2012-13 Winter Male Athlete of the Year:

RYDER BENNELL, Sophomore—Alpine skiing


· Class C state champion, GS

· WMC Alpine All-Star

· State team qualifier

The latest in a long line of Freeport downhill ski standouts, Bennell was a top competitor and sportsman who achieved his goal of winning a state title this winter, one which probably won’t be his last.

Bennell grew up in Freeport and took to skiing early. He’s devoted countless hours to training, both at Sugarloaf and in the offseason. While he also plays soccer and tennis, the slopes are where Bennell sparkles. After enjoying plenty of success in middle school, Bennell came to Freeport as a freshman, where he came in runner-up at states in the slalom.

Bennell entered his sophomore year with the goal of winning a state title, but it wouldn’t come in the slalom, an event which he says he more consistent. After coming in seventh in the giant slalom and 11th in the slalom at the conference meet, Bennell rose to the occasion at states, taking the GS with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 27.75 seconds, holding off teammate Blake Enrico in the process. Bennell also came in fifth in the slalom as Freeport was second to Fort Kent as a team.

“I love the feeling I get when I ski,” said Bennell. “It’s like nothing else.”

Through it all, Bennell impressed with his work ethic.

“Ryder is very focused during practice,” said Freeport Alpine coach Jay Thomas. “He is able to attack training courses with intensity. He is open to feedback from the coaching staff and willing to make adjustments where needed. At our weekly races, Ryder has learned to have confidence in both his ability and his equipment to push his performance to the limit. He is lucky to have a couple of teammates that are at his level of performance and they spent the season trading top finishes for the team. It was a healthy competitive arrangement.”

Bennell also belongs to Freeport’s Math Team, Interact Club, Gay-Straight Alliance and plays the tenor sax in the jazz band. He wants to add a slalom championship (and repeat in the GS) next year, lead the Falcons to Alpine and combined team titles and compete in the Eastern Maine championships before he departs for college, where he hopes to continue his excellence on the slopes.

With two more years to dominate, Bennell will remain at the top of the list of the state’s Alpine stars. He’s only going to get better. That’s a thought that has to petrify the opposition.

Coach Jay Thomas’ comment: “Ryder is a gifted athlete. While many of his peers have spent years in weekend race training programs, Ryder has spent his ski time doing what he loves to do, all-mountain skiing with family and friends. Ryder is one of the most pleasant athletes that I have ever coached. He is respectful of others and sets the bar high in terms of his sportsmanship. I can count on the same positive and cheerful response whether he finishes in the top 10 or if he does not finish at all. I see Ryder with a bright future on the team as a leader.h

2011-12 winner: Taylor Saucier (Indoor track)

2010-11 winner: Ryan Collet (Skiing)

2009-10 winner: Ryan Collet (Skiing)

2008-09 winner: Jon Klages (Basketball)

2007-08 winner: Reid Christian (Basketball)

2006-07 winner: Danny Mehler (Basketball)

2005-06 winner: Nate Fuller (Skiing)

2004-05 winner: Dan Sandberg (Skiing)

2003-04 winner: Kegan Pettit (Hockey)

2002-03 winner: Frank Roy (Skiing)

2001-02 winner: Griff Leach (Skiing)

2012-13 Winter Female Athlete of the Year:

NINA DAVENPORT—Junior, Basketball


· WMC Class B all-star, first-team

The statistical leader and clutch time performer for the best Freeport team in at least a decade, Davenport helped the Falcons make history this winter.

Davenport grew up in Freeport, started playing basketball in the second grade and began taking it seriously in middle school. She was good enough to see playing time as a freshman at McAuley, as the Lions went on to win the Class A championship, but she missed her hometown and returned to Freeport as a sophomore. After a solid, all-star campaign, which saw her average 17.7 points, Davenport dazzled this winter.

She had 22 points in the opener, a no-typo 66-4 win at North Yarmouth Academy, and never looked back. Davenport also had 18 points in a loss to Cape Elizabeth, 29 points and 11 rebounds versus Wells, 24 and 10 in a close loss to York, 15 points (including the go-ahead hoop) in a one-point win over Falmouth, 22 versus Fryeburg, 18 against Greely, 23 points and eight rebounds in a first-this-century win over Lake Region, 22 points and nine boards in a loss at Wells, 26 and 12 against Poland, a season-high 31 and 15 versus Yarmouth, 28 and 10 against Fryeburg and 18 points in a home playoff game-clinching victory at Old Orchard Beach.

For the regular season, Davenport was second to Waynflete’s Martha Veroneau, aka Miss Maine Basketball, with a scoring average of 19.4 per game. She was eighth in rebounds with 8.2 and eighth in steals with 3.9.

In a preliminary round win over Maranacook, Freeport’s first Class C postseason triumph, Davenport had 12 points and seven rebounds. She closed the season with 11 points and five boards in a quarterfinal round loss to Lake Region.

Davenport also runs cross country in the fall, plays for the Maine Firecrackers AAU team, is a class officer, mentors freshmen and belongs to the Amnesty International Club. She enjoys snowmobiling in her down time during the winter and hopes to get back to the Expo and beyond as a senior. Davenport wants to play in college and is in the process of selecting a school, which will likely be in New England.

She certainly helped her team make history this winter and is poised for another great season. Nina Davenport can do it all.

Coach Jim Seavey’s comment: “Nina was our go-to player, no question. She’s a competitor and wants to win every time she’s on the floor. I thought she had a great year. She got double- and triple-teamed and still found a way to get great shots. She’s one of the most versatile players I’ve coached. She can guard anybody on defense and is an inside-out threat on offense. She was a vital piece to our puzzle.”

2011-12 winner: Elly Bengtsson (Skiing)

2010-11 winner: Elly Bengtsson (Skiing)

2009-10 winner: Adrian Baker (Indoor track)

2008-09 winner: Molly Susla (Skiing)

2007-08 winner: Adrian Baker (Indoor track)

2006-07 winner: Abby Fuller (Swimming)

2005-06 winner: Lucy Garrec (Skiing)

2004-05 winner: Logan Crane (Indoor track)

2003-04 winner: Logan Crane (Indoor track)

2002-03 winner: Jessica Harold (Skiing)

2001-02 winner: Molly Pierce (Skiing)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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