped for an even faster time in the 200 free at states, he had a lot to be happy about.

“Cheverus taught me a lot about integrity,” O’Donovan said. “I had a lot of fun the past four years. My teammates motivated me. We all supported each other. I love competing. The goal was to win another championship.”

O’Donovan graduates holding the Cheverus record in the 200 and 500 free and he’s also been part of record-setting 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free relay teams.

O’Donovan, who continued to swim with the Porpoises all through high school, trained by swimming double sessions before and after school three to five days a week. He’s also the president of Cheverus’ Spanish Club and will live out his dream of competing in college when he matriculates at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York next fall. He’ll continue to be a top distance swimmer and he plays to major in business and minor in accounting. 

There’s little doubt that Marist is getting a top-notch talent. Michael O’Donovan, Cheverus’ Winter Male Athlete of the Year, set an extremely high standard and will live on in program lore.

Coach Kevin Haley’s comment:“Michael is probably the finest young man I’ve coached in my 28 years. His integrity and work ethic are truly amazing. He’s a very hard worker and all of his priorities are straight. He goes above and beyond. His sportsmanship is truly incredible. He always puts others first before himself, a true ‘Cheverian.’ I’ve been very blessed to coach him. He’ll be missed, however, he has set the bar at a high level for all to achieve.”

Previous winners:

2014-15 James Hannigan (hockey)

2013-14 Jake Dixon (track)

2012-13 Trebor Lawton (swimming)

2011-12 Trebor Lawton (swimming)

2010-11 Jack Terwilliger (track)

2009-10 Indiana Faithfull (basketball)

2008-09 Zander Markellos (skiing)

2007-08 Matt Libby (swimming)

2006-07 Matt Libby (swimming)

2005-06 Alex Arthur (hockey)

2004-05 Adam Horgan (hockey)

2003-04 Kevin Marchesi (hockey)

Female:

EMILY TURNER, Junior-Track

  • Class A state champion, 400

  • All-State

  • SMAA first-team, open 600

  • SMAA first-team, senior long jump

  • SMAA second-team, senior 55

  • SMAA second-team, senior 200

  • SMAA second-team, senior 400

  • School record holder, 200

  • School record holder, 300

  • School record holder, 400

  • School record holder, 600

Turner surprised even herself with her record-setting dominance this winter and the best news for the Stags is she isn’t done turning heads at the high school level.

Turner came to track naturally, as her mother was a champion hurdler at Westbrook High School and her father ran for Cheverus. Turner first ran track in the seventh grade, but didn’t take part in eighth grade. She returned to the sport as a freshman and became a top competitor as a sophomore, as she placed third in the 400 and was a member of a state champion and record-setting 3,200 relay team. 

After finishing second in the 400 at the 2015 outdoor state meet, Turner transformed into a champion and record-setter this winter.

Turner broke school records in four different events, the 200 (26.10 seconds), 300 (41.16), 400 (58.47) and 600 (1 minute, 29.85 seconds). She became the first Cheverus female to break 27 seconds in the 200 and to break 60 seconds in the 400 (she’s also done it outdoors). Her time in that event is sixth all-time in state annals. Turner’s a pretty impressive jumper too and has a top jump of 16 feet, 4 inches to her credit.

Turner went undefeated in the regular season, then won the senior long jump and the open 600 and placed second in the senior 200 at the SMAA championship meet. She then won the 400 (58.47 seconds) at states, becoming Cheverus’ first female champion in that event, while also coming in second in the 200 (26.64) and seventh in the long jump (15-11.25). Turner capped her season by placing 11th in the 300 at New Englands.

“I’m ecstatic about my season,” Turner said. “This year, everything came together all at once. My coaches developed more workouts and training exercises for me. I realized I could get better and I surprised myself. My parents pushed me and Coach (Steve Virgilio) always expected my best. I wanted to live up to his standards.

“We’re all a family in track. You can always bond and become best friends. I’ve met some of my closest friends through track.”

Turner will look to win state titles in the 100, 200 and 400 this spring. She also plays soccer. She’ll then have one more year to win championships and set records indoors and outdoors before moving on to college, where she hopes to compete.

We’ve only just begun to see the best of Emily Turner, Cheverus’ Winter Female Athlete of the Year. The fact that she hasn’t yet reached her ceiling has to be quite frightening for the competition.

Coach Steve Virgilio‘s comment: “Emily is the most versatile and accomplished sprinter in Cheverus girls’ track and field history. She had a remarkable junior season. She showed just how dominant she really can be. Emily has a special gift when it comes to running and racing. I’m extremely proud to be Emily’s coach and it is both exciting and inspiring to work with her and watch her compete.  She has both continued and progressed the work and success of her current and former teammates, on and off the track. Emily is a great athlete and a great person. She has the opportunity to influence others and make history because of her gifts. She will do much more in her time at Cheverus and even more in her time after graduation.”

Previous winners:

2014-15 Abby Longstaff (swimming)

2013-14 Sarah Nappo (swimming)

2012-13 Brooke Flaherty (basketball)

2011-12 Fiona Hendry (track)

2010-11 Caroline Summa (track)

2009-10 Saundrine Lanouette (hockey)

2008-09 Caroline Summa (track)

2007-08 Jessica Groth (track)

2006-07 Jessica Groth (track)

2005-06 Caitlin Barber (Alpine skiing)

2004-05 Jill Horan (swimming)

2003-04 Alana Van Loenen (track)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.