Boston High School: Abby Leonardi

New England Roundup: Maine

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
4:04
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Madison Memorial High School senior Seth Sweet has established himself as the top high school golfer in the state.

MaineSweet recently won his second straight Class C state individudal title, shooting a 2-under par 70, the lowest in any class. Last summer he was one of two Maine golfers to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur. He also finished fourth in the Maine Amateur last year and, when he was 12, he was the youngest qualifier ever for that tournament. He recently answered questions about himself and the game he loves.

Q: How did you get started in golf?

A: "My dad introduced me into the game when I was 2 years old. He brought me out to a little par three course with a plastic set of Little Tikes golf clubs. I didn’t play that often but he brought me to the golf course just enough so I could really get a liking for this game. After a while I knew there was something about this game that was special and I knew it would be able to take me places."

Q: When did you first get hooked on the game?

SWEET
SWEET
A: "I first became serious around the age of 10. I played my first tournament when I was 7 but did not realize what it took to really become an elite golfer. I started playing several tournaments when I turned 10, and began to practice a lot harder. I tried to take my game to the next level and set different levels of goals that I needed to achieve."

Q: Who have been your greatest influences in the game?

A: "My dad has definitely been the biggest influence in my game. He taught me everything I needed to know to become who I am today. He made it so I could play in every tournament I wanted to play in, and would do everything for me. My mother has also been there supporting me and always telling me that if I want it I can get it. She is always there to watch me play tournaments, and I couldn’t do it without them. My brother Zack also has been there to push me as he is a good golfer and always taught me how to act, as well as made me the best I could ever be. My swing coach has also been able to bring me to the tip top in my game and has taught me how to play this game like the pros.

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

A: "I believe my greatest accomplishment has been making the U.S. Junior Amateur in Bremerton, Washington where I played two great days to make a playoff to make the cut for match play. Unfortunately, I missed the playoff, but was the proudest to place 55th best junior in the nation. I may not have met my goal, but was very pleased with how I played."

Q: How often do you play and practice?

A: "I play every day and practice every day. In order to be the best you have to have the club in your hand acting like it is your lifeline."

Q: What do you work on?

A: "Lately I work on the short game because I am able to hit the ball on the green, but where I am going to save strokes is making the putts for birdies. I will also work on hitting the ball in different shapes, I usually hit a draw but I understand that I need to be able to hit the cut to be one of the best as well. I believe that short game is where the pros make it look easy and win the tournaments."

Q: Where will you attend school next year?

A: "I have recently just verbally committed to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia."

Q: How did this come about?

A: "I had a friend from Rhode Island who is a freshman there and had told the coach about me. He must have put in a good word for me because the next week I got a call from the coach and it eventually led to an official visit offer. I visited the campus and fell in love with it and
fell in love with the golf facilities this school has to offer."

Q: What are your short and long-term goals in the game?

A: "My short term goal for golf is to really become a better player and win my state amateur, and qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur again. My long term goals are to become a golf professional and play on the PGA tour, I do realize this will be a tough task but I am ready to make a run for it. I also want to be in a scoring spot all four years in college and be a key asset in our successful team.

Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A: "My strengths are definitely being able to drive the ball, chip the ball and putt the ball. I hit the ball about 290 yards down the middle and my short game has grown incredibly and improved greatly. I also am able to keep a great state of mind while playing golf which is to my advantage. I believe my weakness is paying too much attention to other people, I shouldn’t watch my competitors, but I do and get caught up in their game a little too much."

Q: Who is your favorite pro golfer and why?

A: "My favorite player used to be Tiger Woods because I idolized his work ethic, he won his tournaments by out-working his competitors and there was no question that he did every week. I also loved watching how he worked on the golf course he made himself expect the best of the competitors so he would not be surprised when they hit a good shot. My new favorite player is Bubba Watson, I enjoy how he hits the ball so long and is changing the game with his stride in great length. I also like how he has fun while he is playing and is very personable while he is playing. It is truly an awesome thing for him to be able to enjoy the game the way he does."

Q: What other activities or sports do you enjoy?

A: "I enjoy playing basketball with a passion; it is a very fun game for me and keeps me in shape during my long winter up in Maine. I enjoy running, and weight lifting as it keeps me in shape and I enjoy doing that every day."

