December 14, 2013

TRAVIS LAZARCZYK: Sportspeople of the Year

It’s the end of the year, and that makes it list time. We love lists. We love ranking people, places, things, events. If there’s more than one of something, we’ll rank ‘em.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll rank our top 10 sports stories of the year in the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal. Here, I’ll rank Maine’s Sportspeople of the Year. These people didn’t necessarily have the best year, but each made waves in some way.

10. Ryan Flaherty. A Deering High School graduate, Flaherty spent his second season with the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. He hit 10 home runs, and has been talked about as the Orioles second baseman of the future.

9. Matt McClintock. A sophomore at Purdue, McClintock was the Boilermakers first All-American cross country runner in 26 years. The Athens native finished 37th at the national championship meet last month.

In November, McClintock placed second at the Big Ten Conference championship meet. In August, McClintock won the 10,000-meter run at the Pan American Junior Championships in Medellin, Columbia. When he was still a student at Madison Area Memorial High School, McClintock said his goal is to one day run in the Olympics. That goal looks more realistic every time he races.

8. Neal Pratt, chairman of the Cumberland County Civic Center, and Brian Petrovek, former owner of the Portland Pirates. These two fellas were the key players in the soap opera that is the Portland Pirates’ lost season in Lewiston.

A dispute over the Pirates lease with the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland led to lawsuits and a whole bunch of posturing on both sides. Earlier this week, Petrovek sold the team to Ron Cain.

Meanwhile, the Pirates are playing this season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, in front of plenty of empty seats.

7. Brandon Berry. The first and only professional athlete to come out of tiny West Forks (population, 47, give or take a few). Berry began his professional boxing career this year, and so far, so good. Fighting at 143 pounds, Berry is 4-0 as a pro.

Berry’s first professional bout was at Skowhegan Area High School in mid-May. He won via TKO, beating Bill Jones in the fourth round.

6. Bethanie Brown. As a senior at Waterville Senior High School last spring, Brown won the state title in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 to cap one of the best distance careers by a Maine high school runner.

Then, she went and placed third in the 5,000 at the New Balance outdoor track and field national championship in Greensboro, N.C.

Brown recently completed her freshman season with the Iowa State cross country team.

5. Skowhegan Area High School field hockey team. All they do is win. In 2013, the Indians beat Scarborough for their 11th state championship in 12 years. The state championship game was Skowhegan’s 76th consecutive win, a state record.

Right now, the Skowhegan field hockey team is the gold standard in Maine high school girls sports.

4. Nick Gilpin. As long as they show highlights of the state basketball tournament, they’ll show the shot Gilpin made to win the Eastern Class A crown for Hampden Academy.

With his team trailing Lawrence by two points in the final seconds, Gilpin, a freshman at the time, heaved a 30-foot shot. It went in as the buzzer sounded, giving the Broncos a 40-39 win at the Augusta Civic Center.

Hampden went on to beat South Portland for the state title. Gilpin’s shot was one of the days top plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

3. Ben Lucas. A Cony High School senior, Lucas had the best season a Maine high school quarterback has ever had, and led the most impressive game-winning drive in state championship game history.

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