Who will be Courier Publications' athletes of the year?Talent students prove well-rounded in many different sports
Rockland — As is typically the case, there was a bevy of talented high school student-athletes throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln counties during the 2013-14 sports seasons on the field, the court, the mat, the track, the ice, the trail, the course or in the pool.
Now with the 2013-14 school year in the rear view mirror, the question becomes: Who will be Courier Publications' schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year?
A strong, lengthy list of potential candidates was whittled to five male and five femals finalists by Courier Publications' Sports Director Ken Waltz and Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell.
Courier Publications publishes three weekly newspapers, The Courier-Gazette, based in Rockland, The Camden Herald, based in Camden, and The Republican Journal, based in Belfast. The company also has two websites: knox.villagesoup.com and waldo.villagesoup.com.
Students from Oceanside High School of Rockland/Thomaston, Camden Hills Regional High School of Rockport, Mount View High School of Thorndike, Belfast Area High School, Medomak Valley High School of Waldoboro, Vinalhaven School, North Haven Community School, Searsport District High School and Islesboro Central School are eligible for athlete-of-year honors.
The 10 semifinalists include student-athletes from schools in Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln counties.
The 2013-14 schoolgirl athlete-of-the-year finalists are: Camden Hills' Rachel Pease (soccer, basketball and outdoor track and field), Oceanside's Brooke Dugan (field hockey, basketball and softball), Belfast's Ashley Littlefield (soccer, football, basketball and softball), Searsport's Alicen Brooks (soccer, basketball, softball and outdoor track and field) and Vinalhaven's Ashley Hamilton (soccer, basketball and softball).
The group of five finalists was whittled down from a group of 10 semifinalists, who included Camden Hills' Brittany Bowman (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and field), Charlotte Messer (soccer, basketball and softball) and Emma Gutheinz (soccer and swimming), Medomak Valley's Hannah Marks (soccer, basketball and softball) and Belfast's Cassidy Hill (soccer, indoor track and outdoor track and field).
The top male and female athletes will announced at a later date.
The 2013-14 schoolboy athlete-of-the-year finalists are: Oceanside's Nick Mazurek (soccer, basketball and baseball) and Nick Judge (soccer, basketball and baseball); and Camden Hills' Connor Graffam (football, basketball and baseball), Chandler Crans (basketball and baseball) and Jack Orne (golf, ice hockey and lacrosse).
The group of five finalists was whittled down from a group of 10 semifinalists, which included Belfast's Drew Nealey (football, indoor track and outdoor track and field), Medomak Valley's Micah Williamson (soccer, basketball and baseball) and Camden Hills' Connor Winchenbach (soccer, wrestling and lacrosse), Grayson Szumilas (soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse) and Ben Trapani (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and field).
There were dozens of other student-athletes who were considered for the top 10, but, ultimately, did not make the final lists.
As is the case with any list where one is determining a top all-around athlete for a full year, the process is subjective. However, the final decision lies with the Courier Publications' sports staff on the schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year.
Athletes who excelled in three different sports, particularly who were given all-conference awards, receive more consideration given the fact their overall ability in a variety of sports makes the case for them being more well-rounded "athletes."
Two-sport athletes also are given consideration and, in rare cases, single-sport athletes, since one could argue that the athlete who focuses solely on perfection in one sport and outshines the competition in that sport should not be excluded.
The 2013-14 athlete-of-the-year nominees, with a brief recap of notable accomplishments during the school year, follows, with athletes listed in alphabetical order:
Brooks, a senior for Searsport, played four sports, including soccer, basketball, softball and outdoor track and field. Brooks was the goalie on the pitch for the Vikings and logged five shutouts in net as she helped lead Searsport to the Western Class D semifinals. She averaged 6.7 points for a Viking basketball team that also earned a semifinal playoff berth, while she also was an integral part of the school's softball team (played catcher, outfield and infield) that reached the semifinals after the team had won only one game in several years. She also excelled in the javelin for the track team as she finished sixth (99-1) at the state Class C championships and third (100-8) in the event at the Penobscot Valley Conference small school track championships. She earned second-team all-conference in track.
Dugan, a senior for Oceanside, played field hockey, basketball and softball for the Mariners and proved to be the school's most all-around dominant female student-athlete. As a defensive midfielder in field hockey, Dugan was a team leader and had three goals and two assists, along with two defensive saves. On the hardwood she also was a top-tier talent as one of the team's most balanced players as she could score and play defense, averaging 6.9 points. However, it was on the softball diamond where Dugan did her best work as she flashed an impressive glove and wielded an even more impressive bat, which earned her Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year honors. On the diamond, Dugan batted .596 with 34 hits, eight home runs, 30 RBIs, 25 runs, a .646 on-base percentage and a whopping 1.228 slugging percentage.
Hamilton, a senior for Vinalhaven, was a three-sport athlete for the Vikings and was the best all-around player in Class D's East-West conference as she was named the conference's athlete of the year. On the hardwood, Hamilton led the Vikings in scoring and ended her high school career with 915 points, while she was also an integral part of both the school's softball and soccer teams.
