Boston High School: Lincoln Academy

New England Roundup: Maine

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
12:53
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Abbey Leonardi concluded her stellar high school running career last Saturday with a pair of wins at the State Class A track and field championships. The Kennebunk senior won the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races despite missing a month of training this spring with a strained tendon in her leg.

MaineLeonardi finished the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 56.87 seconds, a little more than five seconds off her state record pace in 2010. She caught Lawrence’s Erzsebet Nagy on the final lap and held her off down the stretch.

“I missed more than a month of training," Leonardi said, "so it was just more about being mentally tough."

Leonardi won 3,200 later in the meet in 10:45.49, again a few seconds off the state record she set in 2010. In four years, Leonardi has posted four cross country individual championships and 12 outdoor track titles. She holds state records in 1,600, mile, 3,000, 3,200 and the two mile.

She is widely considered Maine’s best female high school runner since Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics. This year Leonardi finished fourth in the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals, setting a PR of 17:35.30 in the 5,000 meter event.

“What we’ve tried to do is not go too crazy with her in high school and chase every big meet,” her father Jack said.

Abbey will attend the University of Oregon next fall on a running scholarship and will step on campus with plenty of gas left in her tank. She hasn’t run indoor track in high school nor has she over-trained.

“I actually think she can get a lot better,” her dad said. “We’ve tried not to stress her too much. I think Abbey’s at the low end of the top kids in high school in terms of mileage.”

Her dad got her started in running and said he got up to speed in training methods as she progressed. He credits middle school coach Mike LeBlanc as an important influence. As she’s grown older, Leonardi has trained with Kristen Barry, a former 2:40 marathon runner and Falmouth’s Sheri Piers, the top American female finisher in this year’s Boston marathon.

“She definitely has some physical talent but she works as hard as anybody at it,” jack Leonardi said of his daughter. “She’s really methodical about what she does. She’s pretty educated about what she’s doing.”

Leonardi won’t complete in this weekend’s New England meet in Saco, but will follow a training regimen to get her ready for cross country season next fall. Her only appearance in the new England cross country meet was her freshman year when she finished first. Oregon is one of the country’s strongest track and cross country school. Last fall, the Ducks placed fifth in the NCAA cross country meet and return five of their top seven runners.

“She had lots of opportunities (to attend other schools),” Jack said, “but she definitely is choosing to jump into the big pond. If she didn’t give the biggest stage a chance, she wished she would have.”

Leonardi, who has a twin sister, is a straight A student who also loves to cook.

“She’ll probably end up studying business and hope to apply that in some food area,” her father said.

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New England Roundup: Maine

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
4:04
PM ET
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

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
1:36
PM ET
After flirting with playing baseball and football at a couple of Division I colleges, Cony High School’s Luke Duncklee has decided to play both sports at Division III Colby College in Waterville.

MaineDuncklee was recruited by the University of Maine and guaranteed a roster spot on its baseball team but held off on making a decision. He later applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he drew the interest of football coaches after supplying a highlight tape. But he failed to pass a physical after a faint heart murmur was discovered.

“I weighed all my options,” Duncklee said. “I had to decide what was best for me, not only athletically but academically.”

One of his options was Colby, which expressed a desire for Duncklee to attend as long as two years ago.

Duncklee has starred in both sports at Cony in Augusta throughout his high school career. He also played hockey for three years at the Capital City school. As a sophomore he helped the Rams to the Class A baseball state championship where hit a home run in Cony’s 2-1 loss to Deering. A center fielder, he was later selected to the Maine Sunday Telegram all-state first team.

“I definitely recruited Luke for a couple of years,” Colby baseball coach Dale Plummer said. “I’ve seen him play a lot of games in the last few years. Obviously, he’s one of the best players we can get here.”

Duncklee became more interested in football after he was shifted to quarterback his junior year. Prior to that he played receiver and defensive back. Once he moved the quarterback, the Rams employed his ability to both throw and run. Over his final two seasons, Duncklee accounted for 50 touchdowns running and passing and nearly 5,000 yards.

His senior year, he passed for 1,440 yards and rushed for 1,147, combining for 26 touchdowns.

“Basically if I wasn’t passing I was running and if I wasn’t running I was passing,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Duncklee said. “We had a pretty wide open playbook.”

With Colby’s Nick Kmetz returning for his senior year at quarterback next fall, Duncklee will likely be a backup. He will probably gets some looks as a slot receiver or defensive back.

“I actually like it a lot,” Duncklee said of defense. “I started by sophomore year and I loved it, but it was kind of tough playing both ways.”

Duncklee played some defense last season. In fact, in a playoff game against Mt. Blue, he played offense and defense the entire game, punted and returned kicks.

He thought about playing either football or baseball at West Point. He visited the campus and watched a football game and later sent a highlight tape to the coaching staff.

“I met with the coaches when I visited there,” he said. “I was going to play. I would have been on the team.”

