The top sports stories of 2022 in the Presque Isle area Part 2
Editor’s Note: The following is the second of two articles highlighting some of the region’s top sports stories from 2022. This article highlights events from July through December.
The second half of 2022 featured many exciting sports events and milestones across Aroostook County. There were high achievements from people living in The County, like Peter Belskis being recognized by the Maine State Soccer Coaches Association, to unexpected developments such as the contract dispute between the Maine Principals Association and the union representing high school ice hockey officials.
Anyone driving by the Irish Setter Pub in Presque Isle on July 1 likely did a double take at the red Ferrari in the yard. But word travels fast, and when more and more people found out the sports car belonged to Ultimate Fight Championship President Dana White, the restaurant quickly filled with hopefuls wanting a photo or a glimpse of the sports franchise celebrity.
In a remarkable performance, 14-year-old Michael Bruce of Fort Fairfield shot an even par 72 at the Caribou Country Club Golf Course, and took the Cary Classic Tournament Championship on Saturday, July 9. Playing in windy conditions, Bruce bested some 90 golfers in the annual event to benefit the Jefferson Cary Foundation. Jane Hunter took the Ladies Division 1 title with a score of 91.
Presque Isle Middle School hosted the Track and Field Aroostook League Championship on Aug. 2. The overall top female for individual score was Keira Tompkins of Presque Isle Middle School with 32 points. Tori Ervin of Greater Houlton Christian Academy finished second with 28.5 points. Hailey Himes, PIMS, tied for third place with GHCA’s Andrea Ross scoring 24.5 points.
When the Aroostook Valley Country Club in Fort Fairfield and Four Falls, New Brunswick, opened for the season in May, it was the first time in nearly two years that Americans could golf the 18-hole, 6,305-yard course. By August, membership had grown to 141, nearing pre-Covid levels.
This year’s TD Bank Golf Tournament raised more than $13,000 after expenses for Northern Maine Community college scholarships. The event, held Aug. 11 at the Presque Isle Country Club, benefited the NMCC Foundation, which awards scholarships to students.
Gracie Fighter Jiu-Jitsu opened a second gym in Aroostook County on Sept. 12 where the business offers beginner-level training classes to kids and adults. Rob Mockler, a blue belt instructor of Gracie Fighter, contacted Economic and Development director Galen Wiebley to expand his gym to Presque Isle to offer beginner and adult classes at the 497 Main St. building. The Caribou gym offers Mixed Martial Arts for adults.
The Washburn Beavers revived the cross country program after not competing in 2021 and had 12 boys and six girls competing for eighth-year coach Kolbie Churchill. The program has experienced success in recent years. The boys placed third in Class C three years ago and qualified for the state meet in 2020, but that competition was scrapped due to COVID-19.
The Mars Hill Rotary Club sponsored the 20th annual Alton McQuade Mars Hill Open Aug. 13 and 14 at the Mars Hill Country Club. More than 100 players enjoyed the warm weather, beautiful scenery as they went around the course, and renewing or making new friends.
A Castle Hill girl and Monticello boy advanced to the Elks Soccer Shoot regional championships after winning the state competition held in Bangor Sunday, Oct. 16. Lucy Cheney, representing Presque Isle Elks Lodge 1954, took home the title in the under-14 girls division, while Drake Lynds, representing Houlton Elks Lodge 835, placed first in the boys under 10 division.
SAD 1 Superintendent Ben Greenlaw brought the SAD 1 school board up to date on the contract dispute between the Maine Principals Association and high school ice hockey officials during a meeting Wednesday night. The MPA approved a three year contract in July 2022 for all Maine school sports officials, but the ice hockey officials voted on Oct. 18 to reject the rate proposal.
The sudden death of Aaron Marston, a professor and women’s soccer coach at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, left the community, campus and alumni around the country reeling. Marston, 47, died Oct. 19 from a probable heart attack.
The Maine Soccer Coaches Association unveiled its Regional All-Star Teams for boys and girls soccer and many local athletes were among those honored. Michael Jeffrey, president of the Maine Soccer Coaches, said that in the voting process, 195 ballots were submitted — 100 boys and 95 girls.
Excellence for Ashland soccer and coach Peter Belskis have been synonymous for the past 43 years. Belskis was recognized by the Maine State Soccer Coaches Association for his career 213 wins in girls soccer, and factoring in 250 wins for the Ashland boys, put him at 463 total victories during his impressive coaching career.
Paul Deschaine, coach of the Central Aroostook girls varsity basketball team in Mars Hill, couldn’t have imagined what would happen after the first scrimmage of the season on Dec. 2. Deschaine’s phone was exploding with calls after the game in Washburn, but he didn’t answer them because he was busy organizing the players to go home. He later learned his house had burned in a fire. The community rallied around the Deschaine family. A GoFundMe page set up by family friend Britney Tompkins raised $10,000 in three days, and Deschaine’s employer, Ascent Global Logistics, told him that the company would match up to $10,000. A dozen teachers and basketball players in the Mars Hill community even volunteered to put up a Christmas tree and decorations to make the Deschaines’ Christmas as normal as possible.