The 2009-10 Midcoast high school sports seasons saw hundreds of extremely talented student-athletes, dozens and dozens of conference all stars and also a handful of state championships for a few schools and individuals.

Now, the question becomes: who will be this year’s VillageSoup Midcoast schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year?

The Courier-Gazette, the former Rockland-based tri-weekly newspaper, honored local student-athletes the past 17 years by selecting that area’s most prolific athletes with the yearly notoriety. Last year, The Herald-Gazette continued that tradition for the 18th year by again selecting the area’s athletes of the year.

Now with VillageSoup’s weekly sports section encompassing Knox, Waldo and parts of Lincoln counties, the media company will continue the tradition for the 19th year while expanding the search for the Midcoast’s top high school athletes to include those from Waldo County.

Only student-athletes from Belfast Area High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Medomak Valley High School, Searsport District High School, Rockland District High School, Mount View High School, Georges Valley High School, Islesboro Central School, Vinalhaven School and North Haven Community School are eligible for consideration for the award.

The 2009-10 schoolboy athlete-of-the-year nominees are: Camden Hills’ Collin Downs and Cameron Gartley; Medomak Valley’s Steven Genthner; Belfast’s Jack Davis; and Vinalhaven’s Nathan Hopkins.

The 2009-10 schoolgirl athlete-of-the-year nominees are: Georges Valley’s Kennadi Grover; Camden Hills’ Lianne McCluskey; Mount View’s Hayleigh Kein; and Searsport’s Sara Bradshaw and Olivia Quigley.

Narrowing the field to only 10 student-athletes proved to be a particularly difficult process this season, especially given the fact that VillageSoup’s search for the Midcoast’s top schoolboy and schoolgirl athlete of the year expanded to four more high schools and another geographically large county. All 10 honorees proved to be — by many measures — the best of the best in their respective sports and were consistently strong in all the sports they participated in.

As is the case with any list where one is determining a sport’s top player, the process is subjective. However, unlike Villagesoup’s seasonal sports notable stories where coaches input is weighted heavily on the decision-making process, VillageSoup Sports Director Ken Waltz and Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell ultimately make the nominations and decide the schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year.

Athletes who excelled in three different sports, particularly those who were sports notables, receive more consideration given the fact their overall ability in a variety of sports makes the case for them being a more well-rounded “athletes.” Two-sport athletes are also 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.

Stories on VillageSoup’s schoolgirl and schoolboy athletes of the year will appear in the Aug. 25 edition.

The 2009-10 athlete-of-the-year nominees, with a brief recap of their accomplishments during the school year, follows. The athletes are listed in alphabetical order.

Schoolgirl nominees

Bradshaw, a senior, was a four-sport athlete this year for Searsport, participating in soccer this past fall, basketball in the winter and was a member of both the softball and track-and-field teams this spring.

In the fall on the soccer team, Bradshaw had an unprecedented season on the pitch as the top offensive threat for the Vikings. The senior exploded for a remarkable 33 goals, by far the most by any player in Class C and was the second highest total among female athletes in the state, regardless of class. She also contributed to the team with seven assists, and was a Penobscot Valley Conference first-team all star.

On the track-and-field team, Bradshaw finished second overall in the state Class C championships in the javelin. She tossed a distance of 100 feet, four inches. She also displayed her strength in the PVC Small School Championships, bringing home the conference championship in the same event with a throw of 96 feet, 11 inches. She also participated in the discus and was first-team all-conference.

On the softball diamond, Bradshaw played shortstop and was second on the team in batting average (.400), led the team in walks and had an on-base percentage of .591.

Grover, a freshman, broke onto the sports scene in a big way this season for Georges Valley, thriving on the soccer field, the basketball court and the softball diamond.

On the soccer team, Grover jumped right in and assumed the role as goalkeeper for the Buccaneers and led Georges Valley all the way to its first state Class C title. She had 10 regular-season shutouts in net, including nine in a row midway through the season. Three of the four games throughout the playoffs were shutouts, including the Bucs’ 1-0 win over Orono in the state final. Grover also stoned a penalty kick to help preserve the state win. She was also an MVC first-team all star.

Grover also shined on the basketball court for the Bucs, amassing 279 points through 18 regular-season games. She also pulled down 129 rebounds, dished out 40 assists, made 38 steals and blocked 21 shots. She also shot 33 percent from beyond the 3-point line and is capable of playing all five positions.

