Individual state championships were hoisted high for all to see. Several teams won regional titles and made deep runs in its respective postseasons. Many others collected top-notch individual awards from various conferences and organizations. In short, student-athletes throughout the Midcoast, as they typically do, excelled both on the local and state levels.

Now, the question becomes: Who was the best of the best among them?

The Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports department —  sports director Ken Waltz, associate sports director Mark Haskell and sports reporter Zack Miller — will attempt to answer that question as they begin their quest to sort out the 2017-18 Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolboy athlete of the year.

Courier Publications publishes three weekly newspapers, The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal in Belfast. The company also has two websites: knox.villagesoup.com and waldo.villagesoup.com.

A lengthy list of potential athlete-of-year candidates was whittled to 10 male semifinalists — and ultimately, five finalists — by Waltz, Haskell and Miller.

Students from Oceanside High School of Rockland, 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 2017-18 schoolboy athlete-of-the-year finalists are: Belfast’s Ricky Smith; Medomak Valley’s Eli Miller; Oceanside’s Titus Kaewthong and Mike Norton Jr.; and Searsport’s Charlie Spiegel.

The five finalists were whittled from 10 semifinalists, the other five of whom included: Belfast’s Grey Dinsmore; Camden Hills’ Noah Heidorn and Cooper Russell; Medomak Valley’s Brent Stewart; and Searsport’s Ben Powell.

There were many other student-athletes 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 athlete 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.

A story on the winner will appear in a future newspaper and on the company's websites.

The 2017-18 athlete-of-the-year finalists, with a brief recap of notable accomplishments during the school year, follows, with athletes listed in alphabetical order:

Finalists

Kaewthong, a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Oceanside as he played football, unified basketball and baseball for the Mariners. On the gridiron, Kaewthong was named to the Big Eleven Conference’s second team at punter, place kicker and defensive back. On defense, he made 38 tackles and four interceptions and was 22-of-25 in extra point attempts. As the team’s quarterback, he tossed for 568 yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for 202 yards. On the diamond, Kaewthong was named to the KVAC Class B first team as he batted .515 with 33 hits (8 doubles, triple, 4 home runs), 22 runs, 26 RBIs, 11 steals and a .859 slugging percentage. His 33 hits also broke a school record.

Miller, a junior, was a two-sport athlete for Medomak Valley as he played football and wrestled for the Panthers. On the football field, Miller was a Big Eleven Conference honorable mention. On defense, he was second on the team in tackles (47 solo and 30 assists) at outside linebacker. On offense, he wore many hats as he ran the ball and both caught and threw passes for the Panthers, scoring four touchdowns and adding a two-point conversion. He completed seven passes for 139 yards, caught three passes for 35 yards and rushed for 190 yards on 61 carries. On the mats, Miller was one of the top wrestlers in the state as he went 45-5 on the season (23 pins), while racking up individual KVAC, regional and state championships in the 152-pound weight class.

Norton Jr., a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Oceanside as he played football, basketball and baseball for the Mariners. On the gridiron, Norton was a dominant force on both sides of the ball as he was named to the Big 11 Conference’s first team at both running back and linebacker. On offense, he rushed for 1,869 yards, 242 receiving yards and ended the season with an astounding 30 touchdowns. On defense, he had 94 tackles and also amassed 12 sacks. On the hardwood, the 6-foot-2-inch guard/forward was a KVAC Class B first team all-conference selection as he averaged 19.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 3.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game and could change a game’s momentum at a moment’s notice with an emphatic block or a slam dunk. On the diamond, he batted .411 with 32 hits (all singles), 14 runs, five RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

Spiegel, a junior, was a three-sport athlete for Searsport and played soccer, basketball and baseball for the Vikings. On the pitch, Spiegel was a terrific defender and named to the Penobscot Valley Conference’s first team for his efforts in the backfield. On the hardwood, Spiegel was Searsport’s most consistent player as he averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, which earned him a PVC third team all-conference selection. But his best sport was on the diamond as he excelled both at the plate and on the mound before earning the PVC Class D co-player of the year award. On the hill, Spiegel sported a 4.04 ERA and allowed 36 runs (22 earned) and struck out 85 batters. At the plate, he batted .400 with 22 hits (8 doubles, 2 home runs), 27 RBIs, 19 runs scored and nine stolen bases.

