K.C. Johnson recalls the time and date — March 2, 2:05 p.m. — but not much else that happened the day the roof of the Kennebec Ice Arena collapsed late last winter.

“I can’t remember,” Johnson said. “I was too worried about the other people in the building.”

Within a couple of hours traffic on the Whiten Road, spanning Augusta to Hallowell, was jammed with onlookers, not quite believing what they saw. The weight of snow on the roof of the 38-year-old structure apparently brought about the collapse.

Johnson, who is rink manager, was one of three people in the building at the time. He estimates the initial collapse took three to four minutes.

“It came down to a level about six feet above the ice,” he said of the roof. “Then in the next hour it finished.”

The ice arena, or KIA as its known throughout the state, served thousands of hockey players and figure skaters throughout its existence and was home to high school teams form Augusta and Gardiner. In an eventful sports year, the building’s collapse is the Kennebec Journal’s No. 1 sports story of 2011.

Johnson said, almost immediately, he began hearing from those who skated the previous week to others who remember KIA when it opened.

“There was a lot of positive feedback,” Johnson said. “The rink touched a lot of people’s lives, generations of families.”

Before debris on the site was cleared away, owner Peter Prescott vowed to rebuild. An announcement of his plans is expected within a few weeks. In the interim, youth and adult league play, as well as high school teams from Cony and Gardiner, have relocated to Bonnefond Ice Arena on the campus of Kents Hill School (Gardiner practices at Kents Hill but is playing all of its games on the road). Not everyone moved, however.

“Some of them coughed it up this year and hoped we rebuild right away,” Johnson said. “The same for our public skaters. It’s amazing to think some people took a year off.”

With the Kents Hill rink serving three high schools and several youth organizations as well as its own teams, it’s only a short-term solution.

“I think Kents Hill’s a good fit right now,” Johnson said. “When (the KIA building plans) get ramped up, you’re going to see a lot more interest.”

2. Ryan Gay wins 3rd Maine Amateur

Pittston native Ryan Gay parred the final hole at Portland Country Club to successfully defend his Maine Amateur title. Gay edged close friend Jason Harris by one-stroke. Fellow Augusta Country Club member Jason Gall finished third.

It was the third Maine Amateur title for the 20-year-old Gay who also won in 2008 and 2010. He finished the three-day tournament at 1-under 209.

“This one’s awesome,” Gay said following his round. “You haven’t won a Maine Amateur until you’ve won at Portland.”

A Gardiner Area High School graduate, Gay has won three Class A schoolboy championships. A month after winning the Amateur, Gay captured the Maine State Golf Association’s Match Play championship, featuring 32 of the state’s top golfers, on his home course at Augusta.

Gay is currently a junior attending the University of New Mexico on a golf scholarship. He’s set a goal of winning five Maine Amateur titles before he hopes to turn pro.

3. Hall-Dale girls basketball wins state title

Hall-Dale won its third Class C state title and first since 1986 with a 54-38 victory over Washington Academy at the Bangor Auditorium in early March.

Carylanne Wolfington and Taylor Massey combined to score 38 points to lead the Bulldogs, who finished the season 21-1.

Wolfington had 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and four steals. She tied a Class C record with four 3-pointer. Hall-Dale tied a team record with six 3-pointers.

“We constantly harp on defense and rebounds,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said after the game. “The girls go after it so hard on defense. We’re 100 percent, all the time, and we did it again tonight.”

Hall-Dale led just 16-10 in the early going when Massey headed to the bench with her second found. Washington stormed back and pulled within 18-15 with 3:38 to play in the half.

Massey returned to the floor at that point, and Washington didn’t score again in the half. The Bulldogs took a 28-15 lead into the locker room and cruised from there.

4. Johnny Clark wins another PASS North title

Clark, of Farmingdale, won his fourth consecutive and sixth overall Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model points championship. And he did it in dominating fashion. Clark won seven of the 14 PASS North races, coming up one victory shy of setting a single-season record.

Furthermore, Clark finished outside the top five in just one race.

Clark trailed Turner native Ben Rowe by 15 points in the standings when the series headed to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on July 9. Rowe was docked 25 points for a deck lid infraction during post-race inspection and Clark left the Scarborough track with a 15-point lead and never looked back.

He won the next three points races to easily win the title.

“It’s one thing to be good and to have the speed. But not only did we have that, you have to have luck. I’m a true believer you have to make your own luck and it starts in the shop. We had a phenomenal year. It might be the best season anyone has had in PASS North. To win this many races in this day and age, I don’t know.”

5. Julie Veilleux named Colby coach

Former Cony High School and University of Maine star Julie Veilleux was named the 11th head coach of the women’s basketball team at Colby College.

At Cony, Veilleux scored over 1,000 points in her career and led the Rams to a Class A state championship. She continued that success at Maine where she helped the Black Bears to a Division I tournament appearance in 2004 and two America East regular season titles.

