Greely Rangers Winter Athletes of the Year

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2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year:

DAN SPENCER, Junior-Swimming

* Class B state champion, 100 freestyle

* Southern Maine Swim League first-team all-star, 100 freestyle

* SMSL first-team all-star, 200 free

* SMSL first-team all-star, 200 free relay

* SMSL first-team, all-star, 400 free relay

* Coaches’ Association All-State team

* All-State, 400 free relay

Dan Spencer was an event-winning swimmer on a state championship team his sophomore season.

That paled in comparison to his accomplishments this winter, as he swam his way into the state’s elite.

Spencer won another individual crown, earned all-league and all-state mention and helped Greely repeat as Class B champion. His devotion to swimming and willingness to take a more active leadership role paid big dividends.

For those accomplishments and attributes, Dan Spencer gets The Forecaster’s nod as Greely’s 2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year.

Spencer started swimming in the sixth grade and sought to make a mark as an underclassmen. He was sixth in Class B in the 100 free and ninth in the 200 free as a freshman, won the 100 free and was third in the 200 free as a sophomore and after increasing his stamina by competing in triathlons over the summer, was poised for a big season.

He produced one, helping Greely retain its status as a top-notch program, as the Rangers went undefeated against a very challenging slate in the regular year.

At Southwesterns, Spencer won the 100 butterfly and was part of a first-place 400 free relay team.

At states, Spencer repeated as 100 free champion and surprised many by coming in runner-up in the 200 free. He also helped the 200 medley and 400 free relay teams take first place, giving the Rangers critical points en route to the championship.

At New Englands, Spencer teamed with Jon Dunnett, Ian Mecray and Peter Pacent to win the 200 free relay.

Spencer, Mecray, Dunnett and Evan Campbell also set a new school record in the 400 free relay (3 minutes, 20.31 seconds) this season.

Spencer, who also swims with the Seacoast club team, participates in student council, drama and is a singer. For his senior season, he hopes to win the 100 free again, help Greely win another championship and set a school record. He also hopes to compete in college.

Don’t underestimate him. Dan Spencer, Greely’s 2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year, keeps getting better and should produce plenty of memories in the future.

Coach Rob Hale’s comment: “Dan took his swimming to another level this year. He’s now mentioned in the same breath as the other elite swimmers. He can compete on the state level in multiple events. Coaches were very impressed with his gutsy swims against swimmers who were previously considered above him. He doesn’t back away from a fight. He has always led by example, but this year, he became more verbal and interacted with more of his teammates. His determination is unparalleled.”

2009-10 winner: Mark McCauley (Indoor track)

2008-09 winner: Kevin Hart (Hockey)

2007-08 winner: Nathan Mecray (Swimming)

2006-07 winner: Nathan Mecray (Swimming)

2005-06 winner: Drew Bowden (Hockey)

2004-05 winner: Ben Knowles (Skiing)

2003-04 winner: Kerry Burke (Indoor track)

2002-03 winner: John Loren (Indoor track)

2001-02 winner: Tim Apuzzo (Basketball)

2010-11 Winter Female Athlete of the Year:

SARAH EASTERLING, Sophomore-Swimming

* Class B state champion, 100 backstroke

* Class B state champion, 200 individual medley

* Class B Female Swimmer of the Year

* New England champion, 200 IM

* New England champion, 100 backstroke

* Southern Maine Swim League first-team all-star, 100 backstroke

* SMSL first-team all-star, 200 IM

* SMSL first-team all-star, 200 medley relay

* SMSL first-team, all-star, 400 free relay

* All-State, 200 IM

* All-State, 200 medley relay

* All-State, 400 free relay

* Coaches’ Association All-State team

After a spectacular freshman season, people wondered what Sarah Easterling would do for an encore.

The answer can only be summed up in one word, “Wow!”

Easterling repeated as state champion in two events, won two New England races, set records and cemented her status as the finest female swimmer around.

You can only imagine what the next encore season will contain.

For continuing to set the bar for swimming excellence, for being so good, so devoted to her performance and her teammates and for sparkling on the biggest stage time and again, Sarah Easterling is The Forecaster’s choice as Greely’s 2010-11 Winter Female Athlete of the Year.

Easterling started to swim at a young age and soon became a year-round devotee. She competes with the Westbrook Seals and trains upwards of 15 hours a week (only resting on Sundays).

Her freshman season, Easterling won the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley, setting school records in both events.

This season, she helped the Rangers win every regular season meet but one, then put on a show in the postseason, showing her dexterity in the process.

At Southwesterns, Easterling won the 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and helped the 400 free relay team to a first-place finish and a new record time of 3 minutes, 40.61 seconds.

At states, where Greely was second to Mt. Desert Island, Easterling won the 100 backstroke and the 200 IM and helped the 400 free relay team also place first.

Then, at the New England championship meet, against the crème de la crème of regional swimmers, Easterling set a new New England record in winning the backstroke (59.79 seconds), also took the IM and teamed with Katie Whittum, Megan Stroud and Sara Schad to set a new state and New England record in the 400 free relay (3 minutes, 40.53 seconds). That foursome also won the 200 free relay in a New England record time of 1:42.35.

Easterling now holds school records in the 100 free, 200 free, IM, backstroke, breaststroke and all three relays, pool records in the IM, breaststroke, 200 free and 200 free relay and three pool records at rival schools. She capped her season with with numerous postseason honors, highlighted by being selected the top female Class B swimmer in the state of Maine.

Through it all, she remains modest and grounded and determined to keep getting better, stressing that some of her favorite memories came with her relay teammates.

Easterling hopes to keep improving her times and eventually swim in college at the Division I level, perhaps at a top-rate school down South.

You can bet that she’s gotten the attention of college coaches. Sarah Easterling, Greely’s 2010-11 Winter Female Athlete of the Year, has redefined girls’ swimming pre-eminence.

Coach Rob Hale’s comment: “Sarah’s versatility gives us options. When going into a particular meet, I will try to come up with a lineup that is going to be successful. I will first do this without Sarah, then I will go back and plug her into our weak events. Don’t let the polite, unassuming, and always positive young lady fool you. Away from the pool she is a sweetheart, but as a swimmer, Sarah is a wolf in sheep’s clothes. When the horn goes off, there is no one more competitive. She does not want to let her team down. She does not take races off, every race is an opportunity to get better. As a teammate, they don’t come any better. Sarah has earned the respect and admiration from everyone. I have never heard any grumblings from her teammates. There is no jealousy or resentment towards her success. They know she has put in the work. Sarah is the rare athlete with the combination of natural ability and a work ethic.”

2009-10 winner: Sarah Easterling (Swimming)

2008-09 winner: Sara Schad (Swimming)

2007-08 winner: Becky O’Brien (Indoor track)

2006-07 winner: Dani Cyr (Hockey)

2005-06 winner: Becky O’Brien (Indoor track)

2004-05 winner: Rebecca Furey (Indoor track)

2003-04 winner: Steph Ginn (Basketball)

2002-03 winner: Abby Chapman (Indoor track)

2001-02 winner: Mandy Bowden (Skiing)

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