Friday, March 12, 2010

National meet is his last hurdle

Stoughton hurdles runner Greg Boursiquot. Stoughton hurdles runner Greg Boursiquot.

By Justin A. Rice

Globe Correspondent / March 11, 2010

All winter, Gregory Boursiquot lagged behind his competitors out of the blocks in the 55-meter hurdle race before emphatically overtaking the field. He wasn’t drafting off his foes; the Stoughton High junior just feels more comfortable running from behind.

“When I chase somebody, that makes me faster; [it helps] to see what’s going on,’’ said Boursiquot, who finally lost his first race of the season in a preliminary heat at the All-State meet on Feb. 26 at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Fresh off his victory at the Division 2 state meet in 7.69 seconds, Boursiquot was three-tenths of a second behind his normal start in the All-State heat, a fact his coach, Harvey Blonder, subtly pointed out to his pupil before he won the final in 7.50.

“He doesn’t get totally flustered if he’s a little bit behind; I have had hurdlers start faster than Greg, but he’s the best I’ve ever had running through the middle of it,’’ Blonder said, before noting how impressed he was to see Boursiquot jump out of the gate in the final.

“He’s smart enough to know that all he had to do was get a better start and he’d be all set. The next race, he went over the first hurdle right with the field and I knew he was going to win.’’

Boursiquot has not lost since, including his victorious 7.48 clocking at the New England high school championship held last Friday at the Reggie. He will conclude the season on Sunday at the Nike Indoor National meet at the same venue. Oliver Ames sophomore Emily Grotz also qualified for nationals after winning the 1,000 at the New England championship with a time of 2 minutes, 56.40 seconds.

Boursiquot will enter the meet with the 11th-fastest time in the country; the top six finishers earn All-America status.

“I don’t expect to come close to winning anything,’’ Boursiquot said, “but every time I think that, something good happens.’’

Boursiquot was never more pessimistic than when he earned the No. 1 seed for the New England meet, seeded ahead of even Rodrigo Souza, the Old Saybrook High (Conn.) senior who ran the fastest time in the country (7.43) this winter at the Yale Invitational.

“In my head I was scared,’’ Boursiquot recalled two days after his school-record time. “In practice I tried to stay focused, but I said, ‘Coach, how am I going to beat him? He runs so fast.’

“I don’t like being the top seed because you’re expected to win. Everyone looks at you, and if you don’t win it’s like you’re not good. I was scared to warm up because I was afraid of getting cramps.’’

Ultimately Boursiquot knew there was only one solution: Beat Souza off the blocks.

That was still only half the battle: Souza led going into the final hurdle before Boursiquot eclipsed him.

“I think my start was a little bit faster than him,’’ Boursiquot said. “In the middle of the race, we were tied but at the end I came through.

“When I beat [Souza’s time] in the first round I was amped. When I won the finals, I never expected that at all. I never thought I’d beat him.”

This spring, he will focus on the 110-yard outdoor hurdles school record set by Sean Earle, a 1993 Stoughton graduate who periodically works with Boursiquot as a coach. He has already broken Earle’s mark in the 50 (6.4) with his 6.3 sprint. Rodney Julien’s 400-meter hurdle record of 58 seconds flat is also a quest.

“It would be really cool,” Boursiquot said. “That would be awesome, my name all over the place. That would be cool.”

Saturday, March 6, 2010

UMass-Lowell 76, Bentley 63: Falcons upset in NE-10 men's basketball tournament opener

``I was home last night,'' the River Hawks' junior captain said after the 76-63 victory handed Bentley its third straight home loss for the first time since the 2000-01 season. ``I drove by this morning on my way to the school, so it's great to play next to my home.''

And while Bentley has only lost four home games in the last four years, the Falcons have lost their first game in the NE-10 tournament the last two seasons.

But while No. 2-seeded Falcons (22-6) will surely be among the Division II NCAA Tournament field when it's announced on Sunday, the No. 7-seeded River Hawks (18-11) - who defeated No. 10 Assumption 91-77 to advance to last night's game - will most likely have to win the NE-10 tournament title to keep dancing.

They will play third-seeded Merrimack in Thursday's semifinals with an opportunity to play in Saturday's championship.

``This was do-or-die for us, we came in out of the NCAA Tournament so this was do-or-die for us,'' Kerman said.

