Swim wins opener under new head coach Morgan Rublee
When Morgan Rublee took over head coaching duties of the swim team in mid November, she anticipated that Avery Carroll, Jenna Clukey, and Gabbie Johnson would be key returners who would dictate the success of the swim season.
She could not have been more right as the trio of Carroll, Clukey, and Johnson combined for five victories and six state-qualifying performances to lead the girls team to victory in Rublee’s first meet as head coach.
What Coach Rublee did not expect were the stellar contributions of first year swimmers and senior boarding students Elena and Alice Russo of Italy. Elena placed second and qualified for states in the 100-yard backstroke, and Alice was only a fraction of a second off of the state qualifying time in the 50-yard freestyle.
Freshman Abby Henderson, who won the 50-yard freestyle, and Chloe Waugh, who was less than a second from qualifying in the 500-yard freestyle, also had outstanding races for the Ponies.
Leading the boys team was the foursome of Tanner Strout, David Salley, Jeri Zhang, and Andy Yu, who placed second in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“We have some incredibly dedicated returning swimmers, and several new members of the team who have great potential,” said Coach Rublee. “We had a fun first meet, and I’m excited to see how much we improve this Friday against Old Town!”
The Friday meet in Old Town begins at 6 pm.
Wrestling returns 7 state placers, eyes state’s top prize
The wrestling team lost great leadership to graduation in June but returns seven state placers–Brandon Weston, Tino Ayala, Conner Johnson, Billy Brock, Brandon Brock, Michael Pendriss, and Connor Holmes–from last year’s third-place team as they look to continue the excellent tradition of Foxcoft Wrestling this season.
Add Zachary Caron, a two time Class C state champion, who transferred to Foxcroft Academy during the summer, to the mix, and Coach Ayala’s team has the pieces necessary to make a run at another state wrestling title.
“High expectations are nothing new for FA wrestling,” said coach Ayala. “This year is no different as they have high expectations for themselves every time they step on the mat. The names might change, but the goals and hard work will always be a part of FA wrestling.”
The Ponies will use competitive state-wide tournaments–like the McDonald’s Tournament at Mt. Valley, the Warrior Clash Tournament at Nokomis, the Noble Christmas Tournament, and the Spartan Tournament at Sanford–throughout the season to gain experience and confidence for the state championship in February.
The FA wrestling team began the season by traveling to Coach Ayala’s alma mater in Virginia for the Sterling Lion Terry McGowan Wrestling Tournament. Wrestling Manager Gabby Jolin travelled with the team and documented the trip. Her photo recap is coming soon.
Indoor track builds base for future success
The indoor track team has entered its second season under the dual leadership of Rob Weber and Graham Pearsall. The duo has coached the outdoor track team to three PVC runners-up trophies over the past two years and will look to make a run at the podium indoors.
“The early season priority has been recruitment and development of younger talent,” said Coach Weber, who with Coach Pearsall has emphasized building a training base during the first weeks of practice.
Of FA’s veteran runners, senior captain Cooper Nelson is the most decorated, returning for his final season after placing second in the mile at states last year. Cooper, who is a lethal mix of speed and endurance, will look to make an impact in events ranging from the 400-meter dash to the 2-mile run.
Gabe Piquette also looks poised to make an impact after his outstanding cross country season that saw him ascend the ranks of Northern Maine distance running, earning First Team All-PVC honors this fall.
Erika Chadbourne, Jason Eubanks, Paul Birtwistle, and Desirae Brawn also return with a lot of experience, and newcomers Tobias Hogfeldt, Chandler Rockwell, and Nate Church promise to make an immediate impact in their first season of track.
“The track team is a great mix of experienced and new talent,” said Coach Pearsall. “It’s great to see this year’s new track athletes seamlessly integrating into the team.”
“There’s still time to see if track might be for you,” added Coach Weber, who highlighted the track team’s ability to build stronger athletes for other sports and take on athletes of any skill level.
The first indoor track meet is December 19, at the UMaine field house.
Boys basketball’s depth an asset as they enter post-Carey era under new head coach
The 2014-15 basketball season was Coach Dave Carey’s last for the Foxcroft Academy Ponies. After 17 years of coaching at FA, Carey, whose consistent production and levelheadedness earned the reverence of the community and league, retired a well respected coach.
His presence on the sideline will be missed, but Foxcroft Academy believes they have found a coach to lead them in the next stage of FA basketball.
Inheriting the reigns is Tyler Erickson, a 2004 graduate of PCHS with more than four years of coaching experience. Coach Erickson, who played college basketball and led Greenville High School to four consecutive Western D playoff basketball berths as coach, inherits a plethora of skilled players, including reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year Hunter Smith, savvy point guard Dylan Harmon-Weeks, sharp shooter Drew Dankert, and impactful transfers Noah Allen from Milo and Nick Fortier from Guilford.
The Ponies’ season began Saturday at home against the Ellsworth Eagles. The Ponies were edged 63-57 in the season opener, but they will look to bounce back Wednesday at home against John Bapst at 7 and Saturday at home against Caribou at 4:30.
“Our goal is simple,” said Coach Erickson. “We want to get better as a team every day.”
As with every sport, betterment begins at practice, and Coach Erickson is very excited about the many skilled players he has on his team. “Our depth gives us the ability to create a competitive atmosphere in practice,” said Erickson. Look for the Ponies to improve throughout the year as the team clicks under the new system and players recover from injuries sustained during the basketball preseason and football campaigns.
Girls basketball returns 6 of 7 top scorers
Coach Blake Smith’s girls basketball team, which earned a postseason berth last season and returns six of its top seven scorers, has high expectations for the 2015-16 season.
The Ponies return a balanced squad that features Abby Simpson and returning Second Team Big East selection Madison Chadbourne in the paint, speedy guards Abbi and Alli Bourget on the perimeter, as well as fearless ball handler Grace Bickford and shutdown defender Kendra Ewer.
In their first game of the regular season, eight Ponies contributed points in a versatile offense, but FA ultimately lost 53-39 to the Ellsworth Eagles in a contest that was tied at half and close throughout.
The Ponies returned to the hardwood Tuesday for a game against John Bapst with a similarly balanced offense led by Chadbourne, who had 16 points. The Ponies lost 62-47 and will look to bounce back as they host Caribou Saturday at 1:30.
Click here to see some of Camille Bozzelli’s outstanding photos of the Ellsworth game and here to see more of Perry Wang’s great photos of the John Bapst game.
Cheering takes aim at state competition
For the upperclassman on the cheering squad, this may be the year to finally qualify for the state cheering competition at the Cross Center in February. Over the past three years they have worked hard to add tumbling and additional routines to their repertoire, improving their place at the regional competition each year and placing just one spot out of states last season. Coach Shari Sage is impressed by the team’s added commitment this year, and credits Kim Hanson whose “love for cheering shines through her leadership skills.”
While at home basketball games this winter, look to the sidelines for the cheerleaders as they support the Ponies and to the halftime entertainment as the team practices the routine they will perform at the state-qualifying competition in January.
“Over the last few seasons we’ve been pushing for a chance at the state cheering competition,” said Coach Sage. “This could be our year!”