Farewell to 2013, a year of triumph and thrills
Every year we rave about the drama produced by local high school sports athletes, then the calendar flips and they go out and raise the bar another notch.
That was certainly the case in 2013.
From start to finish.
With another winter season underway and the calendar now reading 2014, here's one final look back at the thrills that made up 2013.
When 2012 gave way to 2013, Falmouth's boys basketball team was already separating itself from the pack, crushing just about every foe in its path. Greely and Yarmouth were also playoff-bound.
On the girls' side, it was Greely leading the way, but Freeport was enjoying its best season in a decade and Falmouth was also making a push for the postseason.
On the ice, the defending Class B champion Greely boys were the favorite to repeat, while Falmouth was once again in the mix for its elusive first championship.
On the girls' side, defending champion Greely appeared to have the pieces in place to repeat, while Falmouth projected to be one of the top contenders in the West Region.
Skiing, swimming and track teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.
Greely's Nick Vogel, competing as an individual, won the Class A wrestling title at 160 pounds.
In indoor track, four individuals won Class B championships. Falmouth's Jacob Buhelt won the boys' 200, teammate Azad Jalali took the boys' 800 and Greely's James Ferrar (boys' shot put) and Gwen Sawyer (girls' shot put) also had no peer.
In the pool, there were no shortage of stellar performances. Greely's boys' team won another Class B state crown. The girls didn't finish first, but standout Sarah Easterling won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke and teammate Hwanhee Park took the 500 freestyle. Falmouth's Charlotte Janelle (girls' diving) and Jake Perron (boys' 500 free), North Yarmouth Academy's Sonia Lin (girls' 100 breaststroke) and Yarmouth's Evan Coleman (boys' backstroke) were also the best in Class B in their respective events.
The slopes and trails were where locals starred the brightest. Team champions included the Falmouth boys in Alpine, Nordic and combined, the Falmouth girls in Nordic, the Freeport girls in combined, the Greely girls in Alpine, Merriconeag's boys and girls in Nordic and Yarmouth's boys in Alpine, Nordic and combined and girls in Alpine, Nordic and combined.
Individually, Freeport's Ryder Bennell won the Class C boys' giant slalom. Greely's Doug Mitiguy was the winner of the Class A boys' skimeister competition, while teammate Sam Perlmutter took the boys' Class A giant slalom. Yarmouth's Braden Becker was a double Nordic champion, taking the Class B classic and skate.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, in Western B, Falmouth had no trouble with Maranacook, Mountain Valley and York to reach the Class B state final for the second time in four seasons. Greely, which lost to York in the quarterfinals, and Yarmouth, ousted by Maranacook in the preliminary round, weren't as fortunate.
On the girls' side, Greely edged Falmouth in a thrilling Western B preliminary round game, while Freeport held off Maranacook to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in a decade. There, the Falcons were ousted by eventual regional champion Lake Region, which went on to beat Greely in the semifinal round.
Hockey brought an abundance of glory to the area. First, the Greely girls edged Scarborough in overtime to repeat as state champion. The Falmouth and Greely boys' teams then advanced to the regional finals in Lewiston.
The first Saturday of March saw a Falmouth coronation on the hardwood. The Yachtsmen had no trouble with Medomak Valley, 62-39, to take the Class B state championship.
On the ice, Falmouth ended years of frustration with a palpitating come-from-behind win over Scarborough in the Western A Final, then blanked Lewiston, 4-0, to win its first state championship. Greely then beat Messalonskee for the second year in a row in the Class B state final, 3-0.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
On the diamond, defending Class B champion Falmouth, along with Greely and Yarmouth, was among the best baseball squads around.
Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth were some of the best softball teams in the region.
Boys' lacrosse featured strong play from two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth, as well as Freeport, Greely, NYA and Yarmouth
On the girls' side, Yarmouth looked like the best bet for a championship, but Falmouth, Freeport and Greely were also very competitive.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from several teams, most notably the Falmouth girls' juggernaut.
On the first Saturday of the month, Falmouth's Jacob Buhelt (boys' 400), Freeport's Lexi Dietrich (girls' 200) and Harrison Stivers (boys' 400 and 800), Greely's Gwen Sawyer (girls' shot put) and NYA's Muriel Adams (girls' discus) and Jake Burns (boys' 300 hurdles) all won individual outdoor track championships.
Falmouth's girls' tennis team not only won its sixth straight Class B state championship and extended its match win streak to 93, but it also produced the individual girls' singles champion, Olivia Leavitt.
On the diamond, Falmouth reached the regional final, but wasn't able to repeat. Greely was the best team in the regular season. Yarmouth also made the playoffs. All three teams were vanquished by eventual champion York.
Greely's softball team made its first state game appearance in over a decade, but lost to Oceanside. Falmouth and Yarmouth also made it to the postseason, but lost to Poland and Greely, respectively.
Yarmouth's boys' lacrosse team woke up the echoes, reaching the Class B Final for the first time in three years, but it lost to Cape Elizabeth, 7-4. Falmouth (in an overtime heartbreaker against Cape Elizabeth in the regional final) and North Yarmouth Academy (to Yarmouth in an epic semifinal) dropped painful playoff games. Freeport and Greely also got to the playoffs.