Veilleux was an assistant coach at Bowdoin College under Stefanie Pemper from 2005-08 when the Polar Bears made the NCAA tournament three straight years. When Pemper was named head coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, her first hire was Veilleux as an assistant coach.

Veilleux took over a team at Colby that won 46 games over the past two seasons and made two straight trips to the NCAA Division III tournament. The Mules are currently 6-1 and ranked 14th in the nation.

6. Football teams switch classes

A Maine Principals’ Association committee tabled a move to adopt a four-class system for high school football in late 2010. In 2011, several teams switched classes that changed the landscape of the sport.

Most notably, Winslow dropped from Class B to C and joined the Campbell Conference.

Winslow, Telstar and Poland joined the Campbell Conference, replacing Jay, Livermore and the Madison/Carrabec co-operative team.

Jay and Livermore combined to form Spruce Mountain High School and moved to Western B. Madison/Carrabec joined Pine Tree Conference Class B.

7. Gardiner hires Burgess as football coach

It was a whirlwind summer for the Gardiner football program.

First, coach Jim Palmer resigned in the spring to become the athletic director at Oak Hill High School.

After weeks spent collecting resumes and conducting interviews, the school announced on June 17 that Rick Lovely would be its next football coach. However, Lovely stepped down about a week later, citing health concerns.

The search was re-opened and, finally, on July 8, school officials announced Matt Burgess would coach the team in the fall. Burgess, an Old Orchard Beach resident, graduated from Gardiner in 1987. He played under former coaches John Wolfgram and Rob Munzing, winning a state championship in 1985.

Gardiner finished 7-3 and reached the PTC B semifinals.

8. Josh Jones traded to Maine Red Claws

Shortly after his selection in the NBA Developmental League draft, former Erskine Academy and Husson University basketball standout Josh Jones learned he was traded to the Portland-based Maine Red Claws.

Jones was one of 30 players out of a group of nearly 500 who signed a D-League contract after attending a two-day national tryout in August.

A Jefferson native, Jones was cut by the Red Claws just before the start of the regular season and was placed in a D-League player pool, eligible to get picked up by another team.

The 6-foot-4 Jones played small forward at Husson for two years.

Last season he averaged 19.2 points and 11.4 rebounds a game to help the Eagles to a 21-7 record and a berth in the Division III national tournament. He was named North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year as well as being named Player of the Year by the Maine Men’s Basketball Coaches and Writers Association. He helped Erskine to a Class B state championship in 2004.

9. Richmond girls enjoys successful run

Essentially the same group of female athletes from Richmond High School played for three state championships this year. The Bobcats came up short against Washburn in the basketball final and failed in their bid to repeat as softball champs. But they won their second straight Class D soccer championship, defeating Van Buren 4-2.

The championship was the eighth overall for the Bobcats who finished at 15-1-0 . Senior Danica Hurley, who scored her 100th career goal in the playoffs, scored twice in the championship game. Taylor Clapp and Noell Acord also scored for Richmond.

Hurley was one of four seniors on the team along with goalie Lindsy Hoopingarner and defenders Katie Webster and Leandra Martin. When those four began playing for Richmond as freshmen, the future of the team was in doubt.

“We had something like 12 or 13 players,” Hoopingarner said. “We went from a .500 season to winning state titles.”

Many of the team members are playing for the basketball team which is currently 4-0.

10. Augusta Legion finishes second at state tournament

After winning 20 games in a row during the regular season, the Augusta American Legion baseball team fell a game shy of winning the state championship.

Augusta appeared to be in the driver’s seat after finishing unbeaten in the first three games. But lack of pitching depth caught up to the team as it lost two in a row, including the championship game, 15-6, to Gayton Post of Lewiston/Auburn.

Augusta collected 59 runs on 57 hits through the first four games but only had five in the final, including a pair of homers from Corey Lapierre. Augusta led 6-1 in the sixth inning with ace Ryan Minoty on the mound. But Minoty, who threw 362 pitches in five days, finally ran out of gas.

Minoty, Luke Duncklee, Lapierre, Jason Burns and Nick Lucas all made the all-tournament team.

Also notable: Bond Brook Trails host 5k ski race, winter carnival, series of 5k races as the area expands . . . Gardiner graduate Forrest Chadwick turns in big year for USM baseball team, named LEC rookie of year . . . Wiscasset Raceway doesn’t run, goes into bankruptcy court . . . Monmouth’s Bill Wing elected to Maine Baseball Hall of Fame . . . UMaine -Augusta adds three sports and bolsters staff . . . Cony’s Stephen Babb wins Maine High School bowling individual title for first time in career . . . Maranacook boys win Class C outdoor track title . . . Six of the top eight cross country runners at New England meet are from Maine, including Maranacook’s Abby Mace . . . Winthrop native Jeff White wins Late Model points title at Oxford Plains Speedway . . . Monmouth cheerleading team wins Western C title . . . Cony’s Will Lundquist, Gardiner’s Dan DelGallo and Monmouth Eric Coulombe win state wrestling titles. Lundquist named Class A’s outstanding wrestler.


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