The River Hawks had not won in the Dana Center since 2003. Bentley defeated Lowell 66-64 on Feb. 17 and 81-56 on Dec. 2.

``None of their players or coaches have ever beaten Bentley so you're talking about a hungry, very good team, that's been really ready to come after us,'' Bentley coach Jay Lawson said. ``And they put it on us. You gotta give them credit.''

Bentley entered the game on a two-game slide, losing to Franklin Pierce, 72-70, and Stonehill, 76-69, to close the regular season. Prior to that, the Falcons had prevailed in 61 of their previous 63 Dana Center appearances.

``That doesn't have anything to do with this game,'' said Lawson, noting that his second-best player Tom Dowling suffered a stress fracture in his foot after cracking a vertebra earlier in the season. ``We were undefeated when he's played. He tried to play, but his foot hurts too much. We've been playing all the other older players way too many minutes while he's been out all season.

``The other teams are starting to pick up that we don't have as many weapons, so it's all those dynamics - the home thing doesn't mean anything. There's only 500 people here on a good day. We've always been a good road team anyway, so I don't put any stock into that.''

Bentley fell behind, 11-4, early last night before using its long-range shooting to take control of the game. The Falcons hit three 3-pointers during a 14-0 run that gave them a 17-11 advantage with 11:32 to play in the first half.

Lowell crawled back into the game before Bentley senior guard Jason Westrol's three-point play off an emphatic left-handed dunk gave the Falcons a 22-18 edge with 9:10 left in the half.
But Lowell went on a 3-point shooting binge of its own, hitting four in a 16-4 run that put the River Hawks up 34-27 going into halftime.

``We just worked the ball around, we were patient and we got good shots,'' Kerman said.

The River Hawks' sharp shooting continued in the second half as they jumped out to a 16-point lead halfway through the half. Freshman guard Scotty Travers-Taylor (10 points) knocked down back-to-back triples before driving coast-to-coat to put Lowell up 43-34 with 15:13 to go. Then senior forward Ali Kanaan (11 points) hit a 3-pointer for Lowell.

Bentley came storming back, cutting the deficit to 55-46 as Westrol (game-high 23 points) scored the first six points of an 8-0 run in which Bentley stole the ball three times and Lowell committed a 10-second violation after a near steal.

The run was finally broken by Lowell sophomore guard Robert Walton, who finished with 12 points. He converted a three-point play with 4:29 to play, which was followed by a Westrol 3-pointer.

But Lowell got a 3-pointer from Kyle Caiola (12 points) the next time down to go back up by 10 points, 61-51. Even a hard dunk by Bentley junior forward Brian Tracy (12 points) - which made it 61-53 - was not enough to swing the momentum in the Falcons' favor.

``Maybe if we're down eight and get some steals and press (we can come back), but when you're down 16 you cut it to eight and then we're gassed,'' Lawson said.

Kerman, who finished with five points and five rebounds, came down with a rebound off a missed Bentley 3-pointer with 1:59 to play and was fouled. He split the pair to put Lowell up 66-53.

``It was a big win for us,'' Kerman said. ``I've never beaten them in my three years, and the seniors have never beaten them before, so it was a big game for us to come and play hard.

``It's a great win but we're not done yet.''

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hingham’s Lindberg leaps and bounds

By Justin A. Rice

Globe Correspondent / February 25, 2010

Waiting in line to see a show in New York City while chaperoning a trip by the Hingham High drama department, Susan Lind-berg decided to chat up the school’s track coach, Fred Jewett.

“I introduced myself and said, ‘I’ve been trying to get my son to run track, he’s really fast,’ ’’ recalled Lindberg of the conversation nearly four years ago. Coach Jewett “looked at me like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ ’’

When Dana Lindberg (right) started running as a sophomore, his mother asked Jewett: “ ‘Do you remember me? I came up to you and said my son was fast.’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, you weren’t kidding.’ No, I wasn’t kidding.’’

How fast is Lindberg? On Sunday, the Hingham High senior ran the second-fastest 55-meter dash in school history - in 6.58 seconds - to capture his first individual title at the Division 3 indoor track and field championship at the Reggie Lewis Center.

“He’s the best sprinter in Division 3 and one of the top two or three in the state,’’ said Jewett, taking note of tomorrow’s All-State meet, in which Lindberg will go head-to-head with Andover ace Christopher McConnell. “It’s going to be a real battle between the two of them in the dash.’’