Q: What are your plans for the summer before college?

A: "I plan on playing in 5-10 golf tournaments and practice my short game and the little details golf demands you to do. I am going to play in the big tournaments in the state and going to qualify for some USGA events. I just want to keep my competitive edge and make my game in fine tune for the fall college season."

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New England Roundup: Maine

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
2:04
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Paula Doughty is in her 31st year as field hockey coach at Skowhegan Area High School. She’s posted a career record of 414 wins, 80 losses and 17 ties and her teams have captured 12 Class A state championships, including last year’s. Prior to losing in the state final in 2009, the Indians had reeled off eight state titles in a row.

MaineDoughty was named National Field Hockey High School Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2008 and more than 80 of her players have gone on to play in college. One of her players has been a first-team national All-American while two have made second team All-American and 22 have been regional All Americans.

Q: How did you get into coaching?

A: "I was in college from ‘70-74 and I officiated. I graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington and student taught in Skowhegan. In August they called me and said there was a job opening and they also needed a field hockey coach. I played in high school and I officiated so I had quite a lot of experience and I knew the game."

Q: What attracts you to the sport?

A: "It’s evolved into a really fast, fabulous sport. It’s just become better and better. First we lost the offsides, advancing became incidental and the obstruction rule is lenient today. In field hockey it takes years to develop the stickwork to be able to play. I also like it, and this sounds sexist, because it’s a women’s sport in the United States."

Q: When did Skowhegan turn the corner?

A: "Probably in the late ‘80’s. We were really good in the ‘70s, then soccer came in. I was really hurting for athletes. All the athletes went to soccer but then it balanced out."

Q: How has the program stayed so strong?

A: "I work very hard. I have three of our four coaches who have worked with me forever. I would say a shared coaching philosophy and consistency. We do the same thing K through 12 and I work with everybody K to 12."

Q: How big is the youth program?

A: "It’s growing, but it’s growing statewide, it’s not just us. Today we had a tournament for fourth, fifth and sixth graders and there were 12 teams here and every town brought 30 kids. One thing about field hockey in Maine, there’s a lot of opportunities and we can compete. It’s hard for Maine kids to compete in a lot of things but in field hockey we’re doing really well. A lot of kids feel entitled but Maine kids aren’t like that. They work really hard."

Q: How many of your players have played in college?

A: "We’ve had about 80 kids play in college. My first player was Kim Jewell Bodwell in ‘78 and she played at the University of Maine. Our first Division I player was Wendy Obert in 1989 and she played at Northeastern. Right now, we have nine (playing in college) and we have three seniors who are going D-1 next year."

Q: How has the game changed?

A: "It’s changed in every way. It’s faster, it’s more skilled. The amount of penalties are nothing what they used to be. You’ve got to be very, very skilled. It’s fun to watch. Today the game is a turf game. We play on turf as much as we can. It’s no longer a grass game. We practice in the gym a lot. Our field is as close to turf as you can get, but it’s still grass."

Q: How is this year’s team?

A: "It’s a great team. The last 14 years have been great teams. The kids I have now are much more versatile. Even five or 10 years ago, they were one-dimensional ... Most of my kids I can put in any position. Messalonskee is very good. They’re going to be our biggest competition in the state. It’s too bad we’re both in Eastern Maine. But in sports you can’t take anybody for granted."

Q: How long do you want to coach?

A: "I’ll coach as long as I think I can. I’ll retire from teaching in a while but I’ll keep coaching. I’m smart enough to know if I’m not as good as I was."

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The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Nadia Eke of Holy Name Central Catholic High School as its 2010-11 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Eke is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Holy Name Central Catholic High School.

The 5-foot-10 senior won the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 11.25 inches and the triple jump, soaring 41 feet, six inches, at the All-State Meet this spring. At the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championships this spring, Eke finished first in the long jump, with an effort of 18 feet, 1.75 inches, and the triple jump, landing a meet-record distance of 41 feet, 9.5 inches, which ranked as the nation’s No. 2 performance in 2011 at the time of her selection. She won the triple jump at the New England championships in three consecutive years.

Also a basketball standout, Eke has maintained an A average in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society and her school’s yearbook committee, she has volunteered on behalf of an anti-bullying campaign, the American Red Cross and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“Nadia is a very hard-worker who does not settle on past performances,” said Holy Name Central Catholic High Head Coach Craig Derrell. “She is always seeking ways to improve herself, setting goals and achieving them. She has done this while being very humble and an honor student.”

Eke will attend Columbia University this fall, where she will compete in track and field.

Eke joins recent Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Deanna Latham (2010, Triton Regional) and Emily Jones (2008-09, Bromfield) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Below are the winners from the five other New England states:

CONNECTICUT: PRECIOUS HOLMES, HILLHOUSE

The 5-foot-4 sophomore captured three individual state championships this spring and led the Academics to the State Open title as a team. A returning Class M All-State selection as named by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, Holmes won the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.03 seconds and broke the tape in the 200-meter dash in 24.58. She also finished first in the 400-meter dash with a meet-record time of 53.16 seconds, which ranked as the nation’s No. 3 performance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection.

At the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Holmes placed first in the 100-meter dash in 12.29 and the 400-meter dash in 55.42. She also won both the 200- and 400-meter dash events at the 2010 New England championships as a freshman. At this month’s New Balance Outdoor Nationals she ran the third leg of the second-place sprint medley relay quartet that finished in 3:59.87, and she placed second in the 400-meter dash in 53.26.

Also a cross country standout, Holmes has maintained a 3.14 GPA in the classroom at New Haven Academy, where she attends high school and which does not offer a track program. She has donated her time as a youth track instructor in addition to annually volunteering on behalf of her track club at a road race in New Haven.

“People always talk about once-in-a-lifetime athletes who really aren’t that,” said Hillhouse High Head Coach Gary Moore. “Precious is the first athlete that I’m able to really say I’ll coach once in my lifetime. She’s absolutely incredible. People are shocked and amazed to see a 400-meter runner that’s also so good at cross country. It’s all about attitude. She puts 100 percent into everything she does, and she does the best that she can do with the ability she has. Her work ethic has been absolutely phenomenal. She’s the total package of what a coach looks for.”

Holmes will begin her junior year of high school this fall.

Holmes joins recent Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Lindsay Crevoiserat (2010, Glastonbury), Meg Ryan (09, Fairfield Warde), and Anna Shields (2008, Lewis Mills) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Holmes is the second Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Hillhouse High School, joining Shaniqua Burgess (2006-07).

RHODE ISLAND: ALEIDA FERNANDES, CENTRAL FALLS

The 5-foot-9 senior thrower won the shot put and the discus at the All-State Meet this spring for a second consecutive year. The three-time All-American launched the shot put 39 feet and the discus 121 feet, 5 inches. Fernandes also won a silver medal in the hammer throw with a toss of 158-10 which ranked as the No. 7 distance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection. The two-time Field MVP at the All-State Meet placed fifth in the hammer throw at this month’s New Balance Nationals and concluded her prep career with 10 state titles.

Fernandes has maintained a B average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally with literacy-outreach programs and as a youth track coach.

Fernandes has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Southern Connecticut State University beginning this fall.

Fernandes joins recent Gatorade Rhode Island Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Molly Reilly (2010, South Kingstown), Eryn Wheeler (2009, Coventry), and Victoria Flowers (2008, Classical) among the state’s list of former award winners.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: KRISTA VINCENT, SOMERSWORTH

The 5-foot-5 senior won the javelin throw at the Division I meet, the all-state Meet of Champions and the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championship Meet this spring. Vincent’s season-best throw of 140 feet, 8 inches ranked as the nation’s No. 39 distance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection. She won the javelin at the Class I state meet in 2009 and 2010 and placed 11th in the event at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in 2010.

Vincent has maintained a 3.07 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally at the Somersworth Pumpkin Fest and as a middle school track and field coach.

Vincent has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at East Carolina University beginning this fall.

Vincent joins recent Gatorade New Hampshire Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Arianna Vailas (2010, Central), Jocelyn Briggs (2009, Winnacunnet), and Anna Cioffredi (2008, Lebanon) among the state’s list of former award winners.

MAINE: ABBY LEONARDI, KENNEBUNK

The 5-foot-1 junior won the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:55.39 and captured the 3200-meter run in 10:42.63 at the Class A state meet this spring. The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year and three-time Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Leonardi finished first in the 3200-meter run for the second consecutive season at the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a meet-record time of 10:19.09, which ranked as the nation’s No. 10 performance among prep competitors in 2011.

Leonardi set the meet records at 1600 and 3200 meters at the 2010 Class A state meet as a sophomore. She also won the 800- and 1600-meter runs at the 2009 Class A state meet as a freshman. Only one other athlete nationwide—Sacred Heart Academy (Kentucky) senior Emma Brink—has won Gatorade State Player of the Year honors six times in the award program’s 26-year history. She placed ninth in the 2-mile run in 10:29.84 at this month’s New Balance Outdoor Nationals.

Leonardi has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has donated her time to fundraising efforts on behalf of displaced civilians in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

“She’s a unique athlete,” said Kennebunk High Head Coach Geoffrey Drew. “She’s the greatest high school distance runner in Maine’s history. It’s pretty incredible to have someone on your track team like that. She’s very encouraging to other athletes, and she’s willing to run other events that she wouldn’t normally run. It’s a great example. Other kids see how hard she works in practice, and they’re like, ‘Wow.’”

Leonardi, who has now won the award a third straight year, will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

VERMONT: MOLLIE GRIBBIN, SOUTH BURLINGTON

The 5-foot-8 junior won four individual state championships this spring and led the Rebels to the Division I state title as a team. Gribbin won the 100-meter dash in 12.49 seconds, the 200-meter dash in 25.81, the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 5.5 inches and the triple jump (39-10). A 14-time state champion, she is the state record-holder in the 100, long jump, triple jump and indoor 55-meter dash, in addition to owning a share of state records in the 4x100-meter relay and the indoor 4x200-meter relay. Her season-best, state-record triple jump of 39-11.5 ranked as the nation’s No. 13 distance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection.

Gribbin has maintained a 3.90 GPA in the classroom. A member of her church youth group, she has volunteered locally as a youth track coach.

“Mollie is by far an elite athlete and beyond any others I have coached,” said South Burlington head coach Nicole Colantoni. “She is an athlete in every sense of the word. She is so humble that she still doesn’t realize how good she is and what she can accomplish.”

Gribbin will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

Gribbin joins recent Gatorade Vermont Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Hannah Rowe (2009-10, St. Johnsbury Academy) and Sarah Sherman (2008, Essex) among the state’s list of former award winners.

New England Roundup: Maine

October, 7, 2010
10/07/10
12:13
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Two more teams were knocked form the ranks of the unbeaten in Week 5 of high school football. Thornton Academy of Saco had outscored its Class A opponents 201-13 coming into its game against Deering, but the Trojans were dominated by the Rams, 35-6.

MaineDeering quarterback Jamie Ross did most of the damage, passing for 125 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 134 yards and two more scores. Deering sustained its only loss in Week 3, losing 34-12 to Bonny Eagle.

In a Class C battle of unbeatens, Yarmouth’s Bryce Snyder kicked a 28-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to lift the Clippers to a 16-14 victory over Lisbon. Yarmouth, which has only had varsity football for five years, was led by Anders Overhaug who rushed for 169 yards on 14 carries.

There are only 12 unbeaten teams left in the state, five in Class A — Cheverus, Bonny Eagle, Lawrence, Lewiston and Bangor. That number will be reduced this week when Lawrence hosts Lewiston. Unbeaten teams in Class B include Gardiner, Leavitt, Cape Elizabeth and Mountain Valley while Stearns, Winthrop and Yarmouth are all 5-0 in Class C.