Littlefield, a senior for Belfast, was a rare four-sport athlete for the Lions as her fall proved a busy one as a member of both the soccer and football teams. She was second team all-conference on the pitch, while on the gridiron, as the team's place kicker, she was second in the Big Ten Conference in extra points as she went 20-of-25. She was second in the conference in that category behind Winslow's Dylan Hapworth. Littlefield was an integral part of the basketball team as she averaged about eight points, while on the diamond, she shone in the middle as the starting pitcher. She struck out 130 batters in 110 innings in the regular season and batted .301, to earn second-team all-conference honors.
Pease, a junior for Camden Hills, played big in big spots for the Windjammers in soccer, basketball and outdoor track and field. As the team's goalie in soccer, Pease helped preserve many shutout victories in net for the highly-touted Windjammers, who nabbed the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Class B playoffs. On the hardwood, Pease's height and ability forced several opposing coaches to game plan for her specifically as she averaged 10 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shot and three steals as she earned second-team all-conference honors and was named to the all-defensive squad. In outdoor track, Pease had several strong performances in various events, such as the 100, 200 and 400 meters, along with relay races. However, she often made her mark in the high jump as she finished second at both the KVAC and state Class B competitions in that event with a hight of five feet.
Crans, a senior for Camden Hills, excelled in two sports for the Windjammers as he earned second-team all-conference honors in basketball and first-team all-conference honors for baseball. On the hardwood, Crans averaged 16 points for the Windjammers and connected on 38 3-point attempts. He also shot 73 percent from the foul line and averaged four rebounds and 1.5 assists. On the diamond, Crans, a third baseman, batted .281 with 16 hits, 11 runs and eight RBIs. On the hill, Crans sported a 5-1 record and a 1.05 earned run average as he allowed 21 hits and 18 walks, with 34 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched.
Graffam, a senior for Camden Hills, made a difference on the gridiron, the hardwood and the diamond and proved to be one of the Midcoast's top-tier players. On the gridiron, Graffam earned second-team all-conference honors at tight end and punter and he was the squad's offensive most valuable player, said coach Steve Wadsworth. On the court, Graffam was an interior presence for the 'Jammers and averaged 6.8 points, along with 8.6 rebounds. It was on the diamond where Graffam's star really shone as he nabbed first-team all-conference honors. As a pitcher, Graffam had a 1.39 earned run average and allowed 21 hits and 10 walks, while fanning 49 batters. He also had a no-hitter against Maranacook of Readfield. He also batted .480, with 24 hits (3 home runs), 19 RBIs, 15 runs scored, a .544 on-base percentage and a .820 slugging percentage.
Judge, a senior for Oceanside, was nothing short of terrific from September to June for the Mariners on the pitch, court and diamond. On the soccer field, Judge nabbed first-team all-conference honors as he was one of the Mariner's top offensive players with six goals and seven assists, while on the hardwood, Judge was a dynamic guard and averaged roughly 15 points as one of the key cogs on a team that won both the KVAC Class B title and earned the top overall seed in the playoffs. On the diamond, Judge was the team's leadoff hitter and shortstop as he batted .267, with 12 hits, 15 runs, 11 stolen bases, six RBIs and a .400 on-base percentage.
Mazurek, a sophomore for Oceanside, had a dynamic year for the Mariners whether it was on the links, the court or the diamond. In the fall, Mazurek was the golf team's top performer as he showed poise for his age throughout the season, which ended with him shooting a 76 in the state Class A individual schoolboy championships to finish second overall and qualified for the New England championships. On the court, Mazurek averaged about seven points, but came up big for Oceanside in big games and “did all the little things for us,” said coach Matt Breen.
Perhaps his most impressive work came on the diamond, where he was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year. Mazurek batted .489, with 23 hits, five home runs, 24 RBIs, 18 runs, a .576 on-base percentage and an .851 slugging percentage. He struck out three times in 47 at bats (59 overall plate appearances) and walked a team-high 10 times. As a pitcher, Mazurek finished with a 6-1 record and a save. In 44 1/3 innings on the hill, he had a 1.26 earned run average, allowed 25 hits, 15 runs, 8 earned runs, struck out 55 and walked 14 (nearly a 4 to 1 ratio). Opponents batted .152 against him. The hard-throwing right-hander had five complete games, two shutouts and a no-hitter.
Orne, a senior for Camden Hills, was a three-sport athlete for the Windjammers as he was an integral part of the success of both the ice hockey and lacrosse teams. Orne was a reserve player on the state Class B championship golf team, but Orne's bread and butter was on the hockey rink as the dynamic forward nabbed the Class B West player of the year. He logged 30 goals on the season and 25 assists as he helped lead the Windjammers to a Western Class B semifinal berth and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship. In lacrosse, Orne earned second-team all-conference honors as he had 22 goals and 10 assists, which helped lead the Windjammers to their first semifinal playoff berth in program history.
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.
Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.
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