McConnell beat Lindberg at the Coaches Elite meet in January in 6.43 seconds.

Lindberg not only impressed his future track coaches at Yale with his speed, but also with his leaping ability. He owns not only a school record indoors in the long jump (21 feet, 7 inches) but also outdoors (22-10).

On Sunday, however, he was disappointed to finish third in his top event with a jump of 20-7.50.

“I was going into that thinking I had both the long jump and 55 in the bag,’’ Lindberg said. “I wasn’t hitting my mark and that’s a concern in long jump, any fundamental mistake like that can throw you off. I’m not worried, I still qualified and will get a crack at it [tomorrow]; that’s more important to me.’’

The Hingham boys placed third overall, 12 points behind champion Bishop Feehan, quite a feat with just six athletes entered in the meet. The 4 x 200 team nearly fumbled the baton but managed to finish third, while Conor Thompson placed fourth in the 55 hurdles after overcoming a staph infection suffered around Thanksgiving.

“I was just so happy for [Thompson], he’s done so much - so many other kids would’ve quit and said, ‘Forget it, see you in the spring,’ ” Jewett said. “He’s just battled back.

“That’s why Dana was so upset, just a couple more points and we could’ve won it.”

Lindberg has dealt with his share of injuries, too.

Last winter, he finished fourth in the 55 dash at All-States before pulling out of the long jump finals with a pulled hamstring that sidelined him until April. He ended up running a 22.46 in the 200 outdoors at the All-State meet, placing fourth, but failed to qualify in long jump at the divisional meet.

“I’m trying to take care of myself and make sure that doesn’t happen again,’’ said Lindberg, whose goal is to win long jump at New Englands. “This is my senior season and I want to make the most of it.’’

Lindberg also wants to make the most of his senior season as a sprinter, since he’ll likely focus on jumping at Yale.

He’s made quite a leap since freshman year, when he played football, basketball, and baseball - sports he gave up to focus on track. He was hooked once he realized that his impression of track as an individual sport was false.

“At Hingham, it’s all about team and coming together,’’ he said. “That’s why Hingham has a reputation for being such a strong team. With that in mind it’s helped me grow and succeed.

“I realized I wasn’t going to improve my chances of getting into college and achieve my potential sticking with those other sports.’’

Although he came around to that conclusion on his own, his mother has always seemed to know what was best for her son.

She said his Little League coaches called him Legs Lindberg and let him steal bases without taking a sign. When he was 3, his mother and father, Jon, would make Dana race his older sister, Erica, around the house to absorb some of his energy on hot summer nights.

“He’d say, ‘Let’s have a race,’ and he just wouldn’t stop,’’ Susan said. “He wanted to keep going around and around the house, and we didn’t mind because it used to tire him out.’’

All that youthful exuberance was embedded in Lindberg’s genes. Jon Lindberg was a football player and Dana’s grandfather, who died when he was 9, was a hurdler at Winchester High.

Last year Lindberg’s grandmother gave him a picture of his grandfather high jumping, and he pinned it to his bulletin board.

“I had no idea he did track,’’ Lindberg said. “It’s cool, I feel like he would’ve been proud of me if he could be watching now.’’

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Obi-Tabot makes last stand for Raiders girls basketball

Purchase this Photo
Mark Thomson/Daily News correspondent

Watertown senior center Brittany Obi-Tabot scored 27 points in her final varsity game last night at Endicott College in Beverly.

By Justin A. Rice/Daily News correspondent
Posted Feb 23, 2010 @ 02:37 AM

But it was all worth it even if the ending is not what she had envisioned.

The 1,000-plus point scorer and rebounder finished her career by scoring a game-high 27 points in a 77-38 loss to Bishop Fenwick in the first round of the Division 3 North bracket last night at Endicott College.

``That was a tough game but we kept playing,'' the 6-foot senior center/forward, who will play for Division 1 Fairfield University in the fall, said after the defeat. ``We could've played harder, but we kept playing, and at Fairfield I'm going to be motivated to play, and know not to give up if we're down 10.''

Over the past four years, Obi-Tabot has been someone the Raiders knew they could rely on both in victory, and while trying to stay in contention against much tougher teams.

