They come from all over the state, 27 high school athletes who were selected as the best in their respective sports.
Some specialized in one sport, others excelled in several. On Sunday, they will all be honored at the 27th annual All-Sports banquet sponsored by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. Two will be recognized as male and female Athlete of the Year.
Their selections were made early last week by a panel of the newspaper’s sports staff and high school officials. It was not an easy choice.
“I just thought there were some amazing candidates and some amazing accomplishments that separated them from other people throughout the state,” said Rich Buzzell, the athletic director at Marshwood High and one of the selection panelists. “I kept thinking how hard they must have worked to get to where they were.”
The banquet will be held at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, beginning with a social gathering at 11:30 a.m. Simon Williams, a former baseball player at Portland High and the University of Maine, will be the guest speaker. Williams played minor league baseball for three seasons and eventually joined the Peace Corps in 2012, and spent two years in Ukraine.
Here’s a look at the Players of the Year in each sport:
BOYS’ CROSS COUNTRY
Josef Holt-Andrews, a senior at Telstar High in Bethel, was one of the state’s best distance runners, no matter the season. He was the Class C cross country champion who set a Belfast course record of 15:06 and was third in the New England championships with a time (15:12) faster than the previous course record. He earned All-America honors with a 10th-place finish at the Foot Locker nationals. He’ll continue his career at Iowa State.
GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY
Kirstin Sandreuter, a senior at Greely High in Cumberland, was the Class B state champion with the fastest time (18:37) of any class. She was fourth in New England with a time of 17:48, bettered in Maine history only by Abbey Leonardi and Cassie Hintz, and finished 19th at the Foot Locker nationals. She will continue her career at Cornell.
Taylor Simpson, a senior forward at York High, set a school record with 38 goals and added 10 assists with vastly improved all-around play to go with a strong, accurate shot from both sides. The Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist will play at Division II power Merrimack. She also was played lacrosse for the Wildcats.
Ben Lucas, a senior quarterback who became the state’s all-time passing leader, guided Cony to the Class B state title by directing the Rams on a 99-yard drive in the final minutes. He passed for 3,482 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior. In three seasons Lucas threw for 7,700 yards with 89 touchdown passes, both state records. He’ll attend the University of Maine.
Luke Ruffing, a senior at Maranacook, won the Class B individual title with a 71. He finished second as a sophomore and junior, and needed four birdies down the stretch to win the title. A week earlier he shot the same score in the team championships. Ruffing, also a baseball player, was unbeaten with one tie in regular-season matches.
Jenna Hallett, a junior at Presque Isle, shot a 76 at the individual state championships to tie for the girls’ title with Bailey Plourde, a freshman from Lincoln Academy. She was the No. 2 player on the school’s team. Hallett also won the Maine Junior championship last summer.
Wyatt Omsberg, a senior midfielder at Scarborough, scored 19 goals to lead the Red Storm to a second consecutive Class A state title. Considered a consummate team player by his coach, he’ll continue his career at Dartmouth.
Cassie Symonds, a junior midfielder at Windham, used her game sense and skills to control games for the Class A state champion. She scored nine goals and six assists as Windham captured its first Class A title with an unbeaten season.
Megan Tamarro, a junior setter at Falmouth, not only helped the Yachtsmen win their first state championship, she owned a position she had never played before July. Tamarro boasted an 88 percent serve rate with 39 aces. She added 17 kills, 115 digs and 11 blocks, along with her 665 sets and 311 assists.
Dustin Cole of Bonny Eagle led the Scots to four consecutive Western Class A finals. The senior point guard averaged 24.5 points to lead the SMAA in scoring for the second straight year. He finished with 1,812 points in his four-year career to become the SMAA’s all-time leading scorer. He’ll play in college at Division II Franklin Pierce.
Allie Clement, a senior point guard at McAuley, led the Lions to four consecutive Class A state championships. A repeat choice for Maine Sunday Telegram and Gatorade Player of the Year honors, Clement was also named Miss Maine Basketball. She averaged 18.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.2 steals. Clement will next play at perennial NCAA qualifier Marist.
Chase Cunningham, a senior forward at Messalonskee High in Oakland, scored 82 points in leading the Eagles to their first Class B state championship. Playing on a line with his younger brother, Jared, he scored his 100th career goal in a 6-1 win over Gorham in the state championship game as Messalonskee completed a 21-0 season.
Devan Kane, a senior goalie, led Scarborough to an undefeated state championship. Kane finished with a 0.36 goals-against average and a .976 save percentage, recording 11 shutouts. For her career, Kane was 56-8-4 with 31 shutouts, a .970 save percentage and a 0.55 goals-against average. She accepted a scholarship to Sacred Heart University.
