Spring Athletes of the Year: North Yarmouth Academy Panthers
2009 Spring Male Athlete of the Year:
SAM FEAR, Senior-Track
* Class C state champion, high jump
* Class C state champion, javelin
* WMC All-Conference, first team
Despite its low numbers, the North Yarmouth Academy boys' track program simply wins spring after spring after spring.
While the Panthers don't have the quantity, the quality of their athletes is staggering, a point reinforced once again this season.
While distance standout Henry Sterling got his due in the fall and winter, it's Sam Fear's turn. Fear's devotion to being a premier field athlete paid off in a big way as he personally scored 34 of NYA's 81 points June 6 as the Panthers won their fourth successive Class C state championship.
NYA wound up winning by just 1.5 points, so every one of Fear's mattered. He came in first in the high jump and javelin, was runner-up in the shot put and even placed third in what had been his Achilles' heel, the discus.
For handling so many events with aplomb, for coming up huge when the situation dictated and for being the epitome of a champion throughout his high school career, Sam Fear gets The Forecaster's nod as North Yarmouth Academy's 2009 Spring Male Athlete of the Year.
Fear lives in Bath. He started at NYA in the seventh grade which is when he began track, running, not jumping or throwing. The next year, he tried the high jump and was leaping 5 feet, 6 inches by year's end. Despite having a self-described scrawny build, Fear threw the shot put and javelin, in addition to jumping, and after a growth spurt, became a threat in all three events.
Fear, who also played a year of volleyball and ran cross-country for two seasons, came in third in both the high jump and javelin at the state meet as a sophomore, moved up to second in the javelin and shot put and third in the high jump as a junior, then dominated this season.
At the Western Maine Conference meet, Fear won the javelin, was second in the high jump and shot put and placed sixth in the discus. Entering states, Fear expected to be second or third in the high jump and third in the shot put, but in what he called an emotional experience, wound up winning the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches), the javelin (with a personal best 172-8), finished runner-up in the shot put (45-3) and placed third in the discus (123-3).
Fear plans to compete in the decathlon at Wheaton College. He just competed in his first decathlon at the Junior Olympics regionals and placed second. He set a new personal best in the shot put and qualified for nationals, but doesn't plan to attend.
Fear, who is also very talented in art and music, wants to be a track coach someday. He plans to study something related to art or design in college.
He certainly made throwing and jumping into an art form this year. Sam Fear, NYA's 2009 Spring Male Athlete of the Year, left a legacy that will long be hailed.
Coach Chris Mazzurco's comment: "Sam is an exceptionally driven kid. He's so strong in all of his events. He was a big part of our team. As integral as you can possibly imagine. He had a huge challenge with four events and rose to that significant challenge. He knew he had to come in first in the high jump and javelin for us to have a chance at states and he rose to that kind of pressure. He's quick, strong and can jump."
2008 winner: Henry Gleason (Lacrosse)
2007 winner: Than Wellin (Lacrosse)
2006 winner: Michael Moody (Track)
2005 winner: Peter Gerrity (Lacrosse)
2004 winner: Brian Chin (Track)
2003 winner: Matt Curran (Baseball)
2002 winner: Matt Fortin (Track)
2009 Spring Female Athlete of the Year:
THU-TRANG HO, Junior-Tennis
* WMC All-Conference, first team
Playing first singles for the North Yarmouth Academy girls' tennis team means that all eyes are on you.
Not only are the Panthers always in contention for a state title, but their schedule means that the lead singles player has to go up against some of the finest players around and rarely gets an easy match.
Luckily for NYA, it has a player who has no trouble rising to the challenge.
Tru-Trang Ho emerged as a special player as a freshman, moved up to the first singles spot as a sophomore and this past season, came through time and time again as the Panthers made it three straight Class C state championships.
Ho is technically strong, clutch, leads by example and kept the Panthers at the top with her skill. In light of that, Thu-Trang Ho is The Forecaster's choice for NYA's 2009 Spring Female Athlete of the Year.
Ho grew up and lives in South Portland. She started playing tennis at the age of six and was quite adept by the time she came to NYA her freshman year. This season simply continued what has been a memorable run in her high school career.
Ho only lost three matches in the regular season, one to Fryeburg and one each to Falmouth standout Annie Criscione and Waynflete star Christine Ordway. Ho reached the Round of 16 in the state singles tournament before being ousted.
In the playoffs, as the Panthers marched to another crown, Ho lost just seven games and no sets in four matches.
Ho also plays soccer and competes in the 200, hurdles, long and triple jumps in indoor track. She belongs to the NYA Environmental Club and volunteers. She teaches at a tennis camp and will play in some tournaments this summer.
Ho is looking at small liberal arts schools. She wants to study economics or international relations and may play tennis at the next level.
First, she has a chance to go 4-for-4 in championships with her high school tennis team. Thu-Trang Ho, NYA's 2009 Spring Female Athlete of the Year, has a chance to cap her career just the way she began it: triumphantly.
Coach Lorena Coffin's comment: "When Thu-Trang joined the team three years ago, she became the sparkplug that ignited us and raised everyone's level of play, including her own. She continues to be a leader and mentor. She is encouraging and helpful to her teammates. She's self-confident, continually strives to improve and is open to tweaking one of her great shots or trying a new strategy."
2008 winner; Kayte Demont (Track)
2007 winner: Erin Lachance (Lacrosse)
2006 winner: Meghan Meintel (Lacrosse)
2005 winner: Molly Moss (Lacrosse)
2004 winner: Kristen Lothes (Tennis)
2003 winner: Jenny Kendall (Tennis)
2002 winner: Emma Harper (Track)