The top sports stories of 2021 in the Caribou region

2 years ago

Editor’s Note: The following is an article highlighting some of the top sports stories from 2021. 

Compiled by Melissa Lizotte

January

Basketball and hockey season in The County got off to an unusual start, with athletes playing to empty gymnasiums and rinks due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of cheering fans filling the bleachers, people could stream games at home thanks to WHOU-FM and other local broadcasting services. 

The Caribou Viking boys kicked off their first game of the season with a 69-66 win over the Houlton Shires. The Jan. 25 game marked only the fourth time that the Caribou team was together on the floor due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions and challenges. Caribou’s Sawyer Deprey led with 27 points scored while teammates Cory Hebert, Ethan Holdsworth, Riley Bouchard and Caleb Espling tallied 14, 11, nine and eight points, respectively.

Passing the ball to a teammate is Caribou’s Riley Bouchard (right) while guarded by Houlton’s Cody Johnston during a Jan. 25 game in Houlton. Caribou won 69-66. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

The Viking girls basketball team narrowly lost to the Houlton Shires 39-34 on Jan. 26. Though the Vikings started off ahead with a 17-9 lead, Houlton caught up by the halftime break with 23-20. Caribou briefly came back on top with 28-27 before the final defeat. Viking players Ashlyn Bouchard, Selena Savage and Gabrielle Sutherland scored 11, 10 and six points, respectively.

Big Rock Mountain in Mars Hill hosted nine downhill ski teams Jan. 27 for a dual boys and girls Alpine ski meet. County teams and players from Caribou, Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield, Central Aroostook, Fort Kent and Madawaska marked high ski times during all three runs of the day.

February

In a busy week of games, the Caribou Viking girls basketball team lost to Southern Aroostook 62-28 on Feb. 2 and to 64-43 against the Presque Isle Wildcats on Feb. 3. The Viking boys scored a 57-30 victory over the Presque Isle Wildcat boys Feb. 3. A strong second-half surge carried the Houlton girls to a 64-41 victory over the Caribou Viking girls on Feb. 5.

The Caribou boys were victorious during a 5K Classical cross country ski race held at Caribou High School Feb. 9. 

The Presque Isle Wildcats girls basketball team defeated the Caribou Viking girls 54-39 during a Feb. 9 game hosted at Caribou High School. Caribou players Ashlyn Bouchard, Emily Collins and Selena Savage scored 15, 12 and six, respectively.

The Caribou boys and Fort Fairfield girls placed first in the 5K freestyle ski race held at Four Seasons Trail Association in Madawaska Feb. 18. The race replaced the usual state championship races, which were called off due to COVID-19.

Caribou’s Sawyer Deprey was recognized as one of 10 semifinalists for Maine’s Mr. Basketball title, the state’s highest honor for basketball players. 

Sawyer Deprey of the Caribou Vikings dribbles the ball past Southern Aroostook’s defense during a March 11 championship game. (Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican & News)

The Caribou Viking boys basketball team finished off an unbeaten season with a 82-56 victory over the Presque Isle Wildcats Feb. 26. Their win made the Vikings the top team to beat at the County playoffs, with a perfect 12-0 record.

March

Caribou Viking boys basketball players scored a 78-43 victory over Fort Kent on Feb. 4 in a Class B/C quarterfinal. Their win placed the Vikings in the semifinals game against Presque Isle. They went on to defeat Central Aroostook for the Division I title and later became the Aroostook League Boys champions, defeating Southern Aroostook 72-45.

The Caribou boys took second place at the Aroostook League Ski Championships, held March 10 at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle and March 11 at Fort Kent Outdoor Center.

The Aroostook League named Caribou basketball players Sawyer Deprey, Cory Hebert, Ethan Holdsworth, Ashlyn Bouchard, Emily Collins and Selena Savage, Caribou Nordic skiers Michael Cyr, George Ferland, Brady Miller, Jim O’Meara, Alex Ring, Malachai Willey, Kayley Bell and Brooke Moir and Alpine skiers Carter Belanger, Keith Bray, Tanner Bradshaw, Elliot Sleeper, P.J. Thornton, Edie Shea, Ella Voisine and Macy Wakem as winter sports all-star athletes for the 2020-21 season.

April

The 12th annual Aroostook League Scholar Athlete Banquet was held virtually on Zoom April 13. Each member school was allowed to include one boy and one girl on the Zoom call to represent their school. Malachai Willey and Edie Shea represented Caribou. Lydian Frost and Connor St. Peter attended on behalf of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. Brenna Levasseur and Kobe West represented Fort Fairfield High School. Mya Gallant and Kobe Overlook attended on behalf of Woodland. Shea, Levasseur and Gallant won $400 scholarships from a drawing. The scholarships are intended for students to use during the second semester of postsecondary education.

