Yarmouth skiers once again lead the way
The Yarmouth skiing dynasty keeps raising the bar.
A year ago, the Clippers won the Alpine and combined boys' and girls' Class B championships and were second on both sides in Nordic. Look for this juggernaut to keep the good times rolling in 2009-10.
The boys' Alpine charge is led by senior Reed Wommack, who was fifth in the giant slalom and 12th in the slalom a year ago at states. Senior Adam Sampson came in 15th in the GS.
In Nordic, senior Cam Woodworth (the school's Winter Male Athlete of the Year in 2008-09), who won the classic and freestyle at last year's Class B state meet, should dominate again. After that, there are question marks. Look for junior Ben Woodbury and senior Sam Woodbury to step up, along with senior Sam Peterson.
Johnson, Ben Woodbury and freshman Drew Grout are top skimeisters.
"The Alpine boys lost 50 percent of their scoring punch to graduation," said longtime Yarmouth coach Bob Morse. "The Nordic team lost five seniors from last year's state meet. The challenges this year will be who is going to make the team and how are the freshmen going to adapt?"
The girls' have some holes to fill as well, especially after the departure of Lauren Stackhouse, Yarmouth's reigning Winter Athlete of the Year, but plenty of firepower remains. Senior Natalie Aiken was fourth in the GS and eighth in the slalom a year ago. Sophomores Taylor Hornney (eighth, GS), and Claudia Lockwood (11th GS and 15th slalom) and junior Becca Bell (14th slalom) also return.
On the Nordic side, Bell was third in the freestyle and fourth in the classic a year ago. Junior Allison Totta (16th in the classic), sophomore Caitlin Crawford (17th in the classic) and senior Christina DeFusco (17th in the freestyle) also scored a year ago.
Bell is a leading skimeister threat.
"The Alpine team has a solid core of veteran skiers," Morse said. "The team's success will depend on the development of the 6 through 8 skiers. We'll have a big challenge at states. The Nordic team has veteran skiers. The newcomers will have to step up the pace to make us competitive in the conference and at states."
Falmouth is another Class B contender. The boys were second in the state downhill last year. This winter, top returners are junior Nick Bachman (fifth in the slalom and 16th in the giant slalom as an all-star last year), senior Ben Weigel (eighth in the slalom, 11th in the GS, all-star) and sophomore Weston Scott (24th in the GS, all-star).
"We have a record number of kids, but it's a very young team," said eighth-year coach Tip Kimball. "The boys only have one senior. I think with a little bit of work, there's some talent."
The cross country team was fifth a year ago. This season, Falmouth is led by senior Eric D'Agostino (a league all-star who was 14th in the classic and 23rd in the freestyle at last year's Class B state meet). Junior Jackson Bloch (21st in the freestyle and 27th in the classic last year) and sophomore Tim Follo (22nd in the classic and 25th in the freestyle) also return and look to move up.
"We have some kids with an eye toward top-10 state finishes," said first-year coach Jesse Bastide, a former assistant with the program. "It's a fun, hardworking group and we're looking forward to seeing what we can do."
The girls' Alpine team came in fifth last year. This winter, returners include senior Caroline Clement (19th in the GS and 24th in the slalom at last year's state meet), junior Elizabeth Carew (26th slalom, 28th GS), sophomore Sarah Jacobson (30th slalom) and sophomore Macenzie Myers (35th slalom). Senior Casey Hilfrank (an all-conference selection last year) and sophomore Allie Lycan are also in the running. Freshman Sarah Weigel could soon be a household name. The squad's depth will pay dividends as Falmouth could be one of the best teams in the state.
"We have the largest girls' team we've ever had," Kimball said. "I think they'll have a promising year."
Nordic tied for sixth at last year's state meet. This season, junior Sarah Abramson (all-conference last winter) was eighth in the freestyle and 11th in the classic last year. Sophomore Catherine Hebson (25th freestyle) and sophomore Olivia Hoch (27th classic, 31st freestyle) also scored at states last year. The Yachtsmen will be in the hunt all the way.