Top performances:
  • Rockland’s Derek Miller scored eight touchdowns in a 66-6 rout of Dexter. Miller passed for one score, rushed for five, caught one TD pass and scored another on a punt return.
  • Cony’s Luke Dunklee threw for 158 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 205 yards and two scores in a 28-21 win against Brunswick. Duncklee has rushed for 13 touchdowns and 743 yards and passed for three scores and 653 yards.
  • Messalonskee’s Keenan Knox rushed for 176 yards and four scores in a 48-8 win over Brewer. Knox has rushed for 827 yards on the season.
  • Bonny Eagle’s Matt Rollins passed for three touchdowns and rushed for two more as the unbeaten Scots downed Massabesic, 40-20.
  • Traip Academy’s Tyler Nay rushed for 203 yards and four touchdowns as the surprising Rangers moved to 4-1 with a 34-25 victory over Livermore Falls.
  • John Bapst’s Jordan Charpentier passed for four touchdowns in the Crusaders’ 36-13 win over Foxcroft Academy.
Big games to watch for:
  • Oct. 15, Bangor at Lawrence. A potential battle of Class A unbeatens if Lawrence gets past Lewiston this week. The teams were in the same position last season when Bangor nipped Lawrence 28-21 on its way to a state title appearance.
  • Oct. 16, Bonny Eagle at Cheverus. Bonny Eagle has developed into a Class A power under oach Kevin Cooper, winning four state championships in the past six years. Cooper is assisted by his father Pete who led Lawrence to several state titles. Cheverus’ program has been resurrected under John Wolfgram, the state’s winningest coach. Wolfgram and Pete Cooper met a number of times when Wolfgram coached Gardiner to three state titles in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.
  • Oct. 22, Gardiner at Leavitt. Another potential battle of unbeaten teams in the Pine Tree Conference’s Class B division. Both are led by outstanding juniors, Gardiner by running back Alonzo Connor and Leavitt by quarterback Jordan Hersom. Leavitt is defending Class B state champ while Gardiner won the title in 2007.
  • Oct. 29, Cape Elizabeth at Mountain Valley. These teams gained a measure of statewide immortality when the film “The Rivals” was produced in 2008 documenting the rivalry between wealthy Cape Elizabeth and Rumford, the mill town where Mountain Valley is located. It was recently shown on the Smithsonian Channel. So far this season, Mountain Valley has outscored opponents 212-12 while Cape holds a 152-27 advantage.
Gardiner’s Connor sets school record
Gardiner High junior running back Alonzo Connor has packed nearly a season’s worth of statistics into his first five games. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound tailback has already rushed for 1,022 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Two weeks ago against Mount Desert Island, Connor rushed for a school record 346 yards and scored five touchdowns. He also scored five times the previous week in a week against Waterville.

Against MDI, Connor pulled off one of the most memorable runs in school history. With Gardiner at the MDI 35 and a second left in the half, quarterback Spencer Allen threw a screen to Connor who headed down the left sideline. He ran into a pack of defenders near the 20-yard line and reversed fields, circling back 15 yards to pick up blocks. With all 11 defenders in pursuit, he weaved his way through traffic, took a hit near the goal line and scored. The run brought the Tigers in a 21-all tie and
changed the momentum of the game.

“That’s the best play I’ve ever seen,” Gardiner coach Jim Palmer said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Football Top 10
1. Bonny Eagle
2. Cheverus
3. Bangor
4. Lawrence
5. Lewiston
6. Mountain Valley
7. Deering
8. Leavitt
9. Scarborough
10. Cape Elizabeth

Leonardi's big day
Kennebunk High School junior Abbey Leonardi won the annual Festival of Champions cross country race in Belfast on Saturday.

The race attracted over 100 boys and girls teams and nearly 1,300 runners. Leonardi finished the 5K course in 17 minutes, 58 seconds while Madison junior Matt McClintock won the boys race in 16:06. Leonardi has long been considered one of New England’s top distance runners. She won the New England high school cross country race her freshman year and last spring as a sophomore set state records in the 1,600 (4:51) and 3,200 (10:42) meter runs. She followed by winning the New England 3,200 in 10:26. She closed her sophomore year by placing fourth in the 3,200 in the New Balance Nationals, also in 10:26. The 5-foot-1, 16-year-old placed second last year in the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals and 22nd in the national race.

Scarborough won the boys' team title at the Festival while Cheverus captured the girls' title. In the latest girls' coaches poll, Cheverus is ranked first with Cape Elizabeth second. In the boys poll, it’s Gorham followed by Falmouth.

Boys' soccer Top 10
1. Bangor
2. Scarborough
3. Yarmouth
4. Portland
5. Ellsworth
6. Brunswick
7. Cape Elizabeth
8. Gorham
9. Maranacook
10. Camden Hills

Girls' soccer Top 10
1. Brunswick
2. Scarborough
3. Yarmouth
4. Bangor
5. York
6. Cheverus
7. Hampden
8. Waterville
9. Thornton
10. St. Dominic

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