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Portland Bulldogs Winter Athletes of the Year

Sports

Portland Bulldogs Winter Athletes of the Year

Ed. Note: This story will appear in the April 9 edition of The Forecaster.

Male:

BEN ALLEN, Senior-Nordic skiing

  • NENSA qualifier

  • Captain

Allen consistently excelled during his high school years and capped his time as a Bulldog with another strong postseason performance.

Allen started cross-country skiing in third grade and gradually became very good at his craft, being well known for his training regimen. As a freshman, he was 17th in the freestyle and 22nd in the classic at the Class A state meet. The next year, Allen moved up to third in the classic and seventh in the freestyle and a junior, he was second in the freestyle, seventh in the classic and even better, was second at the Eastern High School championships.

After capping his cross country running career in the fall, this winter, as a captain, Allen bowed out in style on the trails, finishing runner-up in the classic and third in the freestyle, helping Portland place fourth as a team.

Illness prevented Allen from repeating his success at the Eastern High School championships, but all in all, it was a strong campaign.

I have mixed emotions, but I'm happy with the high school season,” Allen said.

Allen, who played three years of lacrosse, but plans to play ultimate frisbee this spring, plans to take a post-graduate year to train with the Maine Winter Sports Center, then hopes to ski in college (he's been accepted to Montana State University).

For four years, a small Nordic ski program was graced by one of the state's finest talents. Ben Allen, Portland's Winter Male Athlete of the Year, set the bar for greatness and isn't finished yet.

Coach Aaron Duphily’s comment: “Ben has been a mainstay of our team for the last four years. In his time with us, he's worked diligently to hone his technique and to develop his fitness and we've seen that pay off with impressive results. He developed a great passion for skiing along with a strong work ethic, which is absolutely necessary to achieve success. He has a great amount of natural athletic ability, but it's the hours of running, rollerskiing and strength training that he's done on his own that have gotten him where he is. The mantra in endurance sports is that you can't build aerobic fitness overnight. He's committed to Nordic ski racing.”

Previous winner:

2012-13: Kidayer Aljubyly (Wrestling)

2011-12: Ben Allen (Nordic skiing)

2010-11: Mike Herrick (Basketball)

2009-10: Imadhi Zagon (Track)

2008-09: Sam Guimond (Hockey)

2007-08: Imadhi Zagon (Track)

2006-07: Ryan Carmichael (Basketball)

2005-06: Andrew Duncanson (Basketball)

2004-05: Connor Cushman (Nordic skiing)

2003-04: Eric Shone (Basketball)

Female:

BRIANNA HOLDREN, Senior-Basketball

  • SMAA all-star, third-team

  • SMAA Senior All-Star

  • Team captain

Heading into the season, Holdren argued that the long downtrodden Bulldogs were not only going to be competitive, but would be very good and she wasn't shy about letting people know.

Then, behind inspired and tenacious play, she went out and backed up her words, leading Portland to its best season in a decade.

Holdren grew up in Portland, started playing basketball in third grade and never looked back. While her game consistently improved, she didn't experience much triumph, as the Bulldogs won a total of 13 games and didn't make the playoffs in her first three seasons.

My how things changed this winter.

Portland shot to an 11-1 start and while several Bulldogs played key roles, it was Holdren's will and spirit that was most obvious. Portland wound up posting a winning record for the first time since 2004-05, won a playoff game for the first time since that aforementioned year (47-42 over Gorham in the Western A quarterfinals, as Holdren had a dozen points) and reached the semifinals for the first time in a decade before losing to eventual champion McAuley (despite a team-high 18 points from Holdren).

Holdren was 14th in the league in scoring with 11.6 points per game and placed ninth in 3-point shooting.

I was pleasantly surprised with the season,” Holdren said. “We had great team chemistry and communicated well. It was very exciting.”

Holdren also plays AAU for MBNation and the Portland Yellowjackets, is the shortstop on the softball team, was a member of Portland High's Executive Board as a freshman and sophomore and volunteers at the Boys' and Girls' Club. She will attend and play basketball at St. Joseph's College, where she plans to study nursing.

The Bulldogs program has had no share of special players over the years and it's fair to say that Brianna Holdren, Portland's Winter Female Athlete of the Year, belongs among the most impactful.

Coach Jan Veinot's comment: “Brianna has grown so much over the past four years. She's very dedicated to the school and to the game of basketball. She's a Bulldog through and through. She was the heart and soul of our team. She never missed a practice or a game. She led the team on the court and off. If we needed her to play inside, she did. If we needed 3-pointers, she took them. If I needed her to drive and get to the foul line, she did. She's versatile. She's also a kind and wonderful young woman.”

Previous winners:

2012-13: Abby Popenoe (Nordic skiing)

2011-12: Kylie Dalbec (Hockey)

2010-11: Nicollette Kapothanasis (Basketball)

2009-10; Raechel Allen (Hockey)

2008-09: Nyachuol Biliew (Basketball)

2007-08: Nyachuol Biliew (Basketball)

2006-07: Alex Perdomo (Hockey)

2005-06: Regina Roberts (Track)

2004-05: Ashley Anderson (Basketball)

2003-04: Ashley Brownlee (Basketball)

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