READFIELD — When school resumes Monday at Maranacook Community High School, a number of students will have some new hardware to show off.

February vacation opened and closed with a Black Bears championship, as the week began with the Maranacook boys ski team winning the Class B title Tuesday and ended with the girls basketball team cutting down the nets after winning the Western C title Saturday.

The girls basketball title was the first in program history, but success on the slopes is hardly anything new for Maranacook.

The Black Bears captured the Class B boys team title in 2014 and, despite graduating a number of standout skiers, they replicated their success this season.

“We definitely took some hits. We lost some great skiers last year but we knew we still had it in us,” Maranacook senior Colby Watts said. “We sort of just spent the whole season working towards it.”

That hard work certainly paid off earlier in the week, although winning the title was not easy — particularly for the Nordic team.

Conditions for Monday’s races at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle were far from ideal, as howling winds forced competitors to deal with both frigid temperatures and blowing snow. The team took extra steps to limit the weather’s effects the best they could.

“The one major thing that we did that was different was to prevent wind burn and frost burn on our faces we put some tape on our cheeks and the bridge of our noses to keep (conditions) from damaging anything,” Watts said. “This is the first time I’ve had to do anything personally. It actually worked really well. Everyone was really pleased with it, no one got cold really.”

According to Ethan Harriman — who held off teammate Luca DeAngelis to win the classical race that day — the team tested the athletic tape to see if it would work the night before. Harriman played a key role in helping lead the Black Bears to the title as he also placed second in the skate Tuesday. Maranacook’s performance on Day 1 proved to be enough to hold off Freeport 63-71 for the Nordic title.

The Alpine team also had their own set of challenges, with the slalom and giant slalom both being held on Tuesday with only one run for each. The Black Bears came out on top in both races to take the title 84-116 over Freeport.

“The hill isn’t the steepest so I guess there are a lot of tactics involved. You really had to think,” slalom winner Nathan Delmar said. “Also there was only on run, which makes things difficult.

“Seeing your first time you say if you’re really ahead of the game you really kind of slow down and just prepare for a nice, clean run, or if you’re behind you can kind of think of ways to clean up time. The one run was a big challenge but I guess everyone had to deal with it.”

Having talent at the top is obviously important to winning a championship, but in a sport like skiing you also need depth. Over the past few years the Black Bears have done that through developing a positive culture both on and off the slopes.

“It’s just a matter of somewhere down the line we got some good people with some good experience. We have a good, nurturing atmosphere,” Watts said. “The older kids take the younger ones under their wing and you keep developing.”

There is also a little bit of chance involved as well, like picking up someone like junior Zach Lacasse. Despite it being his first season of competitive skiing, Lacasse grabbed a key 10th place finish for the Black Bears in the slalom.

“I decided to come out just because I’ve always skied and I love skiing and I’ve never really raced,” Lacasse said. “I just decided to try it and I’m glad I did.”

The boys team was not the only one to enjoy success this season though, as the girls team placed second in Class B to Yarmouth. Erin Guilmet — who won the slalom and was fourth in the giant slalom at states — echoed her teammates sentiments as to why the Black Bears have been so successful.

“My team is so supportive of each other. I’ve never been on a sports team that is so kind and caring,” she said. “We really care for each other and I think that’s what makes us so successful.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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