Freeport Falcons Winter Sports Preview

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Junior Caroline Smith and her Freeport girls’ basketball teammates are coming off a season to remember, one which extended all the way to the regional final. This winter, Smith is a top returner for the Falcons who hope to make some noise again.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Bill Ridge (fourth year, 19-37 overall record)

2017-18 record: 11-9 (Lost, 52-45, to Wells in Class B South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Caleb Arsenault (Senior), Kaleb Barrett (Senior), Toby Holt (Senior), Eriksen Shea (Senior), Shea Wagner (Senior), Gabe Wagner (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 11 @ Yarmouth, Dec. 13 GRAY-NG, Jan. 10 @ Greely, Jan. 15 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 18 YARMOUTH, Jan. 22 @ Waynflete, Feb. 5 WELLS, Feb. 7 @ Gray-NG

Coach’s comment: “We have eight guys back, including five seniors. We liked being the underdog, but that won’t be the case this year. There’s no question these guys expect to go out and be a top contender. The energy and expectation of success at the high school carries over season to season. The conference will be tough, but we believe we’ll play at the Expo and the goal is to get to the Civic Center (for the semifinals). We’ll see if we can make something happen.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Golden Age of Freeport athletics continues as after a glorious fall, capped by the boys’ soccer team reaching the state final, several of those kids have moved on to basketball, hoping to build on the program’s first trip to the tournament in a decade. The Falcons have some top-notch talent returning and they won’t be content just qualifying for the playoffs.

Holt, a second-team league all-star a year ago, could be one of the best players in the conference this season. He’ll be a matchup nightmare inside and out. Shea will share point guard duties with Gabe Wagner. Both will set up teammates and put the ball in the basket. Fall Male Athlete of the Year Shea Wagner (a forward), Arsenault (a guard) and Barrett (a guard) also have experience. Junior guard Heath Cockburn, best known for his pitching exploits in the spring, sophomore forward Alex Helie and 6-foot-6-inch sophomore center Elias Thomas will play key roles as well.

While defending regional champion Wells is viewed as the team to beat in Class B South, things are up for grabs after that and Freeport would love to step into that void. The Falcons last played in a semifinal in 2008. This year’s squad is capable of not just getting there, but moving on and keeping the Freeport athletic good times rolling.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Seth Farrington (first year)

2017-18 record: 16-5 (Lost, 42-34, to Lake Region in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Catriona Gould (Junior), Caroline Smith (Junior), Rachel Wall (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 11 @ Yarmouth, Dec. 13 @ Gray-NG, Jan. 10 GREELY, Jan. 18 YARMOUTH, Jan. 29 YORK, Jan. 31 LAKE REGION, Feb. 5 @ Wells, Feb. 7 GRAY-NG

Coach’s comment: “Our varsity experience took a hit, but we have a lot of good pieces in place. There’s a lot of talented athletes. Caroline will be one of the top players in the conference. It’s up to the other kids to make open shots because they’ll get them. We want to make it to the tournament again”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport is coming off its finest season in four decades, but the Falcons were hit hard by graduation in the wake of their run to the regional final. This winter, the program welcomes a new coach as Mike Hart has been replaced by Farrington, who spent last year coaching in Wiscasset after spending the previous two winters leading the North Yarmouth Academy girls. He takes over a team that could remain near the top of the heap.

Smith is the proven commodity and several other girls hope to step up and make their mark. Smith was a second-team all-star a year ago. This season, her versatility will serve her and her team well, as Smith will be utilized at point guard, as well as power forward. Gould, who scored goals in abundance this fall in soccer, will also see time at the point. Wall could be a force in the post, along with sophomore Hannah Groves. Juniors Abby Brier, Lindsay Routhier, Hannah Spaulding and Annika Thomas all provide depth in the backcourt.

