Winter Previews: Gorham

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Alpine Skiing
Coach: Sean Munkacsi
Key athletes: Jacob Polchies, Sam Cousins, Nolan McCullough, Sarah Baxter, Maggie Munkacsi, Estelle Ballard, Clair Munkacski
Outlook: Munkacsi is eager to hit the slopes; no doubt his kids are too. Happily, they’ll soon get their chance: “The early snow and cold temps will allow us to get a substantial head-start training on snow at Shawnee Peak,” he says. “That in conjunction with intensive dryland training will help racers come into the start of the season strong, flexible and focused.” On the boys’ side of things, Polchies and Cousins return as top scorers, while Nolan hopes to carry over the momentum into this season that he generated with a surge at the end of last season. “With several other younger athletes continuing to improve, the boys side has the potential to turn into a very competitive group.” Over on the girls’ side, Baxter and Maggie Munkacsi, two seniors, will lead, while Ballard and Claire Munkacsi will provide much of the outfit’s firepower. Worth noting: Bonny Eagle and Massabesic both send kids to compete alongside the Rams, something Munkacsi and crew are thankful for. Finally: Munkacsi nods as well at yet another key figure in the program: “Our ever-faithful and always reliable bus driver/assistant coach, Kenny Ficket.”

Boys Basketball
Coach: Mark Karter
Last year’s results: 7-12, fell in A South quarterfinals to Bonny Eagle
Key returners: Tyler Haines (sr., F); Tom Nelson (sr., F); Nick Strout (jr., G); Jordan Bretton (jr., G)
Key newcomers: Bode Meader (so., G); Grant Nadeau (so., G); Stephen Graham (so., C)
Key matchups: Westbrook, Windham, Bonny Eagle, Scarborough
Outlook: “This year’s outlook is interesting,” Karter says. “The League is very strong top-to-bottom, so there should be many highly contested games.” The Rams aim to ply their depth and an up-tempo pace to their advantage. “We have players that are able to hit the three-point shot, so our ability to penetrate and kick out to these players will be key for us. We will have to be able to control the ball on defense, which will have a huge bearing on our full-court pressure. If this happens we should be competitive.” Karter picks the key matchups he picks because of the energy local rivalries generate. “[Those games] always have great intensity,” he says.

Girls Basketball
Coach: Laughn Berthiaume
Last year’s results: 14-8, fell by one point to Edward Little in the AA State Final
Key returners: Mackenzie Holmes, Olivia Michaud, Adele Nadeau, Brittany Desjardin, Jacqui Hamilton, Courtney Brent
Key matchups: Greely, Scarborough, Deering, Portland, South Portland, Edward Little, Oxford Hills
Outlook: After winning two straight State titles in 2016 and 2017, Gorham slipped at the start of the ’17-’18 season. The Rams picked up steam through the second half of the stretch, however, and by the playoffs, looked like their usual, dominant selves: The team finished second in the State, falling narrowly (and somewhat controversially) in an instant-classic AA Final vs. the Red Eddies, a contest that featured an all-time-great Maine high school performance by Holmes. Holmes, of course, is a three-time All-Star and a McDonald’s All-American nominee. ESPN Magazine, per Berthiaume, ranked her 53rd in the country in her college recruiting class; recently, she signed on to play DI ball at Indiana. But even Holmes can’t, by herself, be a whole team; thankfully, she’s joined on the court by several other standout talents. Michaud and Nadeau both saw regular playing time last year, despite being just freshman; they’re aces in their own right and can be expected to hash many a Gorham point this winter. Desjardin is a ferocious veteran fully capable of scoring from most anywhere. Even those girls Berthiaume is forced to hold in reserve, like Hamilton and Brent, are extremely strong, and can join the action at any time without collective missing a step. Berthiaume likes the Greely matchup as an early-season test; the Rangers won the Class A crown last year, have been outstanding for quite some time and have a friendly, interclass rivalry with the Rams. South Portland has been Gorham’s chief competitor in recent seasons, and will no doubt be a threat again this year. Still, safe money is on the Rams to delve deep into the playoffs, perhaps even to return to the throne.

Boys Hockey
Coach: Jon Portwine
Last year’s results: 9-9, lost in B South quarterfinals
Key returners: Tanner Garand (sr., F); Trevor Gray (sr., F/D); Nick Gray (sr., D); Cole Perreault (jr., F/D); Peter Richards (jr., D)
Key matchups: Greely, York, Yarmouth
Outlook: Graduation in June claimed the Rams’ top two scorers as well as their first-string netminder, but otherwise the team returns 10 seniors and a dozen players all told from last year’s varsity lineup. “Offense will need to come from a variety of new players this season,” Portwine says, “and finding a capable [replacement goalie] will be a top priority early.” Still, those hurdles aside, “the Rams should be a strong playoff team and could contend for the Class B South title.” Gorham fans should be optimistic: Any team that features double-digit seniors, puts in ample hard work and has a share of talent to begin with is well-positioned to win games.

