One-time overachiever repeats as state champ

The willingness to work hard usually pays off. It certainly did for Brendon Bradley of Mountain Valley.

The Falcon senior capped off a stellar career by winning his second straight Class B state championship. Bradley had been labeled an “overachiever” a year earlier in winning his initial state crown, so a repeat performance showed that it was no fluke.

“He came out of nowhere last year,” Mountain Valley coach Gary Dolloff said. “He was so overlooked being a two-time state champ. Brendon just never gave up.”

Throughout the season, Bradley’s determination and competitiveness was evident. Several outstanding matches against Mark Stambach of Lisbon served as a challenge for things to come.

Bradley saved his best for last, when everything was on the line at the Class B state meet. A dominating win in the semi-final had set up a rematch against Joe Brownwell in the state final. Bradley had lost to Brownwell 9-8 in the regional final the previous week, but the rematch was a different story.

Bradley came from behind in the third period for a 6-4 decision. The victory also clinched the team title. It was the Falcons second straight state title.

“I did what I had to do, but I can do better,” Bradley said after semifinal match. “Revenge is on my mind for the final, we’ll see. There was pressure in the final, but I knew I had to step up”

Bradley learned how to perform in a pressure situation, having been a two-way starter on the Mountain Valley 2004 state championship football team.

“He had the pressure of the team on him this year to win a team title also,” Dolloff said. “I think football was one of the keys to success. Brendon, over the past two years, never let emotions of wrestling get to him. He stayed focused.”

Colby Brooks

Edward Little sprinter breaks two state records

When Lewiston’s Kurt Thibeault defeated him in an early 200-meter dash during the indoor track season, Colby Brooks viewed the loss as a wake-up call.

With added focus and increased preparation, the Edward Little senior wouldn’t lose another 200.

In a repeat of his junior year, Brooks won the 55-meter dash, the 200 and ran a leg on the winning 800 relay team at the Class A state championships. Just to cement his dominance, he set state records in the two individual events.

“I hadn’t lost in about two years,” says Brooks of the defeat. “I’m glad that happened. He just made me want it more.”

As soon as the state meet ended last year, Brooks established his goals for this season. For one goal, he wanted to repeat as the state champion in all three races. The other was to break the 200 record.

“I wanted to get that record,” says Brooks. “I just missed it last year.”

The Brooks-Thibeault matchup was the most anticipated race when EL and Lewiston hooked up this season. Brooks’ desire to defeat his friendly rival would be draining on most athletes, but Brooks is not like “most” athletes.

“He’s actually one of the most focused athletes I’ve coached,” says Edward Little coach Ryan LaRoche. “(After the defeat) he had to prepare himself more every meet. On the plus side, he was prepared. On the downside, he had to have a strong meet every time.”

At the state meet, Brooks broke the 55 record for the second year in a row by turning in a time of 6.60 seconds. In the 200, he beat runner-up Thibeault by more than a half second Just as he crossed the finish line in 22.65 seconds, he turned to see the reaction of his coach. What he saw was a celebration by both LaRoche and some EL faithful.

“That was the race I wanted the most,” says Brooks. “I didn’t feel like I ran it. My body just took over and I went. It was an awesome feeling. It just blew me away.”

Kaylie DeMillo

Junior guard rewriting record book at Jay

Kaylie DeMillo just about did it all this season. The Jay sharpshooter set records and shattered streaks on the way to an all-star season as a junior.

DeMillo was the top scorer in the Mountain Valley Conference with 22.9 points per game, but those numbers were just a portion of her impressive milestones. She surpassed the 1,000-point mark back in December and became the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls’ basketball two days later, surpassing Jane Hamel’s standard of 1,015. With another year to play, she’s already on pace to break Jay’s all-time mark of 1,392 set by John Cornelio.

In addition to scoring nearly half the team’s points, DeMillo also had four assists, 3.6 steals per game and shot 70 percent from the foul line. She scored in double figures in every game, with a season-high of 42.

With just three seniors in the lineup, DeMillo helped the Tigers post a 12-6 record, reaching the Western C quarterfinals for the third straight year. Along the way, she helped the Tigers beat Dirigo twice, a feat no other team has accomplished in well over a decade.

Tyler Dorris

Edward Little Alpine skier puts team ahead of self

Could Tyler Dorris have won the state Class A downhill events? Probably.

Instead, though, Dorris put his team ahead of himself, choosing to ski cautiously, stand up and give the Edward Little Red Eddies a shot at a state Alpine title.

It worked.

Dorris took second place in both the giant slalom and slalom events on back-to-back days to pace the Eddies to the 2006 Class A alpine title.

“I already had won the state (the year before) in GS,” said Dorris. “Our whole thought all season was to win a team title, so I had no problem not winning the individual events.”

“His training and work ethic is something else,” said EL coach Tara Eretzian. “He’s just a fun kid to be around.”

When he stood up, he won or he gave his team a chance to win. It was that simple.

Amy Dyer

Fryeburg skier caps off four-year unbeaten career

Perfection isn’t easy. In ski racing, especially, so many things can go wrong. You can lose an edge, clip a gate, catch some ice or some bad air on a bump.

In four years, though some of these things did happen to Amy Dyer of Fryeburg Academy, none of the bobbles ever cost her a win.

Amy Dyer simply didn’t want to lose, so she didn’t. Four years, eight state downhill titles and a host of awards later, she still hasn’t lost a Maine Principals’ Association race that mattered.

This year at the Class B state meet, with the streak on the line in the girls’ slalom, she ripped off a first run in 37.03 seconds, a full 4.62 seconds faster than Emma Lobozzo’s second-best run.

In the second run, with the victory seemingly well in hand, she went even faster, running 36.55 seconds down the icy slope. The final margin of victory? Almost 10 seconds.

