It’s the end of the year, and that makes it list time. We love lists. We love ranking people, places, things, events. If there’s more than one of something, we’ll rank âem.
In a couple of weeks, we’ll rank our top 10 sports stories of the year in the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal. Here, I’ll rank Maine’s Sportspeople of the Year. These people didn’t necessarily have the best year, but each made waves in some way.
10. Ryan Flaherty. A Deering High School graduate, Flaherty spent his second season with the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. He hit 10 home runs, and has been talked about as the Orioles second baseman of the future.
9. Matt McClintock. A sophomore at Purdue, McClintock was the Boilermakers first All-American cross country runner in 26 years. The Athens native finished 37th at the national championship meet last month.
In November, McClintock placed second at the Big Ten Conference championship meet. In August, McClintock won the 10,000-meter run at the Pan American Junior Championships in Medellin, Columbia. When he was still a student at Madison Area Memorial High School, McClintock said his goal is to one day run in the Olympics. That goal looks more realistic every time he races.
8. Neal Pratt, chairman of the Cumberland County Civic Center, and Brian Petrovek, former owner of the Portland Pirates. These two fellas were the key players in the soap opera that is the Portland Pirates’ lost season in Lewiston.
A dispute over the Pirates lease with the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland led to lawsuits and a whole bunch of posturing on both sides. Earlier this week, Petrovek sold the team to Ron Cain.
Meanwhile, the Pirates are playing this season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, in front of plenty of empty seats.
7. Brandon Berry. The first and only professional athlete to come out of tiny West Forks (population, 47, give or take a few). Berry began his professional boxing career this year, and so far, so good. Fighting at 143 pounds, Berry is 4-0 as a pro.
Berry’s first professional bout was at Skowhegan Area High School in mid-May. He won via TKO, beating Bill Jones in the fourth round.
6. Bethanie Brown. As a senior at Waterville Senior High School last spring, Brown won the state title in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 to cap one of the best distance careers by a Maine high school runner.
Then, she went and placed third in the 5,000 at the New Balance outdoor track and field national championship in Greensboro, N.C.
Brown recently completed her freshman season with the Iowa State cross country team.
5. Skowhegan Area High School field hockey team. All they do is win. In 2013, the Indians beat Scarborough for their 11th state championship in 12 years. The state championship game was Skowhegan’s 76th consecutive win, a state record.
Right now, the Skowhegan field hockey team is the gold standard in Maine high school girls sports.
4. Nick Gilpin. As long as they show highlights of the state basketball tournament, they’ll show the shot Gilpin made to win the Eastern Class A crown for Hampden Academy.
With his team trailing Lawrence by two points in the final seconds, Gilpin, a freshman at the time, heaved a 30-foot shot. It went in as the buzzer sounded, giving the Broncos a 40-39 win at the Augusta Civic Center.
Hampden went on to beat South Portland for the state title. Gilpin’s shot was one of the days top plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
3. Ben Lucas. A Cony High School senior, Lucas had the best season a Maine high school quarterback has ever had, and led the most impressive game-winning drive in state championship game history.
First, the drive. Trailing Kennebunk, 23-22, with 4:45 left in the Class B state championship game, Lucas led the Rams on a 99-yard drive, culminating with the game-winning touchdown pass to Jonathan Saban with one minute to play.
Lucas threw for 3,357 yards and 41 touchdowns this season, capping a strong career. He was named Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year and is a semifinalist for the James J. Fitzpatrick trophy, given annually to the player voted the top senior football player in the state.
2. Julia Clukey. An Augusta native, Clukey won her first luge national championship in the 2012-13 season. In June, she hosted her second summer camp for girls at the Kennebec Valley YMCA camp on Maranacook Lake. For years, Clukey has been a positive role model.
That was no more apparent than on Friday, when Clukey just missed earning a spot on the United States Olympic team for the upcoming games in Sochi, Russia. Clukey needed a top five finish at the World Cup event in Salt Lake City. She finished in sixth, less than a 10th of a second from a spot on the Olympic team.
Clukey was as gracious in defeat as she’s ever been in victory. Olympics or not, Clukey is an athlete to admire.
1. Jack Cosgrove. The University of Maine football coach for two decades, Cosgrove led the Black Bears to the Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2013. In the preseason conference coaches poll, Maine was picked to finish eighth in the league, regarded as one of the toughest leagues at the Football Championship Subdivision level.
The Black Bears went 10-3, were ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and hosted a playoff game for the first time in school history. While other coaches in his league can recruit in their back yards, Cosgrove has to convince players to go hundreds of miles from home to make a name for themselves with the Black Bears. The 2013 season will be one of the highlight’s of Cosgrove’s career.
That why, to me, Cosgrove is the 2013 Maine Sportsperson of the Year.