On the softball team in the spring, Grover hit an astounding .619 at the plate, while belting seven home runs, collecting 30 RBIs, had a slugging percentage of 1.452 and an on-base percentage of .729. She played seven of the nine positions on the field for the Bucs this season and was a first-team all star and was the team’s most versatile player.

Kein, a junior, has been one of Mount View’s most consistent female athletes over the past two seasons and continued that trend in 2009-10, playing field hockey, basketball and track and field.

Kein was an all-state field hockey player as a midfielder, helping the Mustangs to one of the top records in Eastern Class B. Also a flyer on penalty corners, Kein logged seven assists on the field in the fall and again figures to be a mainstay on this year’s team as a senior. She was also a KVAC first-team all star.

The junior also proved to be nearly unstoppable during the winter on the hardwood for the ‘Stangs, as she poured in 287 points competing in the always competitive KVAC, accounting for nearly one third of her team’s points all season. She also pulled down 8.1 rebounds per game, 4.4 steals per contest and shot 68 percent from the foul line. She was a KVAC honorable mention.

This spring in track and field, Kein proved to be the school’s top high jumper and nearly proved to be the best in the state, finishing second in the state Class B championships with a jump of five feet. She also clinched the conference title with a jump of the same height. She also thrived in the 100 meters, finishing fifth in the state (13.00) and fourth at the KVACs (13.61). Kein was a first-team all-conference selection.

McCluskey, a senior, was a sensational swimmer and runner this year for Camden Hills as she participated in cross-country in the fall, track and field in the spring and swimming in the winter.

McCluskey proved to be the top female runner this season for the Windjammers in cross country, as she finished 69th (21:50.3) at the Festival of Champions in Belfast, fifth (21:06.54) at the Camden Hills Invitational, 13th (22:10.6) at the KVAC championships and 16th (21:11) at the state Class B competition.

This winter, McCluskey blew away the rest of the field in the pool as she was crowned both the Class B swimmer of the year at the Class B state championships, but also the KVAC swimmer of the year at the conference championships. McCluskey brought home two state titles, finishing first overall in the 50 freestyle (24.81) and first in the prelims (24.70), while also taking first place in the 100 butterfly (59.79) after finishing first in the prelims (59.87) as well. She also finished first in the 50 freestyle (24.83) and the 100 fly (59.32) at the KVAC championships, while also taking first in both the 200 medley relay (2:00.14) and the 400 free relay (4:00.02). She capped her stellar high school swimming career with a trip to New Englands, where she finished second in the 50 free (24.65) and the 100 fly (1:00.97).

This spring also saw McCluskey bring home a state Class B title out of water, as she motored to a first-place finish in the 400 meters (59.79) and also took second place in the same event (1:00.69) in the conference championships. She was named first-team all-conference.

Quigley, a senior, was a tremendous athlete for Searsport this year, participating in soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.

Quigley was a second-team all star on the soccer pitch for the Vikings, amassing a whopping 17 goals and contributing 13 assists. Along with Bradshaw, the duo made a marvelous one-two punch for SDHS and helped lead the Vikings to the regional playoffs.

On the basketball court, Quigley was the heart and soul of the team as she not only helped the Vikings to a four-win season, but also helped her alma mater break a 57-game losing streak with a 14-point effort in a 30-25 win over Sumner of East Sullivan. Quigley averaged 12 points, led the Vikings in most statistical categories and was named a PVC honorable mention.

Quigley also was Searsport’s top player on the softball diamond this season and was the team’s starting pitcher, as she struck out 54 batters against only 12 walks. And despite dealing with injuries all season, she also led the team in batting average (.435), hits (20), RBIs (16) and was a PVC second-team all star.

Schoolboy nominees

Davis, a senior, was Belfast’s most consistent student-athlete all year and proved his athletic prowess on the soccer pitch, basketball court and baseball field.

In the fall, Davis, who could have been a sensational running back in football if he wanted to, was the soccer team’s top offensive star as he racked up 11 goals and also contributed eight assists through the course of the season. He also scored the lone goal for the Lions in the Eastern Class B playoffs against Mount Desert Island and had a game-winning goal in overtime at Point Lookout in Northport against Rockland during the regular season. He was Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B second-team all conference.