BOYS’ INDOOR TRACK
Dan Curts, a senior at Ellsworth, was another of the state’s top distance runners. He finished third in the New England championships in the 2-mile (9:07.24), breaking the 39-year-old all-time Maine record held by Bruce Bickford of Lawrence (9:15.5), and he won the 2-mile at the Class B state meet. Curts also excelled in cross country and outdoor track. He’ll attend Iowa State.
GIRLS’ INDOOR TRACK
Kate Hall, a junior at Lake Region, was the runner-up at the high school national championships in New York in the long jump with a state all-time best mark of 19-11¼. At the Class B state meet, Hall set a state record in the 55-meter dash (7:05), and broke her own state records in the 200 (25.36) and long jump (19-3¾).
Braden Becker, a senior at Yarmouth, is a two-time Class B classic state champion who placed third in freestyle after winning that event last winter. He helped lead the Clippers to the Class B Nordic championship. Becker placed seventh in the 10K classic at the junior nationals, just 53 seconds behind the winner.
Elise Luce, a senior at Mt. Abram, is a four-time Class B giant slalom champion and three-time slalom champ who also won the Eastern high school giant slalom title over a field of 122. She was more than 6 seconds faster than her closest competitor in the Class B slalom and nearly 4 seconds ahead of the giant slalom runner-up.
Eric Delmonte, a senior at Deering High, was the Class A state champion in the 200 individual medley (1:54.58) – finishing more than two seconds faster than anyone else – and 100 breast stroke (57.61). The latter time lowered the state record set last winter by Jerry Gravel of Scarborough.
Emma Waddell, a senior at Bangor, is a four-time Class A state champion in the 100 butterfly (with a state-record time of 54.49) who also won the 200 individual medley (2:04.83), and posted the state’s fastest times in the 200 and 500 freestyle. She will attend Williams College.
Cody Hughes of Marshwood, was one of the state’s dominant wrestlers as a junior. En route to a third straight Class A title, the repeat All-Telegram pick went 49-1 at 160 pounds, losing in overtime in the New England final, 2-1. Hughes has a 149-9 career record.
Ben Greenberg, a senior at Scarborough, was named Most Valuable Player of the SMAA for the second consecutive year. A pitcher/third baseman, he won five games with an earned-run average of 1.18 and a league-leading 52 strikeouts while also batting .381. Greenberg, the starting quarterback on the football team, will attend Fordham on a baseball scholarship.
Alyssa Williamson, a senior at Scarborough, has been one of the state’s best players for the last four years. A pitcher/first baseman, she led the SMAA with seven homers and a 1.086 slugging percentage. For the third year in a row, she did not strike out. As a pitcher, she was 6-0 in the regular season with a 1.27 ERA for the top-ranked Red Storm. Williamson will play softball at Division I Drexel.
IV Stucker, a senior midfielder for Falmouth, scored 38 goals and 26 assists in helping the Yachtsmen to the regional final. A football and basketball player as well, Stucker moved to Maine for his junior year from the lacrosse hotbed of Maryland. He has a skill set not normally seen in Maine lacrosse players. Stucker will play at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.
Grace O’Donnell, a senior at Yarmouth, led the Clippers to the Class B state final by scoring 56 goals and 17 assists. Not only did she display great talent, but also great game sense. She collected 35 ground balls and caused 17 turnovers. A basketball player as well, O’Donnell will play lacrosse at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
BOYS’ OUTDOOR TRACK
Isaac Yeboah, a senior at Cheverus, swept the hurdle races and was on two winning relay teams, one of which set a state record in the 400 relay (43.32 seconds), as the Stags won their first Class A title since 1998. He finished third in the 300 hurdles (39.47) at the New England championships. He also played soccer for the Stags. He’ll run track at Maine.
GIRLS’ OUTDOOR TRACK
Kate Hall of Lake Region won four events at the Class B state meet (100, 200, long jump, triple jump), breaking three of her own Class B records, then placed third at the nationals in the 100, posting a New England-best time of 11.45 (wind-aided). Hall also became the first New England schoolgirl to break 24 seconds in the 200 (23.98), also at the nationals.
Brendan McCarthy, a senior at perennial tennis power Falmouth, lost only 11 games in his five matches on his way to winning the state singles championship. He also helped undefeated Falmouth win the Class A state title.
Olivia Leavitt, a senior at Falmouth, helped the Yachtsmen win the Class A championship, completing a rare feat – Falmouth never lost a match during her high school career. She captured her second consecutive state singles championship by winning a three-set, three-hour duel against Maisie Silverman of Brunswick, rallying from a set down.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: