The top sports stories in the Presque Isle area for first half of 2022
Editor’s Note: The following is the first of two articles highlighting some of the Presque Isle region’s top sports stories from 2022. This article highlights events from January through June.
The first six months in 2022 featured many highlights and exciting sports venues across The County. The first half of the year threw many curveballs and heartwarming moments in the sports landscape in Aroostook County from Hall of Fame entries and a removal to nail biting that left sports fans on the edge of their seats.
A second-half surge lifted the Hodgdon girls basketball team to a commanding 75-17 victory over Fort Fairfield Tuesday, Jan. 4. The Hawks, 8-0 in Class C North, would have their toughest test to date at 6 p.m. Friday when Southern Aroostook (7-0 in Class D North) journeyed to the Hawk’s Nest for a battle of unbeaten squads.
The Presque Isle High School Hall of Fame inducted five new members into its ranks on Friday, Jan. 14. The Presque Isle High School Hall of Fame welcomed Kayla Legassie Buck (Class of 2009), Kylan Smith (Class of 2006), Nelson “Nellie” Guerrette (Class of 1957), Mike Chasse (Class of 2000) and Sue Lougee. Nelson Guerrette died in August 2021, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2021. His family plans to attend the next ceremony in 2023. Sue Lougee plans to attend in 2023 as well.
The Presque Isle Middle and High School cheering squads both captured top honors Friday evening in the 2022 Aroostook League Cheering Championships. The High School Regional Cheer Championships take place Saturday, Jan. 29, at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Held at Caribou High School, this year’s event featured both the middle and high school squads competing on the same night. In previous years, the two groups competed at separate events. Last year’s competition was held virtually because of COVID-19.
The visiting Presque Isle hockey squad broke open what was otherwise a close contest with the Houlton-Hodgdon-Southern Aroostook Black Hawks Jan. 19 at the Millar Civic Center. Presque Isle (2-3) scored six goals in the third period to skate away with a 7-0 victory over the Black Hawks (0-5). Both of the Wildcats’ victories have been over the Black Hawks.
Two longtime basketball broadcasters in Aroostook County were fired from radio station WHOU after making disparaging remarks on-air about some of the student players. Jim Carter and Steve Shaw were getting ready to broadcast a high school girls basketball game when they made inappropriate comments about basketball players on a different girls game also being broadcast online. The comments had to do with the players’ appearance. Carter and Shaw didn’t know the microphone was on.
The visiting Houlton Shiretowners rolled to a pair of victories over Central Aroostook Monday evening as both the Panther boys and girls squad fell. Houlton’s Drew Warmen and Mia Henderson were on the attack to lead the Shires with 15 points each to carry Houlton to a 59-35 victory over Central Aroostook. The Central Aroostook boys also could not match Houltons scoring, as the Panthers fell 62-18. In the girls game, Houlton held a 26-13 lead over the Panthers by halftime.
The regular season for boys and girls high school basketball finished, but there was still plenty of basketball to be played. The Maine Principals Association released its final Heal Point standings, bringing good news to many squads who were hoping to host a preliminary playoff. Because this year’s tournament format was open, every team qualified for the postseason.
Hudson Porter took first place in the 10-11 boys’ age division at the state championship of the Elks Hoop Shoot foul shooting competition. The event was held Sunday, Feb. 6, at the James F. Doughty School. Porter, representing Presque Isle Elks Lodge 1954, converted 17 of 25 attempts to defeat two other competitors. He is the son of Matthew and Billie Porter of Mapleton.
Presque Isle High School senior guard Faith Sjoberg knew her shots would have to eventually fall. And they did. Sjoberg missed her first five 3-pointers but wound up hitting eight of 14 the rest of the way en route to a 30-point performance that guided the fourth-seeded Wildcats to a 45-30 win over No. 12 Mount View of Thorndike in a Class B North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Saturday morning.
Former WHOU announcer Jim Carter withdrew from the Presque Isle High School Hall of Fame and its selection committee after being fired last month for making body-shaming comments about female players on air. Carter, as well as co-announcer Steve Shaw, made comments regarding the weight and appearance of female players in a basketball game that they were watching, but not announcing at the time. The two men were unaware that their microphones were turned on. Carter and Shaw had been broadcasting for decades and were heavily involved in high school sports in Aroostook County.
Nineteen players, both boys and girls, had scored 1,000 points in their basketball careers at Presque Isle High School by this time. On Feb. 15, in a game against Belfast High, senior guard Faith Sjoberg became the 20th Wildcat player to reach the mark. Sjoberg’s achievement capped a final season for the PI girls team in which she repeatedly demonstrated her leadership and impressive skill on the court.
Basketball season was over, but one more set of games would be played for a select group of senior high school players. Forty school boys and school girls seniors were selected to participate in the Aroostook League’s annual Senior All-Star Game. All-Stars are selected based on nominations from coaches as well as opinions from local media representatives.
Jeff Hudson, who won nearly 79 percent of his games in 28 seasons as a high-school girls basketball coach, stepped down after 23 years at Presque Isle High School. He began his career at Limestone High School, where he spent his first five seasons as head coach. In his time in Presque Isle, he compiled a 361-102 record and led his team to six regional championship game appearances, four regional titles (2006, 2012, 2013, 2015) and three Class B state championships (2006, 2012 and 2013).
Eleven-year-old Hudson Porter of Mapleton completed his Elks Hoop Shoot season Saturday, March 12, by placing third at the New England Regional Championships. Porter connected on 20 of 25 free throw attempts to finish in a tie with Vermont’s Landon Brown for runner-up honors in the 10-11 boys’ division. Brown then went on to defeat Porter in a tiebreaker. Patrick Wingate of Rhode Island captured the top spot with a score of 21 to advance to the national finals in Chicago April 30.
The familiar half-mile oval at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds would soon look quite different as harness racing fades into the past and part of the track area is used for other purposes. Northern Maine Fair Association officials recently said this summer’s fair will be held from Thursday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 7.
With most of the snow finally melted, the Houlton Community Golf Course is just one short week away from opening for the season. Typically the first golf course to open in Aroostook County, the Houlton Community Golf Course is on track to continue that tradition this spring. Course officials have targeted Wednesday, April 27, as its opening date. Last year, the course opened on April 19.
A northern Maine athlete with visual and hearing impairments finished the Boston Marathon on Monday with a personal best record time of 3:34:49. Dennis Lavoie, 59, was among dozens of Mainers and was one of three Aroostook County runners, along with Sarah Mulcahy of Fort Kent and Craig Reese of Presque Isle, to complete this year’s Boston Marathon. More than 28,000 athletes competed in the 26.2-mile race.
It may have taken a cooperative agreement with neighboring Washburn, but baseball players from Easton will have an opportunity to play this spring. The Washburn and Easton school districts have teamed up in order to create a co-op varsity baseball team between the two schools, with 15 students from Washburn and two coming from Easton.
A Mapleton youth took top honors in the 2021-22 National Elks Soccer Shoot competition. Emily Collins, who was sponsored by Presque Isle Elks Lodge No. 1954, earned the top spot in the U-12 girls division. Her score of 50 points was the highest in the country in the U-12 Division (10–11-year-olds). Collins edged out her closest competitor, winning by only one point.
Track and field athletes from throughout Aroostook County converged on Presque Isle Middle School for the Aroostook League Championships Friday, May 20. And when the dust had settled, the Presque Isle boys and Houlton/Greater Houlton Christian Academy girls were crowned the 2022 champions. It marked the second straight year that the Shires won the County crown.
The Fort Fairfield High School Athletic Hall of Fame announced its eighth class to be inducted on Thursday, July 14, at the high school. A banquet and induction of the class of five athletes/contributors were held.
The regular season was a fond memory for local baseball and softball squads, but thanks to an open tournament format, more games would be played. The regular season came to a close June 1, with several local teams sitting at or near the top of the standings in their respective divisions.
Hodgdon’s pitching duo of Sadie Thompson and Marissa Dow combined to toss a no-hitter in Tuesday’s Class D North preliminary playoff against Central Aroostook. Thompson and Dow allowed just three walks, while striking out seven to lift Hodgdon to a 15-1 victory over No. 14 Central Aroostook in a five-inning contest shortened via the mercy rule.