"The returnees have stepped it up a notch," Bastide said. "The kids are showing a lot of motivation."
Greely is lurking in Class A. The Rangers downhill squad was seventh a year ago. This time, senior Luke Booth (seventh in the giant slalom at last year's state meet) leads the way. Several others are also on board, providing plenty of depth for what should be one of the best teams in the conference and state.
"With this type of depth, we should be competitive," said 13th-year coach Mark Ouellette. "We need to work as hard as possible to get into ski shape and mentally focused."
The Rangers were the third-best Nordic team in Class A a year ago. This time, the team is in good shape behind junior Sam Humphries, who was fourth in the Class A freestyle and seventh in the classic a year ago.
"We have a very young team this year," said fourth-year coach Evan Allen.
The girls' Alpine squad was seventh last season and is led by junior Cat Ferguson (16th in the GS) and senior Kelsey Ouellette (17th in the slalom).
"We have a boatload of Alpiners this year," said coach Ouellette. "This is the year we should be able to keep Yarmouth in reach for the conference title and maybe keep up with Mt. Blue at states."
Nordic was fourth a year ago. This season, sophomores Audrey Parolin and Lizzy Thomas are the experienced skiers and they're just sophomores. Several freshmen will have a chance to make an immediate impact. Expect dramatic improvement from the Rangers as the season progresses. By year's end, they'll be very dangerous.
"I'm hoping we improve week to week and have a whole lot of fun in the process," Allen said.
In Class C, Freeport has to like its chances. The boys' Alpine team was seventh a year ago. This winter, junior Ryan Collet (a reigning league all-star), who was runner-up in the slalom at last year's Class C meet and senior Ian Morency, who came in 26th in the giant slalom, should excel. Senior Christo Milholland (all-conference last year) is another skier to watch.
The Alpine girls placed third. Mia Taggert has experience. Sophomores Sarah Pier (an all-star a year ago), Sadie Russell and Mia Thomas also return. They make up a solid nucleus and should be competitive from start to finish.
"This is the biggest team we've had in many years," said fourth-year coach Eric Wallace. I'm looking forward to having last year's top middle schoolers. I think both teams will be pretty solid. We have a lot of skimeisters this year."
The Nordic boys were third last winter. This year's team is led by junior Scott Ross (fifth in the freestyle and 11th in the classic at last year's state meet), senior Chris Anthony, junior Spencer Egan and junior Bennett Wade.
The girls' team came in second and is aiming for the top spot. While standout Molly Susla has graduated, Freeport returns an all-star in senior Lindsey Merrill. Senior Kiera Berkemeyer and sophomore Emily Martin expect to be in the hunt, giving the Falcons enough scorers to be formidable.
As usual, Freeport has to be taken seriously when state championships are decided.
"My skiers have worked hard in the offseason," said second-year coach Emily Poole. "They seem really excited and motivated. Our boys didn't graduate any seniors, so we'll only be stronger. It's going to be a competitive team. The girls lost three of our top skiers. They'll definitely have to work hard, but I think overall that we're going to surprise some teams."
North Yarmouth Academy doesn't have an Alpine team, but will compete in Nordic.
Last year, the boys placed eighth at the state meet, while the girls did not score. This winter, the Panthers welcome new coach Kalie Dunn, a standout with the powerhouse Yarmouth program earlier in the decade before competing at St. Lawrence University.
The top female returner is senior Abbie McIvor (13th in the freestyle and 15th in the classic a year ago at states). The boys' team is young, but promising. Sophomore Cam Regan came in 28th in the freestyle and 28th in the classic at last year's state meet. Several classmates look to build on strong freshman seasons. Look for steady growth from the Panthers as the season progresses and for them to be in position to better last year's results at states.
"This year's team is small and a majority of it is still young, but I know that with the experience they gained last year, they're ready to improve their results at the big races toward the end of the season," said Dunn. "I hope to see some great results from Abbie at the state meet as well as an overall team improvement on the boys' side."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org