``It will be weird not having her around,'' Watertown seventh-year coach John Rimas said. ``She's been the best player I've seen come through here. To her credit, she stuck it out. She gets frustrated, but everyday she has a great attitude and she's been a great role model for a lot of younger girls, so hopefully she can inspire some younger people.

``She's so coachable and is willing to work so hard. It's unfortunate her season and her career had to end like this, but she has a lot to be proud of.''

Rimas said Obi-Tabot, who was the Middlesex League MVP this season, was a big reason the team qualified for the tournament the last four years, including an upset victory against Ipswich her sophomore year. Obi-Tabot takes pride in the fact that she carried her team to the playoffs in each of her seasons.

``My freshman year my coach told us they made the playoffs only three or four years before that,'' she said. ``It's nice to know we can play. We just need some oomph.''

This year, the 14th-seed Raiders (7-14) won't get another shot at second-seeded Ipswich, which Bishop Fenwick advances to play on Thursday.

The 10th-seeded Crusaders (14-7) held the Raiders scoreless for almost two minutes at the start of last night's game. Obi-Tabot - who scored all but one of Watertown's points in the first half - finally made the count 5-2, but Fenwick extended its run to 18-4 and ultimately outscored the Raiders 25-6 in the opening quarter.

The Crusaders, whose first and last baskets of the opening quarter were 3-pointers from junior guard Amy Pelletier (12 points), had several baskets created off pressure from their press.
They led 47-18 at half.

``We had a lot of quick turnovers,'' Rimas said. ``We knew they had three really good guards who were going to put pressure on us. We turned the ball over early and we could never really get in the flow. It's just one of those games.

``We bang heads with some tough teams in the Middlesex League all year and I want (the underclassmen) to get the experience. Tournament basketball is just a whole different game and hopefully our younger girls got some experience tonight.''

Junior captain Michelle Poirier said last night's game will provide motivation for next season.

``That was obviously a tough game,'' she said after scoring two points. ``I don't think everybody played their best and we're going to have to step it up, especially without Brittany. She was a good leader. She got everybody ready to go before games.''

Obi-Tabot was a leader from the start.

As a freshman, she broke the school's single-season record for rebounds (for both boys and girls), while also being an offensive force. She eclipsed the 1,000-career point mark in December.

``It went by so fast, it's crazy,'' she said. ``It hasn't hit me yet. I still feel like next year I'm going to come back and play. I leave July 5 and I guess that day it will kind of hit me.''

Rimas said, although he hasn't added up Obi-Tabot's stats yet, it's ``a pretty safe bet'' that she will come out as the program's all-time leading scorer.

``That's cool,'' Obi-Tabot said.

``You earned it,'' Poirier said.


And with that she bid Watertown hoops adieu.

``See you in Fairfield,'' she said.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NHL's Brooks Orpik launches drive for rink at Thayer

Globe South Sports Notebook

By Justin A. Rice
February 21, 2010

Looking back on his hockey career at Thayer Academy, Brooks Orpik likened the school’s weight room to a broom closet.

“A lot has changed there since I was there,’’ recalled the rugged defenseman, who, since his departure, has won a national championship at Boston College in 2001 and a Stanley Cup last spring with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I worked out in their new fitness center. Now it’s nicer than a lot of college weight rooms. They’re pretty spoiled over there.’’

Orpik, who along with former Thayer teammate Ryan Whitney (Anaheim Ducks) is suiting up for Team USA in Vancouver - wants to spoil the hockey players at his alma mater even more by helping Thayer coach Larry Rooney build an on-campus rink.

Rooney will host a watch party for tonight’s US-Canada men’s game (MSNBC, 7 p.m.) in hopes of garnering support for a fund-raising effort, extending an invitation to 600 hockey alums for the big-screen event.

“A night like this might kick it off,’’ Rooney said of the fund-raising. “We’re trying to get support and figureheads behind this, trying to rejuvenate some energy around this.’’

At Thayer, Rooney was a teammate of Marshfield’s Jeremy Roenick and Hingham’s Tony Amonte, who both played in the 1998 Games in Nagano, the first Games to allow NHL players, and the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Alum Dave Silk of Scituate was a member of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice’’ team in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“It’s an honor to represent your country in international play,’’ said Whitney, who was a late addition to Team USA after Paul Martin was injured. “I’ve done it before, and you really can’t compare it to anything else when you’re wearing your country’s jersey.