On the girls' side, Yarmouth got to the Class B state final and gave Waynflete a scare before falling, 7-4. Falmouth (ousted by York in the quarterfinals), Freeport (eliminated by Yarmouth in the semifinals) and Greely (beaten by Cape Elizabeth in the semis) also took part in the postseason.
July and August
High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.
Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball excitement.
On the gridiron, Falmouth, Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth all got off to promising starts.
On the pitch, Greely and Yarmouth were living up to billing as top boys' teams and were joined by an unheralded squad from NYA, which simply couldn't be beaten. Two-time defending state champion Falmouth and Freeport weren't too shabby either.
On the girls' side, three-time defending champion Falmouth was up to its usual winning tricks, while Freeport, Greely, NYA and Yarmouth all made pushes for the playoffs.
NYA's field hockey team was again the best in the area, but it got pushed by crosstown rival Yarmouth. Falmouth, Freeport and Greely won its share of games.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come and volleyball produced some memorable matches as title contenders Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth and vastly improved NYA all turned heads.
All Falmouth's golf team seems to do is win state titles and 2013 was no different as the Yachtsmen captured the Class A crown. Greely came in fourth. NYA and Yarmouth also made it to states.
NYA's field hockey team beat Telstar, Yarmouth (which won a home playoff game for the first time this century) and finally Lisbon in a regional final thriller to reach the Class C state game once again. Falmouth won its first ever Class A playoff game, against Sanford, then was ousted down at Massabesic in the semifinals. Freeport edged Greely in a Western B prelim, then lost at York.
Falmouth's volleyball team handled Biddeford in its Class A quarterfinal match, then rallied from the brink of disaster to outlast Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, earning a shot at Scarborough at the state match. Greely made it to the semifinals, then dropped a thriller to Scarborough. In Class B, NYA took part in the postseason for the first time, but lost in five sets at Calais. Yarmouth then beat Calais in the semifinals to reach the state final match for the second time in three years.
The soccer playoffs began with Falmouth's boys winning a Western A prelim over Bonny Eagle, but the Yachtsmen were ousted by Portland in the quarterfinals. In Western C, NYA had to go to overtime to beat rival Waynflete in the quarterfinals, In Western B, Freeport lost to Fryeburg in the preliminary round. Not surprisingly, Greely and Yarmouth made it to the regional final.
On the girls' side, NYA lost in overtime to Monmouth in the Western C preliminary round. Freeport upset Yarmouth in the quarterfinals. Greely passed its first playoff test, beating Leavitt. Falmouth won its first ever Class A playoff game, a quarterfinal over Biddeford.
Falmouth, Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth's football teams all qualified for the playoffs.
Freeport's girls' cross country team won a Western B championship. Every team but the Greely boys qualified for the state meet.
The second day of the month, brought championship drama.
Greely's Kirstin Sandreuter won the girls' Class B cross country individual title.
On the court, Falmouth's volleyball team avenged its only regular season losses by downing Scarborough in four sets for a first ever Class A title. Hours later, Yarmouth rallied from two games down to shock Washington Academy in a five-set classic.
NYA's field hockey team was seeking a fourth Class C crown in six seasons, but dropped a 1-0 decision to Foxcroft Academy.
All four football teams dropped their first game: Falmouth losing at Marshwood, Freeport at Spruce Mountain, Greely at home to Westbrook and Yarmouth at home to Cape Elizabeth.
That left soccer.
Falmouth's three-year run as girls' champion was ended by Thornton Academy in the semifinals. Freeport also lost in that round, at Cape Elizabeth. Greely got to the Western B Final, but was also eliminated by Cape Elizabeth, which went on to win the Gold Ball.
On the boys' side, in Western C, NYA dropped a one-goal heartbreaker at eventual champion Maranacook in the semifinals, the Panthers' first and only loss all season. Greely went to Yarmouth for the Western B Final with most expecting the sizzling Clippers to romp, as they had just beaten the Rangers by three goals three weeks prior, but this time, Greely bounced back from an early deficit and shocked the world, 2-1, on standout Matt Crowley's late goal. Three days later at states, the Rangers won their first Class B title in almost four decades, 1-0, over Camden Hills, thanks to an early goal from Jacob Nason.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys' basketball, Falmouth is now competing in Class A, but remains championship-caliber. Greely has already beaten the Yachtsmen and is seeking to make a run at its first Class B crown this century. Yarmouth will be in the hunt as well.
On the girls' side, Greely is off to another strong start. Falmouth and Freeport have what it takes to qualify for the tournament and you can't write off NYA or Yarmouth.
On the ice, Falmouth's boys have the pieces in place to repeat. Greely is going for three in a row, but graduation and transfers have taken their toll. Yarmouth could be a dark horse.
The Yarmouth/Freeport co-op girls' team has stolen early headlines and hopes to be the team to unseat Greely. Falmouth will be a playoff team as well.
Swimming has produced positive glimpses and skiing and track are about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2014 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!