Freeport will find the going more difficult this season, as the Falcons’ success of a year ago will get every opponents’ attention. Smith projects to do a lot of big things, but she’ll need help for this team to run at its full capacity. Look for some unfamiliar names to quickly step up and make their mark. Another tournament berth and perhaps another trip to the Civic Center could be the end result.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Brian Berkemeyer (11th year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 15th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) tie-9th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Nick Mitch (Senior)

(Girls) Tara Migliaccio (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We have a smaller team with a lot of athletes who are just discovering their potential. As always, we’ll work toward qualifying for states. It’s a rebuilding year. We could have a few surprises from underclassmen.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport doesn’t have the robust roster its accustomed to, but look for both Falcons teams to improve between now and February.

The boys return Mitch, who was seventh in the 400 last year. He looks to move up. Berkemeyer is hopeful Freeport will put together a strong 4×800 relay team. The Falcons will score some points before all is said and done.

On the girls’ side, Migliaccio hopes to move up a spot after finishing second in the 400 last year. She’ll also look to improve on a seventh-place showing in the 55. Migliaccio will be one of the best sprinters around. If a few other girls can step up, the Falcons could finish even higher than a year ago.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Jay Thomas (fourth year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 9th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Paul Biberstein (Senior), Ben Donsbach (Senior), Liam Grogan (Senior) Aaron Rusiecki (Senior), Parker Landsbergen (Junior)

(Girls) Bella St. Cyr (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Our hope it to capitalize on having a great group of returning juniors and seniors to move the team closer to the podium at the state meet.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport expects to be in contention all winter.

The boys return plenty of talent from a strong team. Grogan (22nd in the slalom and 23rd in the giant slalom), Landsberger (22nd in the GS, 27th in the slalom), Rusiecki (24th in the slalom, 25th in the GS) and Biberstein (28th in the GS, 32nd in the slalom) all will be formidable. Donsbach also has experience and freshman Andrew Morrissey is a nice addition. Don’t be surprised if the Falcons fly high and make a run at a championship.

On the girls’ side, St. Cyr returns. She was 15th in the slalom and 16th in the GS a year ago. Freshman Maisy St. Cyr could step right in and make a mark. Freeport has enough numbers to contend all year and move up at the state meet.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Joel Hinshaw (17th year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 3rd @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 4th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) John Giddens (Senior), Finn Johnston (Senior)

(Girls) Allison Greuel (Senior), Lily Horne (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “Even with the lack of snow, we’re very excited for the upcoming season. We have quite a bit of potential for the season. We hope to have a good outcome in both conference and state races. No matter the outcome, we’re excited for the opportunity to work with all skiers with passion and pride.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport again boasts some top-line talent this winter.

The boys bring back a pair of standouts, Giddens (fourth in the freestyle and sixth in the classical last season) and Johnston (sixth in the freestyle, 17th in the classical). Other skiers will have their chance to help the cause and the Falcons should be in the hunt for a state crown in February.

On the girls’ side, reigning Freeport Winter Female Athlete of the Year Horne looks to build on her success after placing third in the classical and fifth in the freestyle a year ago. Greuel (eighth in the classical, 10th in the freestyle) also returns. Look for more excellence from those veterans. The Falcons hope for some other contributors so they can finish in the top five again.

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

After helping lead Freeport’s boys’ soccer team to the cusp of a championship, senior Eriksen Shea will look to shoot the boys’ basketball squad deep into the tournament.

Toby Holt could be one of the conference’s top players this winter.

Look for big production from junior Gabe Wagner as well.

Coming off a soccer season which saw her score goals with abandon, sophomore Catriona Gould will play a big role for the girls’ basketball team.

Look for Nick Mitch to pace Freeport’s boys’ indoor track team this season.

Tara Migiliaccio will be a top sprinter and scorer for Freeport’s girls’ track team.

Allison Greuel is another key returner on the trails for the Falcons.

Lily Horne will be one of the best girls’ Nordic skiers in the state this winter.

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