Caribou resident Tammy Landeen returned home after completing an intense, 10-day training camp with the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas. Landeen finished training in hopes of competing in the World Cup para-bobsled team.

Tammy Landeen of Caribou (center) recently went through intensive training with the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas in the hope of earning another spot on the U.S. parabobsled national team. (Photo courtesy of Adaptive Training Foundation)

May

High school athletes from across The County competed at Presque Isle Middle School May 2. Girls athletes from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, Caribou and Fort Fairfield placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Boys athletes from Caribou placed first in their division with 256 points, with MSSM and Fort Fairfield rounding out third and fourth place.

The Caribou Vikings girls and boys tennis teams scored victories over Houlton teams May 4. Caribou girls beat Houlton 4-1 while the boys were victorious 5-0.

The Caribou Viking boys baseball team scored their first win of the season with a 7 to 1 victory over Fort Kent. The team had previously lost their first three games to Hermon and Ellsworth.

Tennis teams from across Aroostook County competed at the Maine State Region 1 tennis singles qualifier matches at Caribou High School May 8. The matches were held to determine seedings for the state singles tournament. 

Caribou hosted the Aroostook River Spring Runoff Canoe & Kayak Race on May 15. Thirty-four participants started at the Lower Lyndon Street boat launch and paddled 6.2 miles along the Aroostook River to Forbes Pit. Dan Baumert of Bangor landed the fastest recorded time of 44:18 while Jim Park of Presque Isle received second place with a time of 49:04 and Roger Barnes of Presque Isle came in third with 49:23. The Runoff marked the first kayak and canoe race for Caribou in 27 years. Officials from the city’s recreation department said that their goal is to make the race an annual event.

Boaters gather at the Lower Lyndon Street boat launch with canoes and kayaks for Caribou’s Aroostook River Spring Runoff Canoe & Kayak Race on May 15. (Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican & News)

During the Aroostook League track and field championships May 21, the Caribou Viking boys took home top honors.

June

Caribou girls tennis players ended their previously unbeaten season with a 5-0 loss against the Waterville girls. Vikings coach John Habeeb praised his athletes for making it to the Class B state championships and noted that they still put in a good season.

The Aroostook League announced the All-Aroostook teams for spring 2021, with numerous athletes from the Caribou region named.

July

Loring Timing Association celebrated a landmark 10,000th sprint down the old airfield during its 12th annual land speed races. Ron and Bob Keselowski – both related to NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski – set the top speeds with their Corvettes at upward of 260 miles per hour. The fastest speed recorded at Loring is 311 miles per hour.

LIMESTONE, Maine — July 17, 2021 — Mike Molnar launches off the starting line for one of his last attempts at reaching 200 miles per hour at the Loring Timing Association land speed races. He would hit 198 this run. (Hannah Catlin | St. John Valley Times)

Nearly 100 golfers converged at the Caribou Country Club for the 37th annual Cary Classic Benefit Golf Tournament. Jamie Leavitt of Millinocket captured the Overall Men’s Winner title with a low gross score of 68. Emily Jose of Caribou won the Ladies Division I title with a low gross score of 85. Proceeds from the tournament went toward purchasing updated Mammography and Imaging Services Equipment for Cary Medical Center.

September

In their first game of the season Sept. 11, Caribou Vikings boys soccer players dealt with a 1-0 loss against Old Town.

Both the boys and girls soccer teams from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics scored victories over East Grand on Sept. 27. The Penguin boys won 12-0 while the girls scored 4-0. The games marked the first varsity soccer victories for the Penguin’s coach Luke Hafford.

October

Caribou varsity girls soccer players beat Winslow in their first round of playoffs with a 2-0 win. The victory advanced the team to the quarterfinals in Rockland, where they lost 2-1 to Oceanside.

November

The Aroostook League announced its all stars for the fall 2021 season, which included soccer and cross country athletes from the Caribou region.

December

Caribou varsity girls and boys basketball teams lost against Hermon 64-39 and 47-39, respectively. Girls players Selena Savage, Ashlyn Bouchard and Madelynn Deprey led the team with 11 and eight points each, respectively. Boys players Wesley Lapointe, Braden Sargent and Avery Thibodeau led with 19, six and five points, respectively.

CARIBOU, Maine — December 18, 2021 — Caribou’s Madelyn Deprey receives a pass while guarding from Hermon’s Sydney Gallop (left) and Elizabeth Wyman (right) at a basketball game on Saturday. Hermon won 64-39. (David DiMinno | The Aroostook Republican)