Orpik, who plans to contribute funds to the estimated $20 million facility, also put together a highlight DVD to inspire those in attendance this evening.

Thayer is the only program in the Independent School League without its own rink.

“Hopefully everything goes well,’’ Orpik said of the capital campaign. “It’s well overdue. Most [ISL teams] play in pretty new and nice rinks. It would be a good thing for them.’’

Here and there
Catherine O’Connell of North Quincy High and Tim Young of Brockton continue to tear it up on the court at Newbury College. Together, the pair have copped 11 Rookie of the Week honors from the New England Collegiate Conference this winter.

O’Connell was honored last week after averaging 12 points and 10.3 rebounds over two games for the Nighthawks.

“I wasn’t expecting to win all these awards,’’ said the freshman center. “I just play for the team and if it comes on the side it comes on the side. It’s great to win them, but that’s not what I’m going for.’’

The Nighthawks men’s team was 1-1- last week, defeating Daniel Webster 61-59 and narrowly falling to Southern Vermont 77-75. Young averaged 28.5 points, 6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.5 steals. “It’s great,’’ he said. “I have good teammates and have taken good shots.’’ . . .

Norwood’s Kathryn Bernazzani was selected Northeast-10 Freshman of the Week for the first time after breaking the Stonehill College school record in 55-meter hurdles. She was clocked in a time of 8.75 seconds at the Tufts Stampede, finishing second in a field of 23 runners. She has qualified for the New England Championships later this month. . . .

Westfield State freshman Brendan Corcoran of Walpole was named MASCAC Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week after shattering school and meet records in the 600 meters (1 minute, 21.98 seconds).

Friday, February 19, 2010

No rest for Bergeron, B's Olympians

Written by Justin Rice
Monday, February 15, 2010 04:59
Patrice Bergeron arrived in Vancouver on Sunday, 24 hours after his Boston Bruins played the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.

While there will be no rest for Bergeron or five of his other teammates competing in the two-week Winter Olympic ice hockey tournament, the 24-year-old Team Canada center hopes the rest of the Bruins get some rest and relaxation.

“Hopefully for most of the guys they can get to go home and rest and get to think about things,” Bergeron said before the Bruins lost in another shootout — to Vancouver, of all teams — on Feb. 6, “and hopefully regroup for the last part of the season.”

The loss was Boston’s 10th straight before a 3-0 victory against Montreal the next day avoided tying the longest losing streak in franchise history, set by the Bruins in their inaugural 1924-25 season.

Two nights later, the Bruins finally won a shootout by beating Buffalo 3-2 and two nights after that they beat Tampa Bay.

Bergeron, who missed the 2007-08 season with a concussion, had 12 goals and 25 assists through 53 games this season but knows he has a lot to learn from his teammates on the heavily favored Canadian team. And once the tournament begins it will be all business, leaving little time to check out all the other events in Vancouver.

“I’m going to be in my little bubble there and stay focused,” he said, “but at the same time I’m sure I’m going to have a chance to meet all the athletes.

“I’m looking forward to meeting all the athletes from different sports, not really one in particular although I’m looking forward to speed skating and stuff like that. Just really enjoying the whole experience of the whole thing.”

Speaking before the Canucks game and the Bruins' eventual three-game win streak, however, Bergeron was looking forward to joining a squad that is actually favored to win something.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the guys. I’m actually looking forward to the whole experience,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing. Playing at home we’ve played there against the Canucks and the crowd is so loud and the building is always so loud and sold out it’s always fun to play there. So I think the crowd will help us.”

In 2005 Bergeron won gold in the World Junior Tournament and hopes to repeat that success.

“I have two [medals] actually,” he said. “They’re nicely sitting on the wall there back home. … We have high expectations for ourselves so I think its fine that we got pressure from all the fans and the whole country. Obviously we want to win, especially at home like that. So I think that’s normal. As a team we gotta handle the high expectations if we want to do well.

“That’s fine. We have high expectations of ourselves. It’s something you have to enjoy the moment. The fans are going to be behind us. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Spirit


Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Feb. 3: Brooks Orpik's portrait at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Justin A. Rice/Red Line Editorial February 12, 2010

As a high school hockey player in the late 1990s, Brooks Orpik often wondered why his coach fussed so much about the Olympic spirit. As a teenager, Orpik just wanted to play in the NHL.

