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Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

Waynflete is coming off a triumphant fall sports season and hopes to make magic again this winter. Girls' basketball stole all the headlines last year, winning a first ever Class C championship, while also producing the Miss Maine Basketball award winner. This year's team has some holes to fill, but it's populated by girls who are used to winning and by season's end, we'll be hearing plenty about the Flyers. The boys' team fell one win shy of playing for a championship last winter and this time around, Waynflete could very well finish the job. Swimming has a new coach, but once again features some top-notch talent, while Nordic skiing will make some noise as well. Five girls' hockey players, senior Gretchen Stevens, juniors Gavi King and Allison Mills and freshmen Chloe Daikh and Althea Sellers, are competing on the Capeflete co-op

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Rich Henry (10th year, 97-71 overall record)

2012-13 record: 17-2 (Lost, 70-52, to Boothbay in Western C Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Henry Cleaves (Senior), Serge Nyirikamba (Senior), Joe Schnier (Senior), Harry Baker-Connick (Junior), Pace Hutchinson (Junior), Abel Alemayo (Sophomore), Milo Belleau (Sophomore), Willy Burdick (Sophomore), Will Nelligan (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 @ NYA, Dec. 17 @ Traip, Dec. 19 OOB, Jan. 4 WELLS, Jan. 7 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 11 NYA, Jan. 14 LAKE REGION, Jan. 24 TRAIP, Jan. 25 @ OOB, Feb. 1 @ Sacopee, Feb. 7 HYDE

COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated three starters who were tri-captains, along with our 'energizer bunny' off the bench. Players like Harry, Henry, Joe and Serge all played significant minutes last year, so there's a great group of seasoned veterans to establish our foundation. I'm very pleased with the development our younger players have shown. I look for them to make significant contributions. We've worked very hard in practice and we've been tested in scrimmages. It's a great group of young men and the team chemistry appears to be very good. In my experience, these attributes tend to lead to good things over the course of the season. With our schedule, we'll have our work cut out for us.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Waynflete made it to the regional final last year for the first time in three decades, as Nyirikamba was named Winter Male Athlete of the Year and Henry garnered Coach of the Year honors. While the loss of captains Max Belleau, Jack Cutler, Kevin Kanakan, Paul Runyambo and Mohammed Suja will be difficult to overcome, the Flyers have the potential to be very, very good once again in 2013-14. Baker-Connick saw time at point guard last winter and he's poised to fill Belleau and Cutler's shoes nicely at that spot. He's selfless, but is also more than capable of putting the ball in the basket when necessary. Alemayo and Burdick will also see time in the point guard role. Nyirikamba (a first-team Western Maine Conference all-star last winter) will certainly pace the offense. He was third in the conference last winter with 16 points per game and could make a run at the 20 mark this season. Milo Belleau and Cleaves will also score their share of points. Hutchinson and Schnier will be workhorses in the frontcourt, while Nelligan provides depth at the guard position. The Flyers will be tested often during the regular season, as several Class B foes dot the schedule. While Waynflete probably won't match last year's win-loss record, it should be primed to make a playoff run come February. The Flyers now know what it takes to win in Augusta and after coming so close a year ago, they'd love to finish in style this time around. They have the necessary ingredients to produce a culmination to that dream.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Brandon Salway (seventh year, 99-27 overall record, one state championship)

2012-13 record: 20-3 (Beat Calais, 59-55, to win first Class C state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS:, Leigh Fernandez (Senior), Helen Gray-Bauer (Junior), Julianna Harwood (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 NYA, Dec. 17 TRAIP, Dec. 19 @ OOB, Jan. 3 @ Wells, Jan. 7 YARMOUTH, Jan. 11 @ NYA, Jan. 14 @ Lake Region, Jan. 17 POLAND, Jan. 24 @ Traip, Jan. 25 OOB

COACH’S COMMENT: “It's a work in progress. We're not trying to compare ourselves ability-wise to last year, but we're trying to have a similar effort. We have several players who are used to winning. They know what kind of effort it takes to be successful and although that won't always translate into wins, it does give you a great chance to improve. The schedule's very tough. There aren't very many easy games. Not much will come easily. We'll work hard and be a lot better in two months than we are now. The goal is to get back to Augusta and see what happens.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Before we move on to this season, let's take a moment to once more appreciate just how special the 2012-13 Flyers were. After several close calls, Waynflete got to the state final and somehow dug out of a deep hole behind the brilliance of Martha Veroneau to beat Calais to capture the Gold Ball. Veroneau then was named Miss Maine Basketball, a rarity for a Class C player. That team and experience can't be matched, especially after the departure of Veroneau, Catherine Veroneau, Rhiannan Jackson and Anne Veroneau, but this edition has a chance to steal some headlines as well. For starters, there's the human victory cigar, Fernandez, who has now captured a championship in five straight sports seasons after helping soccer reach the pinnacle last month. Fernandez, Waynflete's Fall Female Athlete of the Year, has played a key role in some big games over the years and will run the offense this season at point guard (she was ninth in the league last year with 3 assists per game and ranked 11th in made 3-pointers with 18). The reigning second-team Western Maine Conference all-star will also look to score her share of points. Harwood (a first-team all-star last year) will be a force inside and she can step back and make some shots as well. Gray-Bauer is on the verge of a breakout season and she will help fill the scoring void left by Martha Veroneau's departure. Several others role players from a year ago return in bigger spots this season. That group includes seniors Louise Lyall (a forward) and Emily Wasserman (guard/forward), junior Dana Peirce (forward) and sophomore Arianna Giguere (forward). A couple freshmen forwards, Annika Brooks and Ali Pope, are new to the team and provide depth. Waynflete will be severely tested by a schedule that includes some of the best teams in Classes B, C and D, but that slate will only make the Flyers tougher come tournament time. When handicapping Waynflete's chances, it's easy to look at what the program has lost and overlook what it returns, but this is still a dynamic, hungry and talented group, one that knows how to and expects to win. The accomplished trio of Fernandez, Gray-Bauer and Harwood will carry this squad a long way. A return trip to Augusta is likely, as is playing more than one game there. While a repeat title might be a stretch, it's never wise to count the Flyers out.