Mandy Ivey

Oxford Hills skier saves best effort for state races

All Mandy Ivey wanted to do was “go out with a bang.”

Instead, the Maine skiing community got the equivalent of the Boston Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza.

Ivey has been the best cross country ski racer in Class A for two years, but she put her exclamation point on the 2006 season.

At the Class A meet at Black Mountain, Ivey braved sub-par conditions on the first day of competition and won – nay, blew away – the rest of the field, winning the freestyle event by almost two minutes.

In the classical race, a stronger event for most of the field, she again eclipsed the competition by a healthy margin, winning by 50 seconds.

“It was definitely special this year, as a senior,” said Ivey. “I did well my sophomore and junior years, but I wanted people to remember, I wanted to go out with a bang. My state meet races were probably my best of the year.”

Mike Lessard

Leavitt Nordic skier wins Class B classical race

Standing in the shadows for an entire career is never fun. Sometimes, athletes will come along at just the wrong time, and have to play second-fiddle, despite being solid in their own right.

Leavitt cross country skier Mike Lessard couldn’t be blamed for feeling this way for two years in the KVAC. Two strong Messalonskee skiers always seemed to be a step ahead in both events.

This year was different.

After coming in third in the freestyle race on the first day of the Class B state championships behind Nils Koons and Sam Mathes of Messalonskee, Lessard had two days to refocus, to get ready for the classical race – his better discipline.

He nailed it.

Lessard clocked in at 12:39.6 in the race, which he started one place ahead of Mathes, and held his ground. Mathes’ time? 12:40.6, one second off of Lessard’s pace.

“He had a great, strong end to the season,” said Leavitt coach Jason Leavitt. “And really, he did that without training all the time.”

In the offseason, instead of running cross country or training on roller-skis, Lessard played soccer. Next year, though, will be a different story, as he plans to ski exclusively in college.

Emily Lewandowski

Swimmer helps St. Dom’s make splash without team

St. Dominic Regional High School has a state champion swimmer before sponsoring an official varsity swim team.

Emily Lewandowski outdistanced swimmers from more established programs to win the gold medal in the 500-freestyle at the Class B state championships. Lewandowski’s winning time was 5 minutes, 24.78 seconds.

The St. Dom’s junior also placed second in the 200 individual medley in 2:10.48. Lewandowski also anchored the Saints’ 200 medley relay team to a fifth-place finish and ninth in the 400 freestyle relay.

As a sophomore, Lewandowski placed second in both the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke.

That St. Dom’s is even considering adding swimming to its winter sports lineup is testamant to Lewandowski’s persistance. She has been swimming competitively for roughly nine years.

In an earlier interview, Lewandowski said she practices 3 to 4 hours per day.

Lewandowski is no one-girl team. Working out with the Hebron Academy program, Lewandoski has brought along a few talented teammates. Not the only St. Dom’s competitor to place at the state meet, the Saints placed seventh as a team.

The growing interest should help the program gain varsity status. With any luck, it will happen before Lewandowski graduates in 2007.

Ryan Martin

Maranacook sharpshooter carries team to state title

When someone has the kind of season Maranacook’s Ryan Martin had, scoring 24 points per game and earning KVAC Player of the Year honors while leading his team to its first state title, it might seem foolish to mess with success.

But don’t expect him to duplicate the grueling summer regimen that led up to his remarkable sophomore season.

Playing three sports (basketball, baseball and soccer), running long distance and lifting weights caught up to Martin’s still growing body, and he suffered a stress fracture in his back.

“I overtrained during the summer. I had to sit out for eight weeks and wear a back brace for the end of soccer season, and for the first three weeks or so, I could only play two or three minutes at a time,” he said.

Fortunately for the Black Bears, Martin had fully recovered by the time basketball season started, although it could be argued that he didn’t really peak until when it counted the most, the tournament.

Martin ran away with the Eastern Maine tournament’s MVP award. His 36 field goals and 102 points for the three-game tournament were both just one shy of Van Buren legend Matt Rossignol’s records. He scored 21 more points in the state championship game against Mountain Valley.

The 5-foot-9 guard’s quickness, pinpoint shooting (53 percent from the field) and uncanny ability to get his shot off over much taller players in heavy traffic made him the most dangerous offensive weapon in Class B this year.

And he’s only going to get better. Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt sent his star into the offseason with instructions to work on extending his jump shot and using his left hand. Martin also plans on attending the prestigious Five-Star Basketball Camp.

Martin will be busy this summer, but he’s learned his lesson.

“I hope to try to do some things this offseason,” he said, “except maybe not quite as hard.”

Brian Nason

Goalie backstops Lewiston to state title game

Brian Nason wasn’t just in the players’ heads this hockey season, but in the coaches’ noggins as well.

Coach after coach would leave the Colisee frustrated, shaking his head.

And on the odd day when Nason lost, coaches were still quick to praise him, saying they were “fortunate,” getting “good bounces” and “still almost lost” even if they had outplayed the forwards and defensive corps.

“When I first came in here, I immediately thought we had a chance to win the state title because we had a guy like Brian in net,” Lewiston coach Norm Gagne gushed before this year’s state championship game at the Colisee.

And Nason, who played in every meaningful game for the Blue Devils this winter, took it all in stride. He finished the season with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage over 19 games. In the playoffs, he ramped up his game even more. In four games, including a 3-1 loss to Cheverus in the state final and a four-overtime thriller against Brunswick, Nason allowed five goals, posting one shutout and two one-goal wins.

“There are games we played this year that we didn’t deserve to win, but Nason pulled us through it,” said Gagne. “That’s the kind of competitor he is.”

For all of his accomplishments on the ice, between the pipes for the Blue Devils, Nason is the 2006 Sun Journal hockey player of the year.