Smith, a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Belfast and ran cross country, indoor track and outdoor track for the Lions. In cross-country, Smith nabbed a first team all-conference selection as he finished 10th overall (19:27.4) in the KVAC Class B race, shaved roughly 90 seconds off that time to finish 10th again (17:59.34) at the regional championship race and finished 36th (18:44.17) at the state Class B championships. In indoor track, Smith was again a first team all-conference selection and won KVAC Class B titles in the 55-meter and 800-meter dashes and finishes of third (800-meter), fifth (4×200 meter relay) and sixth (4×800 meter relay) at the state meet. In outdoor track he racked up another first team all-conference nod and finished third (4×8 relay), second (4×4 relay) and second (4×1 relay) at the KVAC’s and third (4×8 relay), fifth (4×4) and sixth (4×1) at the states.

Semifinalists

Dinsmore, a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Belfast as he played football, indoor track and baseball for the Lions. On the gridiron, he was a Big 11 conference honorable mention as he scored eight touchdowns (7 receiving and 1 rushing), racked up 24 catches for 270 yards and rushed for 98 yards on 35 carries. In indoor track, he was second team all-conference as he did the pole vault and throwing events. His best sport was baseball as, on the diamond, he sported a microscopic 1.34 earned run average on the mound over 62 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed 22 runs (12 earned) on 53 hits and 13 walks, with 52 strikeouts. At the plate, he batted .365 with 19 hits (3 doubles), six RBIs and eight runs scored.

Heidorn, a senior, was a two-sport athlete for Camden Hills as he played both basketball and tennis for the Windjammers. On the hardwood, Heidorn was a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A first team all-conference selection as the 6-foot-1-inch guard averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, along with shooting 71 percent from the foul line. He helped lead the Windjammers back to the playoffs for the first time in four years. On the tennis court, Heidorn spent the majority of his time at third singles, though he did dabble higher up the ladder at times at second and first singles as well. Heidorn sported a 13-1 record, with his only loss of the season coming in the state Class A tennis championship. The Windjammers went undefeated in the regular season and captured the KVAC Class A and regional tennis championships.

Powell, a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Searsport as he played soccer, basketball and baseball for the Vikings. As Searsport’s netminder on the soccer field, Powell earned a Penobscot Valley Conference first team selection as he gave up 33 goals in 16 games along with two shutouts, one of which was a shutout playoff victory over Vinalhaven. On the court, he averaged 6.7 points, six assists and “several” rebounds per game. On the diamond, he was a Penobscot Valley Conference first team selection as he batted .317 with 20 hits (double, home run), 28 RBIs, 25 runs and 15 stolen bases at the plate. On the mound, he allowed 25 runs (22 earned) on 52 hits, struck out 34 and sported a 3.34 earned run average in 47 innings of work.

Russell, a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Camden Hills as he was a mountain biker, swimmer and tennis player for the Windjammers. On the mountain, Russell was the team’s top racer as he nabbed a fourth-place finish (57:17.7) at the Northern New England championships and helped lead the Windjammers to their 19th straight state championship. In the pool, Russell was a first team all-conference selection, was part of the 4×200 freestyle relay team that won the KVAC title (1:33.15), was second in the 50 free (23.23) and 100 free (51.40) and part of the 400 freestyle relay team (3:27.36) that finished second. He also turned in one third-place and two fifth-place finishes in the state Class B meet.On the tennis court, Russell was a force to be reckoned with and was a KVAC second team all-conference selection. As the team’s number one singles player, he sported an 11-2 record and led the Windjammers to an undefeated regular season, a KVAC Class A championship and a regional crown. Russell also advanced to the Round of 16 in the MPA state singles tennis tournament.

Stewart, a senior, was a three-sport athlete for Medomak Valley as he played golf, basketball and baseball for the Panthers. On the links, Stewart was KVAC first team all-conference and went 7-4-1 on the season, shot a low of 39 for nine holes and medaled in three matches. He shot in 80 for 18 holes at state qualifier and later fired an 81 at the state Class B individual schoolboy championships. On the hardwood, the 5-8 guard averaged eight points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. He shot 82 percent from the foul line, canned 30 three-pointers and was a key cog in Medomak Valley’s run to the Class A North regional championship game. On the diamond, Stewart sported a 2.73 ERA on the mound, while batting .275 with 14 runs scored.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.