SWIMMING

COACH: John Stevens (first year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) 9th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class B state meet

SWIMMERS TO WATCH:

(BOYS) Austin Fanberg (Junior), Sam Frederick (Junior), Tom Silk (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Sofia Canning (Senior), Amelia Deady (Senior), Colby Harvey (Senior), Ellen Silk (Senior)

COACH'S COMMENT: “Our team is looking great this season. The girls are looking to win their third consecutive Southwestern championship, a challenging, but attainable goal. We have a core group of seniors looking to go out with a bang. Individual state records are goals for each of them. The boys have a strong contingent of freshmen looking to bolster a great group of upperclassmen. They will surely improve on last year's finish..”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both Waynflete teams are looking strong as a new season begins under a new coach in Stevens, who was a co-coach with Jim Harvey last year. Stevens swam for the Portland Porpoise Swim Club and briefly at Portland High before going on to compete at the University of Miami. He's also coached at the college and national levels. He inherits a talented program.

The boys will miss the graduated Luke Jeton, who was Class B runner-up in both the 200 and 500 freestyle a year ago. This year's team features Fanburg (butterfly, backstroke), Frederick (50 free, backstroke) and Silk (50 free, backstroke). Three freshmen will be heard from as well. Booway Bikales (distance freestyle), Caleb Levine (fly, 500 free) and Peterson Silk (backstroke, breaststroke) will help lead the Flyers up the standings at the big meets.

On the girls' side, Waynflete has turned heads for the past three years, thanks to a special core of girls who played a huge part in the program's resurgence since freshmen year. The Florida State-bound Harvey is the defending state champion in the 200 free and the fly. She'll look to score in the IM as well this winter. Deady was part of two state champion relays and was runner-up in both the 100 and 200 free last year. Silk was also a multiple relay champion and placed second in the fly and third in the 500 free. Canning is a distance standout as well. Freshman Kiera MacWhinnie joins the squad and provides depth in the 100 and 200 freestyle, as well as the backstroke. The pieces are in place for the Flyers to be solid all season and to really be a factor in February. Look for some great individual successes as well in the weeks to come.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Ben Taska (second year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) 7th @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) 10th @ Class C state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Nick Boulos (Junior), Aidan Olney (Junior)

(GIRLS) Phoebe Colvin-Oehmig (Junior), Marijke Rowse (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We're a young team this season, with not a single senior. We have a smaller squad than last year, however, we have a very cohesive group, which will be a strong suit for us. We'll look to excel with our depth, as well as improving performances from our top returnees. I believe we'll be able to make a big improvement over last year at states. I look forward to seeing where we can go this year with our motivated and very hardworking crew.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Waynflete is looking to move up the standings this winter and should produce some very good performances.

The boys' team has two key returners: Olney, who was 20th in both the classic and skate races last year at Class C states, and Boulos, who was 61st in the skate and 71st in the classic. Junior Julian Ireland is new to the team, as is freshman Ellis Heminway. That core should improve steadily in the weeks to come and could be in line to better last year's results at the big February meets.

On the girls' side, Rowse is coming off a 25th-place showing in the skate and a 26th-place finish in the classic. Colvin-Oehmig (31st in the classic and 55th in the skate last year) is another returner to watch. Freshman Ellie Chidsey could quickly become a factor as well. The Flyers will make the most of their small numbers and will only get better in the weeks to come.

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

Photo: Brian Beard

Senior Henry Cleaves is a top player and leader for the Flyers.

Photo: Brian Beard

Senior Serge Nyirikamba is the school's reigning Winter Male Athlete of the Year and is looking for another big season.

Photo: Brian Beard

Senior Joey Schnier is another top leader and performer for a deep and balanced Flyers squad.

Photo: Brian Beard

All she does is win championships, but you could argue that senior Leigh "First Place" Fernandez is still underappreciated. She'll go for a title in a sixth straight sports season this winter.

Photo: Brian Beard

Junior Julianna Harwood will be a force in the paint and on the perimeter.

Photo: Brian Beard

Junior Helen Gray-Bauer is in line for a breakout season.

Photo:

Waynflete senior Amelia Deady is one of the top freestyle swimmers in Class B and is hoping to win a state title this winter.

Photo:

Senior Ellen Silk is a distance specialist who hopes to bow out with a bang.