Each season, the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram selects a Most Valuable Player in the 28 Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned sports. From that group, a panel tries to select the very best of the best, the annual male and female Athletes of the Year.

It’s never an easy task and this year was no exception. As Jim Walsh, the Old Orchard Beach High assistant principal and one of the panel members, said, “It was a tremendous roll call of student-athletes.”

This year’s list included the first three-season MVP in the 23 years the awards have been handed out: Brunswick distance runner Will Geoghegan, who was selected as the state’s best in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. It also includes three senior female athletes from Scarborough High — field hockey player Brittany Ross, softball player Heather Carrier and lacrosse player Ellie Morin — who played three sports and elevated the Red Storm to unprecedented team success.

Toss in their off-the-field achievements — academic success, community service — and you can see why they rose to the top.

“no means was this an easy choice,” said Wil Smith, the former McAuley girls’ basketball coach and another panel member. “These are all great kids.”

Lisa Huntress, a track coach at Thornton Academy, said a lot goes into selecting an Athlete of the Year. And it goes far beyond athletic achievement. “You get to the point where you say to yourself, ‘OK, this person has done this and this, that person has done that and that,’ ” she said. “Talking about all these kids helped get a taste of what their character is like.”

The awards ceremony will be held today at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, beginning with a social gathering at 11:30 a.m. and concluding with the presentation of the male and female Athletes of the Year at about 1:45 p.m.

Here are the candidates:

BOYS’ MVPs

Baseball

Matt Verrier, Oxford Hills: Verrier, a catcher, is the Gatorade Player of the Year. He batted .487 with two home runs and 25 RBI to lead the Vikings to the Class A state championship. Verrier will attend Maine on a baseball scholarship.

Basketball

Stefano Mancini, Falmouth: Mancini averaged 21 points for the Class B state champion Yachtsmen. He finished as the third-leading scorer in school history with 1,281 points. He will attend New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire.

Cross country

Will Geoghegan, Brunswick: The two-time Class A state champion, Geoghegan placed third in New England and missed by one spot qualifying for the Foot Locker nationals. He scored a perfect 2,400 on his SAT Reasoning Test and will compete at Dartmouth.

Football

Jack Mallis, Windham: This year’s Fitzpatrick Award winner as the top senior football player in Maine, Mallis had 26 touchdowns and 1,686 rushing yards, and scored four touchdowns in the Class A final. He will attend Southern Connecticut State.

Golf

Brian Angis, Thornton Academy: Angis won the Class A individual title with a 73. A week earlier, he paced the Golden Trojans to the Class A team championship with a 75.

Hockey

Trevor Fleurent, Biddeford: Fleurent led Class A in goals (33) and assists (27), and had the skills to try and score every time he had possession. But instead, he understood the team approach, and his leadership paced the Tigers to the state title.

Indoor track

Will Geoghegan, Brunswick: Geoghegan won three events at the Class A indoor championships while leading the Dragons to the state title. He did the distance trifecta by winning the 800, mile and 2-mile. He also won the New England indoor mile.

Lacrosse

Steven Petrovek, Yarmouth: An attackman, Petrovek had 40 goals and 39 assists to lead the Clippers to an 11-1 regular-season record and the Eastern Class B title. He will go to the University of Denver on a lacrosse scholarship.

Outdoor track

Will Geoghegan, Brunswick: In this spring’s Class A state meet, he won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 to score 30 of Brunswick’s 82 points and help secure the title for the Dragons. Geoghegan also won the 1,600 at the New England championships.

Skiing

Alex Rose, Livermore Falls: The two-time Class C champion in slalom and giant slalom, Rose is also one of the best Alpine skiers in the state. He placed sixth in the slalom at the Eastern championships after qualifying as the top Alpine skier from Maine.

Soccer

Gabe Hoffman-Johnson, Falmouth: A two-time All-American, Hoffman-Johnson led Class B with 28 goals and added 14 assists, helping the Yachtsmen capture their third state title in four years. He will play at Dartmouth.