But at Thayer Academy just outside Boston, coach Jack Foley was all about the wide-open and finesse style of amateur and international hockey.

Now that Orpik, a defenseman, 29, is all grown up and has won a national championship with Boston College and a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he realizes that Foley is one of the main reasons he is one of the only veteran NHL players on the U.S. hockey team that will compete at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The U.S. men face off against Switzerland on Tuesday for their first game in Vancouver.

"I think when you were going through it at the time it's one of those things you think was kind of stupid, maybe you want to overlook that," Orpik said Foley's philosophy. "Growing up as a kid that's just natural. Everyone dreams of playing in the NHL."

The philosophy paid off for one of Orpik's high school teammates, too. Ryan Whitney, now of the Anaheim Ducks, was a late addition to Team USA for the Olympic Winter Games. He replaced the injured Paul Martin a few weeks ago.

Now Orpik and Whitney are members of an elite group of Foley disciples to wear the red, white and blue that includes Olympians Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte and Dave Silk.

Roenick and Amonte played for Team USA in the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games (the first Games that allowed NHL players) and the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and Silk represented the United States as part of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"We really wanted to produce kids for college and the Olympics," said Foley, 64, who left Thayer in 2002 and currently scouts for the NHL's Dallas Stars. "We thought that was the pinnacle. We played a European style before anyone else did."

Throughout the years, Foley and his predecessor at Thayer, Arthur Valicenti, have been heavily involved in Team USA's youth and coaching program.

Orpik and Whitney also have played extensively within the Team USA system. Orpik, who first met Foley at a Team USA youth clinic, played for Team USA at the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Championship and skated for the U.S. at the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Whitney was a member of the U.S. Junior Team that competed at the 2003 IIHF World Junior Championship and participated in the 2002 IIHF World Junior Championship and 2001 IIHF World Men's U-18 Championship. He was also a member of the U.S. U-18 team within USA Hockey's National Team Development Program.

"It was incredible," Whitney said about receiving the call to represent Team USA. "It's an honor to represent your country in international play. I've done it before, and you really can't compare it to anything else when you're wearing your country's jersey. I've played for the U.S. in the World Juniors, but I can't imagine the Olympics. You're on the biggest stage and it only happens once every four years, so it's a dream come true.

Martin and Orpik text messaged Whitney when he got the call.

"I got to know Paul Martin a little bit during the camp this summer," Whitney said. "He's a great guy. He's a great player. I really felt for him. At the same time, I never wished for him to be injured, but anyway you can get there, you take it. It just happened to be that way for me, and I'm really happy to be part of the team."

Whitney also played with Orpik and Team USA member Ryan Malone in Pittsburgh but was traded to Anaheim just before the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last season.

"It will be cool,'' Whitney said of being reunited with Orpik as a teammate. "Brooks was a senior when I was a freshman [at Thayer], and I kind of grew up with him and Ryan Malone on the Penguins.

"We had a special group. And the three of us were pretty close, so it's really fun. To think you'll be in the locker room, having fun, practicing and playing with those guys again, I can't wait."

The current Thayer Academy community can't wait, either. Tigers coach Larry Rooney is hosting a watch party at the school for hometown fans during the Team USA-Canada game on Feb. 21.

Rooney, who played at Thayer with Roenick and Amonte before graduating in 1987, keeps in touch with Orpik on a regular basis. He hopes to draw 300 to 400 hockey alums to the watch party and garner support for a future fundraising effort to build a rink on campus.

"A night like this might kick it off," Rooney said. "We're trying to get support and figureheads behind this, try to rejuvenate some energy around this."

Orpik, who said he will contribute to the hockey facility (which has an estimated cost of $20 million), also put together a highlight DVD to show at the watch party. He still lives in the area during the offseason and works out at Thayer in the summer.

"A lot has changed there since I was there," Orpik said. "I worked out in their new fitness center. We had a little closet with a couple weights when I played there. Now it's nicer than a lot of college weight rooms. They're pretty spoiled over there."

Unfortunately, when Orpik and Whitney are home in the offseason their old coach, Foley, is on the road during the peak of the scouting season. But the former coach said maybe one of these days they'll be able to get together for a beer on the South Shore of Massachusetts and reminisce about Thayer Academy's Olympic legacy.

