Local skiers monopolize titles again
Numerous team and individual champions were the dazzling array of glory produced by Forecaster Country skiers at last week's Class A, B and C state meets at various points on the map.
Another year of high school championships are in the books.
Here's a look back:
While the Greely girls' Alpine team continued its run of dominance (more on the Rangers in a moment), Falmouth was tremendous across the board.
With a full calendar year to stew over what could have been in 2012, the Falmouth boys' Alpine team (doomed by a series of falls a year ago) began last week's Class A giant slalom with two things in mind: Keep your speed and keep your feet.
Joseph Lesniak finished third overall, two other Falmouth skiers placed in the top 10 and five of the Yachtsmen's top six finished in the top 20 as they seized control of the competition.
"The first set (of gates) was pretty extreme," Falmouth coach Tip Kimball said. "They had to make some adjustments to ski it properly. It was kind of a crash waiting to happen if they didn't ski it properly. So yeah, it was, get down the hill, don't take any unnecessary risks and some nice solid finishes."
Lesniak, Thomas Devereux and Alexander Gowen all bettered their first runs on the giant slalom course with blistering second runs while maintaining a measure of control. One year ago, the favored Yachtsmen had trouble as a team staying on their feet, as did several teams, and they made sure this time, they, at the very least, would not have a repeat performance.
"We only lost one skier to a fall today. The rest skied well," Kimball said.
Lesniak had a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 54.99 seconds. Devereux was fifth (1:55.73), Gowen sixth (1:55.86) and Thomas Lesniak rounded out the scoring with an 18th-place finish (2:03.02), as Falmouth's 32 points left it well in front of Oxford Hills (76).
"Don't forget, we were in kind of the same position last year," Kimball said, after the first day. "So I'm not saying a word."
Greely's Sam Perimutter, one of the top skiers in the Western Maine Conference all season, blazed the way for the rest of the field, completing his two runs in 1:50.54, helping the Rangers come in third with 103 points.
Falmouth then went out and easily captured the slalom as well, as four skiers placed in the top 13, helping the Yachtsmen avenge their year-old collapse in grand fashion.
Devereux was second in 1:18.04. Joe Lesniak finished fourth (1:24.20), Tom Lesniak 12th (1:28.44) and Cooper Lycan 14th (1:28.71).
"You don't want them to back off, because sometimes when you back off, if you're not attacking the gates, that's when you have problems," Kimball said. "So you need to attack it still, but you have to ski smart, and they did that. They did all right."
Falmouth's Alpine total of 64 points easily eclipsed runner-up Oxford Hills (158). Greely (215) wound up seventh. The Rangers got an 11th-place finish from Will Bryant in the slalom (1:28.06).
Falmouth's boys were equally as successful on the Nordic side, winning both the freestyle and classic to take the championship at Black Mountain.
In the classic, Jay Lesser (third, 14 minutes, 13.6 seconds) and Gabriel Mahoney (ninth, 14:54.3) had top 10 finishes. Sam Pratico (14th, 15:49.8) and Scott Lambert (16th, 16:36.2) were the other scorers. Lesser was also third in the freestyle (12:26.30). Pratico came in 11th (13:27.3). Mahoney was 12th (13:29.1) and Iain Kurry 16th (14:01.9).
"The skiing in southern Maine is very strong, and we're lucky to have teams like Freeport, Merriconeag, Yarmouth. They just make us better skiers when we come to bigger events like this," Falmouth coach James Demer said.
Greely was seventh in Nordic. Doug Mitiguy placed 20th in the classic (16:47.7). Ian Byron was 23rd (16:56.5). Byron was 26th in the freestyle (14:32.9). Mitiguy came in 29th (14:39.2).
Overall, the Falmouth Alpine and Nordic boys' teams had a score of 148, which was 148 better than runner-up Mt. Blue, as the Yachtsmen took home the coveted combined Class A championship.
"Our main goal is to get the Alpine, for sure, but the Nordic team did very well, too and congratulations to them," Kimball said.
Greely (468) wound up third combined.
Greely's Mitiguy was the Class A skimeister champion.
On the Class A girls' side, Greely continued its Alpine excellence, winning a second title in three seasons in overwhelming fashion.
The Rangers, who have won three straight Western Maine Conference crowns, won the 2011 Class A title, but a fall in the slalom last year cost them a title by five points. That event was the only loss Greely has suffered in three seasons.
This time around, nothing was going to keep the Rangers from a title.
Greely scored 24 points in the slalom, 53 better than Edward Little and 33 in the GS, 28 better than Edward Little, to take the Alpine crown with a total of 57 points, 81 clear of the Red Eddies.
In the giant slalom, Elyse Dinan (second, 1:46.95), Teal Otley (fourth, 1:49.31), Jordan Ouellette (ninth, 1:55.76) and Jill Booth (18th, 2:00.57) scored.
