The top sports stories of 2020 in southern Aroostook Part 2
Editor’s Note: The following is the second of two articles highlighting some of the top sports stories from 2020. This article highlights events from July to December.
They may not have had any home games, but that did not stop a group of dedicated baseball players from southern Aroostook County from enjoying their time on the diamond. Coached by Montie Graham, with assistance from Chad Thompson and PJ Harvey. The Houlton squad played games against teams in the Down East region, featuring groups from Baileyville, Calais and Machias.
Youngsters from kindergarten to eighth grade were able to enjoy a bit of athletic excitement as the Dutch Soccer Academy wrapped up a week-long clinic in the Shiretown. A group of about 30 children sharpened their soccer skills under the direction of Robbie Krul.
Family and friends gathered outside the John A. Millar Civic Center to celebrate the life of Aaron Henderson at the sixth annual SFC Aaron Henderson Memorial 5K road race. Teanne Ewings, 13, of Houlton was the overall race winner, completing the 5-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 16.5 seconds. It marked the second straight year that Ewings finished as the overall race winner.
Jacob Bushey, the 10-year-old son of Ryan and Kathy Bushey of Houlton, carded his first ever hole-in-one while golfing with his friends as part of the Junior Golf program at the Houlton Community Golf course.
Construction was nearing completion on an expanded, regulation-sized soccer field for the Hodgdon girls soccer team. Although the field was not ready for the start of the fall soccer season, school officials were optimistic it would be ready for fall 2021.
It was a time for laughter and a few tears as family and friends of the late Sgt. 1st Class Aaron A. Henderson gathered for the eighth annual Aaron Henderson softball tournament. This year’s softball tournament raised nearly $10,000. All the money raised is donated to the Green Beret Foundation in Aaron’s honor. Gentle Inc. battled its way out of the loser’s bracket to claim this year’s championship with a 10-9 victory over Legends.
The Maine Principals Association, after a week of discussions with several state agencies and education groups, released revised guidance for a return to competitive interscholastic athletics during the fall season. The plan cleared the way for soccer, field hockey, cross country and golf to be played, while football and volleyball were pushed to next year because of the perceived higher risk under the state’s COVID-19 prevention rules.
The Aroostook League approved a varsity schedule for soccer that saw most teams playing an eight-game schedule, in addition to an Aroostook County playoffs. A format featuring two divisions of high school teams was created, with each division crowning a champion.
A new Disc Golf course opened in Houlton. It took the better part of three years for this course to come to fruition, from the initial concept conversation, raising the funds, selecting a proper location, discussions with others involved and design. The course is located at Houlton Community Park.
The Houlton/GHCA cross country team hosted its first-ever meet in Riverfront Park. Traditionally, cross country meets were held behind Houlton Middle-High School, in an area known as the Bird Farm. For this race, organizers decided to utilize the recently built trail system in downtown Houlton that follows the Meduxnekeag River.
The Houlton golf team placed sixth in the state Class C competition at the Natanis Golf Course. The Shires tallied a 378 team score on the day.
Greater Houlton Christian Academy captured both the boys and girls championship crowns at the Aroostook County Middle School Championships.
It was not the football season teams may have hoped for, but the Houlton Shires and Aroostook Huskies at least played some games this fall, in an abbreviated manner. Because the Maine Principals Association deemed football was unsafe for regular play due to COVID-19 concerns, teams were only allowed to hold seven-on-seven flag football games against neighboring squads. The Shires and Huskies met for a couple of games on the season.
In soccer playoffs, the Presque Isle boys soccer team upset top-ranked and previously unbeaten Hodgdon 3-0 in a boys Division I soccer semifinal. The top-ranked Fort Kent girls soccer team advanced to the Division I Aroostook County League Championship with a convincing 6-1 victory over Hodgdon. The Ashland girls soccer team defeated Katahdin 6-0 in an Aroostook League Division II semifinal.
The No. 1 Van Buren boys soccer team defeated No. 4 Southern Aroostook 9-1 in an Aroostook League Division II semifinal.
After 28 years as the premier sled dog racing event in New England, the 2021 Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winter sports for high school athletes were put on hold as COVID-19 cases spiked dramatically in Aroostook County. The MPA officially moved the start of basketball season to Jan. 11, but teams were able to begin conditioning drills in anticipation of a potential season.