Duncklee may reapply to West Point and ask for a waiver. He’s known about his heart murmur for five years and said it’s never affected him.

For now, though, he’s committed to Colby and playing two sports. It’s not unprecedented. Three members of this year’s baseball team also played football.

“These guys just have a routine,” Plummer said. “You go to class, you go to practice, you study. It’s takes discipline.”

Despite its central Maine location, very few kids from the state go to Colby where admission standards are very high or play on its athletic teams.

“We’re excited about it,” Plummer said of Duncklee’s arrival. “I think Maine kids are gritty kids.”

MPA returns to two thirds rule
More high school teams will make the postseason next fall after membership of the Maine Principals’ Association voted to allow two thirds of the teams governed by sports under the Heal point scoring system to qualify for tournaments. For the past two years, 50 percent of teams qualified for postseason play.

MPA members voted for two thirds measure by about a 2-1 margin at the organization’s annual spring conference. A survey recently conducted by the MPA of member schools revealed that about two thirds of those schools favored returning to two thirds standard, The MPA also voted to retain a rule that limits non-countable or exhibition dates to five for a season along with one non-countable date between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the postseason.

Top pitching performances
  • Lincoln Academy’s Brandon Reilly struck out 21 batters to lead the unbeaten Eagles to a 4-3 win against Oak Hill in nine innings. Reilly allowed two hits and walked four.
  • Max Andrews of John Bapst fanned 11 and walked two as the Crusaders downed Old Town 13-1 in a game called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. Andrews also hit a pair of home runs and drove in five.
  • South Portland’s Andrew Richards fanned seven and didn’t walk a batters as the Red Riots downed Portland 7-0. Richards allowed just two hits and at one point retired 23 consecutive batters.
  • Waterville senior Tim Locke pitched a perfect game in a 19-0 win over Mt. View called after five innings due to the mercy rule. Locke struck out 10 for the defending Class B state champions.
Sibling batteries
Two of the top pitching and catching combinatons in the state are comprised of brothers. At Westbrook, senior left-hander Scott Heath and freshman Kyle Heath form a strong battery. Scott, who helped Westbrook to the Little League World Series six years ago, will pitch at the University of Maine next season.

At Lewiston, senior catcher McKae Hyde and his sophomore brother and catcher Corbin are another potent combination. McKae will play at Bates College next season. The teams could meet in the Class A state championship game. Westbrook is 4-0 in Western Maine while Lewiston in 5-1 in the East.

Hermon High gets donation
A $100,000 donation by UFC president Dana White to his alma mater will mean significant upgrades to the athletic complex at Hermon High School.

A multiports scoreboard/message center has already been purchased and will be located in one corner of Pottle Field. Additional seating for the football field is also been purchased and will increase the seating capacity from 550 to 800. Hermon is scheduled to field a varsity football team this fall for the first time.

White, 41, graduated form Hermon in 1987. He lives in Las Vegas where he serves as president and CEO of Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Baseball Top 10
  1. Westbrook
  2. Bangor
  3. Deering
  4. South Portland
  5. Biddeford
  6. Lewiston
  7. Waterville
  8. Cape Elizabeth
  9. Lincoln
  10. Erskine
Softball Top 10
  1. South Portland
  2. Scarborough
  3. Brewer
  4. Cony
  5. Biddeford
  6. Fryeburg
  7. Messalonskee
  8. Thornton
  9. Oak Hill
  10. Hermon

New England Roundup: Maine

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
10:17
PM ET
A snowstorm that dumped up to 12 inches of snow on many areas of the state last Friday set baseball teams back a week or 10 days, but indoor practices continue and many teams in southern Maine should be outside this weekend.

MaineThe season gets under way at the end of next week.

Here’s a look at some of the top teams in all four classes:

CLASS A
Westbrook: The Blue Blazes return several players from the team that was upset by Biddeford in the Western Maine final last season. Many of the players on this year’s team also played on a Little league World Series team five years ago. Among them is left-handed pitcher Scott Heath who will play at the University of Maine next season.

Sean Murphy, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, is also back and apparently over shoulder problems that limited his innings last season. He has verbally committed to play at St. John’s next season.

Deering: The Rams return seven seniors from last year’s playoff team, including center fielder Sam Balzano and pitcher Jamie Ross who was also the school’s quarterback. The Rams, who last won a title in 2009, have won eight out of the last 12 state championships. Former University of Maine standout and minor leaguer Mark Sutton takes over as coach.

Bangor: The Rams went undefeated during the regular season last spring before being upset by Brewer in the East A semifinals. Despite key graduation losses they return a lot of pitching, led by lefties Joe Stanevicz (8-0, 2.21 ERA) and Curtis Worcester. Catcher Dylan Morris, who hit .475 last season, also returns. Bangor also features a number of players who played for the team that reached the Senior League World Series championship game last summer.

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