"I don't know about any high schools in Minnesota, but for most high schools in the country that's got to be pretty close to the top in terms of number of guys," Orpik said of all the players Thayer has sent to the Olympic Winter Games. "Thayer always has a good hockey program.

"Obviously a little luck is involved (in making the Olympics), but a lot of that goes back to my time at Thayer, learning a lot about myself and hockey. People still ask me who was most influential person (in my career) and I always say Jack Foley definitely was."

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Justin Rice is a freelance contributor for This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

Kesler back at home


Photo: Abelimages / Getty Images

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Justin A. Rice/Red Line Editorial February 11, 2010

BOSTON - If anyone on the U.S. hockey team had a good excuse to not stay in the Olympic Village during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, it would be Ryan Kesler.

After all, Vancouver is Kesler's home.

A forward for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks, won't be resting in his own bed during the Games, however. He will crash in the Olympic Village instead.

"I'm going to stay in the village and get the whole experience," Kesler said after the Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout Feb. 6. "There's not really one thing I'm not looking forward to. I'm just going to try to get the most of the experience."

Kesler will have an intimate knowledge of the primary Olympic ice hockey venue - General Motor's Place, which will be renamed Canada Hockey Place for the Winter Games. It's where the Canucks player home games during the NHL season.

"Obviously it helps knowing the rink and knowing the city, but I don't know if it's an advantage by any means," said Kesler, a 25-year-old Michigan native of playing in his adopted hometown.

Kesler added that he could have used his speed to his advantage if the tournament were being played on the traditional Olympic-size hockey rink, which is larger than the NHL sheet of ice.

"At the same time, I'm used to the smaller rink," he said.

Kesler, however, is not the only player who will have a home rink edge. Six of his Canucks teammates are also going to be competing on home ice.

While Kesler, a first-time Olympian, is the only member of the Canucks on Team USA, Pavol Demitra (Slovakia), Christian Ehrhoff (Germany), Roberto Luongo (Canada), Sami Salo (Finland), and twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin (Sweden) also will be competing in the Games.

The San Jose Sharks leads the league with the most Olympic players going to Vancouver with eight. The Canucks and Detroit Red Wings both have seven.

The Games might be in their hometown, but the Canucks have not been there much lately. Heading into the two-week Olympic break, Vancouver was in the middle of the NHL's longest road trip in league history at 14 games. Kesler said he and his teammates haven't had much time to talk about the coming Games. The Canucks were set to play eight consecutive games away from home before the Olympic Winter Games and six in a row on the road after the Games.

"The Olympics have been in the back of our minds, but right now we're just focusing on this long road trip and trying to get through it," he said after only the fourth game of the trip in Boston.

Through the first five games of the road trip, Kesler had two goals assists and two assists as the Canucks won two games and lost three. Through the first 58 games of the season Kesler had 15 goals and 36 assists, giving the fourth-year player 80 goals and 111 assists in 378 NHL games.

"Ryan is having a real good season," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said before the victory in Boston. "He's a really good skater, he's a really solid competitor at both ends of the ice, and he really comes to play every night. For us he's got a huge role: He kills power plays, he's on the top penalty killing team, and five-on-five I can play him against the best players in the league."

Vigneault said the Winter Games can only improve the skills of a young player such as Kesler.

"Anytime you can measure yourself up against the best, it brings out the best in players," he said. "So I'm hoping that experience will help. He's still a real young player, so it should help him be the best he can be."

Most of Kesler's teammates will be in the same boat. The players on Team USA are significantly younger than those on the 2006 U.S. Olympic squad. The average age of the 2010 U.S. team is 26.5 years, compared to an average of 31.2 years four years ago in Torino. Of the 23 members of Team USA, 20 are first-time Olympians.

When he was 21, Kesler failed to make Team USA for the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games after participating in orientation camp. The team finished 1-4-1 in Italy. At the time only in his second season in the NHL, Kesler said he wasn't ready to play at the Olympic level.

Now there has been a changing of the guard, and Kesler is looking forward to the challenge of playing on a young Olympic team.

"Obviously there's going to be a lot of youth, but we have some veteran leadership in the room and we've got a lot of young skill on the team and a lot of energy, so I think that's going to help us," he said. "Obviously I want to do well and I want the team to do well. We're going there to win a medal, but whatever happens, happens."