On the court, Davis was a guard and essentially took the reins of the offense as not only was he one of the team’s top offensive players, but could get teammates involved as well. Davis averaged 11.4 points this season and pulled down an average of 5.8 rebounds. He also averaged three assists and 2.5 steals. Coach Scott Benzie added that Davis “has the ability to dominate a game on any given night.” He was also named to the league’s all-academic team.

On the baseball diamond, Davis played shortstop for the Lions and earned a first team all-conference selection due to his defense in the field and his bat in the box. Davis led the team in seven major offensive categories hitting from of the No. 3 spot, batting .420 and knocking in 15 runs and had 21 hits (home run, 3 triples, 4 doubles, 13 singles) along with five stolen bases.

Downs, a senior, was a two-sport athlete this season for Camden Hills, as he was an integral member of both the football season in the fall and the track-and-field season in the spring.

On the gridiron, Downs served as the primary signal-caller for the Windjammers and thrived in that role both with his arm and feet. Downs accumulated more than 1,500 yards of offense this season, completing 75-of-119 passes for 720 yards and two touchdowns. Downs also had 662 yards on the ground on 74 carries (nine yards per rush) and eight touchdowns. He was also the team’s top kick returner, taking back one kickoff for a touchdown and racking up 294 yards on 12 kicks all season. Downs was also injured in the first game of the season against Nokomis of Newport and missed a few games, while still managing to put up impressive numbers.

This spring in track and field, he finished third in both the state Class B championships 100 meters (11.34) and the 200 meters (23.06), while winning the conference championship in the 200 meters (22.72) and placing second in the 100 meters (11.42). Downs was first-team all-conference for his efforts.

Gartley, a senior, was a consistent three-sport athlete for Camden Hills this past year and thrived on the Windjammer football, basketball and baseball teams.

In the fall on the gridiron, Gartley was a wide receiver for the Windjammers and proved to be their most consistent threat through the air, pulling in 30 catches for 414 yards and three scores, ranking third in Class B in both receptions and yards. He was named Class B all-conference and also thrived as a punter, kick returner, punt returner and safety.

On the basketball court, Gartley started for the majority of the year but missed a handful of games midseason due to a broken wrist. Through the state Class B final he played in 17 games, amassing 100 points, 30 assists, 30 rebounds and 20 steals. He had a game-high 14 points against Leavitt of Turner.

On the baseball diamond, Gartley proved to be one of the Windjammers’ top bats in the No. 3 hole, batting .339 on the season with 19 hits (triple, double), 12 RBIs and scored 16 runs. On the mound he sported a 4.09 earned run average and allowed 29 hits and 12 walks, while fanning 24 batters. He also tossed two complete games.

Genthner, a senior, thrived in his final year at Medomak Valley as he was a three-sport athlete taking part in soccer, wrestling and baseball.

On the pitch, Genthner was a fullback and one of the team’s top defensive threats. He was aggressive on the field battling for 50-50 balls, could turn the field quickly and thrived at keeping the ball out of the defensive end.

On the wrestling mat, Genthner was one of Class B’s top grapplers and proved it wrestling in the 145-pound weight class. Genthner had an individual record of 31-3 this season and also brought home both the KVAC and Eastern Class B championships in that weight class. He also not only broke the 100-win mark for his four-year varsity career, but also broke the school record for victories with his 109th win. He was a KVAC first-team all-conference selection.

On the baseball field, Genthner was Medomak Valley’s backstops and was one of the best catchers in the conference. Despite breaking his wrist during a midseason game against Maranacook of Readfield, Genthner missed only a few games and continued to play in a cast and served as the team’s designated hitter for a spell and still racked up lofty numbers. He batted .444 on the season along with two home runs, three triples and three doubles, knocked in 12 runs and scored 17 runs. He was a second-team all-conference selection.

Hopkins, a senior, was Vinalhaven’s top student-athlete this year and proved that fact with his consistent play on the soccer, basketball and baseball teams. His dominance in all three sports also won him player-of-the-year honors in the East-West Conference.

Hopkins was Vinalhaven’s goalie in the fall and had three shutouts in net during the regular season, and one more in their first-round playoff game. He also participated in the 15th annual senior bowl with the top soccer players throughout the state.

On the court, Hopkins played center and was Vinalhaven’s interior presence both on offense and defense. He averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds this season for the Vikings along with three assists, and helped the islanders sail to the Western Class D final.

Baseball was by far Hopkins’ best season as he batted an astounding .589 at the dish, including five home runs. He also knocked in 20 runs and scored 12.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.