Girls Hockey
Coach: Nat Germond
Last year’s results: 0-18
Key returners: Isis Adams (sr., D); Anna Rathbun (sr., F); CC Cochran (sr., D); Anna Nault (jr., D); Izzy Wareham (jr., G); Molly Rathbun (so., F)
Key newcomers: Brooke Guimond (fr., F)
Key matchups: Mt. Ararat, Biddeford, Yarmouth, Brunswick
Outlook: The Gorham/Bonny Eagle co-op program hopes to return to the playoffs this season, and they might just have a respectable shot at doing so. The team features a heaping group of veterans with two or three years of experience apiece; moreover, Adams returns after missing the 2017-18 stretch with a torn ACL. Cochran and Nault are strong defenders and Wareham brings three years as a starter to the post of goalie. The team began their winter at 1-1 – a decent start they intend to improve on.

Boys Indoor Track
Coach: Jason Tanguay (10th year)
Last year’s results: 7th at SMAAs, 12th at Class A States
Key returners: Simon Roussel (sr., jumps); Ryan Farr (jr., sprints/jumps); Kyle Ouillette (jr., shot put); Isaac Rollins (jr., sprints); Tyler Rollins (jr., sprints); Andrew Tinkham (jr., distance); Aidan Bell (so., sprints/jumps); Reed Henderson (so., distance)
Key newcomers: Josh Lehmann (so., distance); Andrew Farr (fr., sprints); Calvin Cummings (fr., distance); Landon Bickford (fr., sprints)
Key meets: SMAAs
Outlook: “Gorham graduated some talented seniors from last season,” Tanguay says, “but the team this year has added many athletes. If these new additions can make positive progress this season, then our team could be competitive in the league meets. It should be exciting to watch the development of this crew.”

Girls Indoor Track
Coach: John Caterina (18th year)
Last year’s results: 3rd at SMAAs, 3rd at Class A States
Key returners: Lauren Barden (sr., pole vault); Avery Germond (sr., sprints); Evelyn Kitchen (sr., jumps); Lydia Drew (jr., sprints); Iris Kitchen (jr., middle distance); Peyton Morton (jr., sprints); Kate Tugman, (jr., distance); Quinn Young (jr., jumps); Nevaeh Moore (so., sprints)
Key newcomers: Alyvia Caruso (fr., hurdles); Sydney Connolly (fr., sprints); Emma Green (fr., jumps)
Key meets: SMAAs
Outlook: The Rams welcome back a number of central players from their 2017, 3rd-ranked lineup—namely, Evelyn and Iris Kitchen, Tugman and Barden. Those girls’ fellow upperclassmen are talented too, and should tally quite a few additional points for the team. The underclass contingent rounds out a strong crew, one that could well be an SMAA and Class A contender this winter.

Swimming
Coach: 
Adam Cyr
Last year’s results: Girls third at Southwesterns, 11th at States
Key athletes lost: Max Harvey, Babou Gatete, Nate Smith, Sierra Lumbert, Saoirse Herlihy
Key returners: Patrick Bishop, Sam Prichard, Cody Smith, Caelyn Smith, Laura Bolduc, Haley McCullough, Kasey Jiang, Ava Pitman
Kew newcomers: Evan Russo, Caroline Bishop, Allison Bishop
Key matchups: Boys Westbrook, Sanford, Portland; girls Westbrook, Kennebunk, Cheverus
Outlook: The Gorham boys squad has tripled in size in the past couple seasons. “We are now at a point, both size- and talent-wise, to be challenging each team we swim against and looking to win a few meets,” Cyr says of the Gentlmen Rams. “Evan Russo is going to be breaking records on day one and it will be truly amazing to see. We’re going to be looking to continue our trend of finishing better at both Southwesterns and States. Overall, I see the boys taking another big step towards our goals of being a yearly contender.” Over on the girls’ side of things, “This year is shaping up to be another strong year,” Cyr says. “We’re returning four of our top five point-scorers and adding a very big and quite talented freshman class. We’ll look to win or be very close in every single meet we have this season. At Southwesterns we are going for our third straight top-three finish as a team, and we are eyeing three or four team records to break this season. I think overall we are a more talented, deeper team this year and we’re excited about our prospects.”

Wrestling
Gorham’s wrestling contingent competes alongside Westbrook’s; see the Westbrook preview.

Cheering coach Julie Dvilinsky couldn’t be reached.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

Anna Nault returns for the Gorham/Bonny Eagle/Massabesic team this winter.

Jordan Bretton returns for the Gorham boys this winter.

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