Not about to let anything bad happen in the slalom, the Rangers clinched the title with a flourish as Dinan was third (1:30.58), Otley fourth (1:34.49), Booth sixth (1:34.82) and Ouellette 11th (1:37.49).
"We didn't talk about last year at all," said Rangers coach Mark Ouellette. "It was a very focused group. I almost had to harness them back. It wasn't until the second slalom run until we let them go as fast as they wanted. All the girls are really good and team-oriented. We have balance, depth and commitment. They girls have thousands of hours of skiing. It's taken time to be this good. It's unfortunate we lost in the middle. It should be three years of undefeated skiing. I said last year, 'It's time to start a new streak.' We have."
By the way, if you think this was the end of Greely's run of dominance, guess again, as only one senior (Jordan Ouellette) graduates and Booth, Dinan, Otley and Kelsey Otley all return.
"Next year should be more of the same," coach Ouellette said.
Falmouth's girls were fifth in Alpine. Krysia Lesniak was fifth in the GS (1:52.59) and eighth in the slalom (1:36.63), while Alex Shapiro placed ninth in the slalom (1:36.72) and 12th in the GS (1:56.08).
Falmouth had a better showing on the Nordic side, edging Portland for the top spot.
The Yachtsmen beat the Bulldogs, 31-38 in the classic and 30-41 in the freestyle to take the title, 61-79.
In the classic, Caitlin Bucksbaum was fifth (17:51.6), Dana Bloch sixth (18:05.6), Emily Rioux eighth (18:41.9) and London Bernier 12th (18:45.8). Four Falmouth girls were in the top 10 in the freestyle, as Bucksbaum was sixth (15:59.10), Anna Morin seventh (16:25.60), Bloch eighth (16:27.40) and Bernier ninth (16:32.70).
"We've been building all year and we've been improving all year," Falmouth coach Jeff Walker said. "It all came together at the end."
Greely wound up eighth on the Nordic side. Emily Follett was 39th in the freestyle (19:56.8) and 42nd in the classic (23:42.7).
In the combined standings, Falmouth finished second by two points to Oxford Hills. Greely was fourth.
Greely's Jessie Hoffman was runner-up in the Class A skimeister standings.
Yarmouth swept the overall Nordic title for the second year in a row. The girls captured their third consecutive championship after dominating last Thursday's skate with four of the top nine finishers.
Olivia Conrad (fifth, 15:37.60), Emma Torres (sixth, 15:39.00), Lucy Alexander (seventh, 15:41.60) and Caitlin Teare (ninth, 15:47.50) led the way, with Ellie Teare (10th, 15:59.30) also finishing in the top 10, but not scoring.
In the classic, Caitlin Teare was third (17:34.9), Ellie Teare sixth (18:15.1), Ihila Lesnikova seventh (18:15.4) and Conrad ninth (18:19.6).
Yarmouth beat Caribou by 17 points to take the Nordic title.
The Clippers were even more dominant on the boys' side, accumulating just 24 points in the skate to wrap up their second consecutive title with 38 total points over the two days, 42 points ahead of runner-up Maranacook.
The Clippers' performance was especially stunning considering they lost a number of top skiers not only to graduation, but to private skiing academies, but junior Braden Becker led the wave of new talent by winning both the classical and skate titles.
Becker credited long-time coach Bob Morse with getting the Clippers back to the top despite having considerably less depth this season.
"It's all in the coaching," he said. "We had a really small team this year. We just banded together and really attacked it. We lost our three best skiers and it was looking very dark at the beginning of the season, but we pulled it together."
Becker battled the bitter cold and wind to win the skate in 12:20.1. The followed on the heels of Becker's win in the classic in 14:21.3.
"Compared to (Wednesday), it was completely different conditions, so it took a little time getting used to that," Becker said. "But the coaches talked us through the race strategy, how to attack the wind, and it worked really well. It was a little tough in the stadium with the wind, but once you were in the woods, it wasn't bad."
Becker got plenty of help from Sam Alexander (third in the skate, 12:48.0; 11th in the classic, 16:02.3), Jackson Hall (fourth in the classic, 15:09.4; fourth in the skate, 13:00.4), Chester Jacobs (sixth in the skate, 13:10.8) and Jasper Houston (eighth in the classic, 15:50.4; ninth in the skate, 13:30.6).
On the Alpine side, Yarmouth took first with 76 points, 29 better than Maranacook.
Tucker Grout was runner-up in the slalom (1:16.34). Matt Highland came in third in the slalom (1:16.51) and was fifth in the giant slalom (1:33.91). Luke Lockwood placed ninth in the GS (1;38.94) and 15th in the slalom (1;23.64). Ethan Masse was 12th in the GS (1:39.99). Matt Woodbury finished 13th in the GS (1:40.39) and 17th in the slalom (1:24.06).
