On Friday, The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram will honor the state’s best high school athletes at our annual banquet. A player of the year for each sport will be honored and we’ll name our male and female Athletes of the Year. What makes this year so special is that it’s the 25th year of honoring Maine’s best, so we will be catching up with all our Athletes of the Year since the first banquet in 1988. Today, we honor the winners from 2008.
BECKY O’BRIEN, Greely
IN HIGH SCHOOL: O’Brien, a track and field MVP, won 14 state titles in four years in indoor and outdoor track. She set state records in the shot put and discus that still stand. O’Brien was the 2008 national scholastic outdoor champion in the shot put.
SINCE HIGH SCHOOL: O’Brien spent one year at the University of North Carolina before transferring to the University of Buffalo, where she has set school and conference records in the shot put and javelin. She has personal bests of 57 feet, 8 inches in the shot put and 193-8 in the javelin. She will compete in the shot put at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials on June 28.
WHAT IT MEANT TO WIN: “It meant a lot to me. That year there were so many great athletes. I feel very fortunate to have won.”
KYLE STILPHEN, Gardiner
IN HIGH SCHOOL: Stilphen was the baseball MVP. He batted .450 with three home runs, led the Tigers to the Class B state title and was named the Maine Gatorade player of the year. He also was the quarterback for Gardiner’s state championship football team.
SINCE HIGH SCHOOL: Stilphen went to UMaine on a baseball scholarship and stayed for two years. He got injured when a ball smashed into his face, ending his baseball career. Stilphen said he still has vision problems and can’t play baseball any longer. He works for his father hauling logs. Stilphen also is an assistant baseball coach at Oak Hill.
WHAT IT MEANT TO WIN: “I didn’t expect to win it. There were so many great athletes who have won it. It was special and it meant a lot to win it.”