Swimming

James Wells, Morse: A two-time MVP in swimming, Wells leaves high school with four individual state records and two New England marks. He also won three national titles and will continue his career on a scholarship at Indiana.

Tennis

Brandon Thompson, Waynflete: After reaching the semifinals as a freshman and the final as a sophomore, Thompson won the state singles tournament as a junior with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over teammate Patrick Ordway. He also led the Flyers to a Class C state title.

Wrestling

Matt DelGallo, Gardiner: DelGallo became the 14th wrestler from Maine to win four individual state titles by winning the Class B 125-pound crown. He compiled a school-record 165 wins and will continue his career at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.

GIRLS’ MVPs

Basketball

Nicole Taylor, York: Taylor has started every game for York since her freshman season. She has led the Wildcats to two Class B state championship games, with the Wildcats winning last winter. Taylor averaged 19.1 points and 11.1 rebounds, and has 1,075 career points.

Cross country

Abbey Leonardi, Kennebunk: A sophomore, Leonardi is a two-time Class A state champion and repeat selection as cross country MVP. She opted against defending her New England title but was second in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional qualifier.

Field hockey

Brittany Ross, Scarborough: Ross had 31 goals and 12 assists to help the Red Storm win their first Class A state title. Ross had the uncanny ability to stickhandle through defenses effortlessly. She will attend Providence.

Golf

Laura Grant, Greely: Grant won the state individual title by shooting an 83 in the schoolgirl championship in the fall. Grant had an 8-2 record playing against boys during the regular season for the Greely varsity.

Hockey

Grace Fitzpatrick, Cheverus: Fitzpatrick was the ultimate two-way player who led the Stags to a 21-0 record and the state title. She was the Stags’ top defenseman, yet tied for the team lead in scoring with 22 goals and 16 assists.

Indoor track

Lynn Fleming, Waterville: Fleming won Class B titles in the 55-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump, and helped Waterville finish second to York. Fleming will run track at Southern Maine.

Lacrosse

Ellie Morin, Scarborough: Morin, an All-American her junior season, is considered by many the most complete two-way player this year. Heading into the Class A state final, she had 54 goals and 10 assists. She’ll attend Southern New Hampshire.

Outdoor track

Allison Fereshetian, Leavitt: Fereshetian set the only Class B state record at this year’s state meet, winning the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.72 seconds, which was more than a half-second ahead of the second-place finisher. She will attend the University of Maine.

Skiing

Emily Attwood, Cape Elizabeth: A two-time MVP, Attwood won six consecutive Class B state titles in Nordic skiing. She didn’t lose a high school race, classical or freestyle, as a junior or senior. She plans to continue skiing and running at Middlebury.

Soccer

Emma Clark, York: Clark, who started at midfield for York for four seasons, scored 18 goals and had a phenomenal 31 assists to lead the Wildcats to their second Class B state championship in three years. Clark will attend Boston University, where she will play soccer.

Softball

Heather Carrier, Scarborough: A four-year starter, the catcher also had her finest offensive season, hitting .519 in the regular season with six home runs, 25 RBI, 26 runs and one strikeout in 54 at-bats. Carrier will play softball at Curry College in Milton, Mass.

Swimming

Jenni Roberts, Sanford: During her time at Sanford, Roberts was truly dominant. She set four state records, three New England records and was named swimmer of the meet in Class A for three straight years. She will compete at Maryland.

Tennis

Elena Mandzhukova, Brunswick: An exchange student from Portugal who is originally from Bulgaria, Mandzhukova won the state singles tournament without dropping a set. Seeded second, Mandzhukova defeated Falmouth’s Analise Kump 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the final.

Volleyball

Michaela Campbell, Greely: A 5-foot-7 senior outside hitter, Campbell helped the Rangers win the program’s seventh straight Class A state title. She compiled standout statistics: 77 aces on 216-of-224 serving, 209 kills, nine assists, 223 serve receptions, 40 blocks and 314 digs.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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