The Clippers girls wound up deadlocked with Mt. Abram (86-86) and shared the title. Chapin Dorsett led the way by finishing third in the GS (1:39.59) and fourth in the slalom (1:31.56). Also scoring were Julia Primeau (tie for fourth in the GS, 1:41.87; sixth in the slalom, 1:34.46),. Anna Bouton (eighth in the GS, 1:46.53; ninth in the slalom, 1:38.37), Campbell Dorsett (21st in the slalom, 1:53.85) and Kate Myers (31st in the GS, 2:06.26).
In the combined standings, both Yarmouth teams prevailed once again, the boys, 114-185 over Maranacook, and the girls, 138-259 over Maranacook.
"The boys' team approached states ready to race and defend their title against a vastly improved Maranaccok team," Morse said. "The classic race was very close. It was our strong performance in the skate race, where we had four skiers in front of Maranacook's No. 1 skier, that put Maranacook in a snowdrift. The boys' teams had their best races of the season at states.
"The girls' team left for states with our No. 1 skier, Sarah Becker, out with the flu, but with strong leadership from captain Alex Lucas and strong skiing from captain Olivia Conrad, the girls' team outskied the strong team from Caribou. Super strong performances from a very well balanced team of Olivia Conrad, Ihila Lesnikova, Ellie Teare, Caitlin Teare, Emma Torres and Lucy Alexander.
"The girls won their 16th four-event state ski championship and the boys won their 14th with a clean sweep of all four events. I want to thank my coaching staff of J.B. Sullivan, Meahan Tousaint, Mike Yeo and head Alpine coach Bob Grout and his assistant, Erin Cianchette, for all of their help and support during this championship season."
Freeport continued to excel in Class C as the girls won the combined championship (195-268 over Fort Kent), while the boys were a narrow second to Fort Kent (153-157).
The girls were third in Alpine, getting top 10 finishes from Taylor Enrico in the slalom (third, 1:40.73) and the GS (fourth, 1;34.12), and from Wynne Cushing in the GS (sixth, 1:37.03) and the slalom (ninth, 1:48.02).
Freeport was second in Nordic (more on the winner in a moment), getting strong showings from Elizabeth Martin (third overall, but first for scoring purposes in the skate, 16:36.5; second in the classic, 19:46.7), Lily Johnston (fourth in the classic, 20:41.7), Virginia Moore (seventh in the skate, 18:19.8; eighth in the classic, 21:33.2), Bethanie Knighton (eighth in the skate, 18;30.1; 10th in the classic, 21:36.4) and Fiona Ahearne (10th in the skate, 18:39.7).
The Falcons boys' Alpine team came in second behind Fort Kent. Ryder Bennell stole the show by winning the GS in 1:27.75. He was also fifth in the slalom (1:36.95). Blake Enrico was runner-up to Bennell in the GS (1:29.18) and third in the slalom (1:34.35). Caleb Abbott (sixth in the GS, 1:30.91; seventh in the slalom, 1:37.38) and Brady Davis 10th in the GS (1:32.78) all had top 10 finishes.
On the Nordic side, Freeport was second as Forrest McCurdy was fifth in the freestyle (14:38.7) and seventh in the classic (17:28.5). Elijah McCurdy (sixth, 17:21.9) and Mason Cyr (eighth, 18:02.8) also made the top 10 in the classic.
Merriconeag swept the Class C Nordic titles this winter.
The girls won their third straight, while the boys did it for the first time.
The boys got a runner-up finish from Jack Pierce in the freestyle (13:43.3). Pierce was fourth in the classic (16:11.7). Graham Roeber (sixth in the classic, 17:21.3; ninth in the freestyle, 14:50.5), Ben Tindall (seventh in the classic, 17:21.4; seventh in the freestyle, 14:45.6) also had top 10 finishes.
North Yarmouth finished 12th. Haley Cunningham was 13th in the classic (18:24.3) and 19th in the freestyle (15:47.1).
Merriconeag's girls' crown was sparked by Emelie Chace-Donahue, who was third in the classic (19:23.9) and fourth in the skate (16:54.5). Samantha Pierce (fifth in the classic, 20:21.3; fifth in the skate, 17:03.2), Zoe Chace-Donahue (sixth in the skate, 17:11.4; eighth in the classic, 20:50.4) and Teagan Wu (seventh in the classic, 20:49.6; eighth in the skate, 17:53.0) also scored.
NYA came in 11th. The Panthers got a 35th-place finish from Melanie Regan in the skate (21:48.2). Isabella Monro was 36th in the classic (25:00.5).
Sun Journal sports editor Justin Pelletier and staff writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.