He might not have any Olympic experience, but Kesler has competed in the international arena plenty. He played for the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2000 to 2002 and represented the U.S. four times between 2002 and 2006. At the International Ice Hockey Federation World U-18 Hockey Championships in 2002, he led Team USA to a gold medal with seven points in eight games.

"It's going to help me a little bit," he said of his international experience, "but obviously the Olympics are going to be a much bigger stage and the players are going to be that much better. I can draw on it a little bit, but it's definitely going to be harder."

Once he's confronting that challenge head on, Kesler doesn't anticipate having much free time to check out other Olympic events, although he said he will try to see Shaun White catching some air on the snowboarding halfpipe.

At least Kesler doesn't have to worry about missing out on all the sights [CM1] Vancouver has to offer.

"Once the game starts, you are with your team," he said. "It's a great experience, and it's in our hometown so it's going to be a great thing."

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Justin A. Rice is a freelance contributor for This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Selflessness guides Notre Dame runners

Notre Dame Academy sophomore Kelsey Whitaker (second from left) has proved an inspiration to her teammates.

Notre Dame Academy sophomore Kelsey Whitaker (second from left) has proved an inspiration to her teammates. (Notre Dame Academy)

By Justin A. Rice

Globe Correspondent / February 11, 2010

There were no hard feelings when Kelsey Whitaker bettered the 600-meter time of Ariel Kenyon, her senior teammate at Notre Dame Academy, earlier this season. And Whitaker was not upset when Molly O’Leary shattered the freshman mark in the 1,000 meters Whitaker set last season.

“I’ve broken some people’s records and stuff like that and they are fine with it,’’ said Whitaker, a sophomore from Kingston who won the 1,000-meters at the MSTCA Elite Meet at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center last month with a personal best 3 minutes, 2.38 seconds.

“A freshman broke my record and we’re all fine. We just encourage each other to do better and we’re happy for each other.’’

The lack of a traditional caste system at Notre Dame is one major reason why coach Rick Kates has maintained the Hingham Catholic school’s dominance over the last two decades. Notre Dame has more than held its own in the Dual County League in the indoor season and won 21 straight Catholic Conference titles in cross country and outdoor track.

“A lot of underclassmen are hesitant to pass seniors,’’ said Kates, who guided Notre Dame to a DCL title last winter before finishing second in the Division 2 state meet. “Our seniors encourage them to be the best they can for themselves and the team. I think that’s awesome. I think they’re great role models.’’

“Kelsey acts like a senior. She follows right along and does everything the other team members are doing. She takes care of everyone else before herself.’’

For all that senior leadership, senior captain Corrina Lucini said Whitaker is the one who stands out in training sessions.

“Basically she pulls us in workouts,’’ Lucini said of the sophomore. “She kind of takes the lead and we all pace our times judging by her and we try to keep up with her.

“I don’t mind. She’s my friend. It’s no big deal. She helps. Kelsey works really hard. She’s one of the most dedicated people on the team. She will always improve.’’

That leadership carries over off track too, Lucini said. “I always call her for advice, as much as I’m supposed to be giving the advice as a captain,’’ she said. “She’s one of those great runners that puts a lot of effort in and a lot of people look up to her.’’

There has been no shortage of runners for Whitaker and her teammates to look up to over the years. Three of last year’s graduates are running at the collegiate level: Ellen Callahan (Colgate College), Elizabeth Arens (Bates College), and Elizabeth McManus (Lehigh University).

“They are really good to look up to,’’ Whitaker said of last year’s seniors. “They helped me learn how to race and work out. Two of them were on my relay team and helped me to race and showed me the ropes.’’

Most of Kates’ former runners continue in one form or another.

“It’s a sport for a lifetime,’’ he said. “You can run anytime when you’re an adult and lead a healthy lifestyle. A lot of them do that. I work the Boston Marathon every year and see 10 to 15 alums cross the finish line. That’s awesome.’’

This year’s senior class is not too shabby either. Besides Lucini and Kenyon, Sophia Wojtasinski has clocked a 5:22 mile.

Perhaps one reason there is no jealousy in the Notre Dame program is because everyone seems to thrive and improve together within Kates’ system.

“We start off with strength training at the beginning of the season and just a couple weeks ago we started speed training,’’ Whitaker said. “After that, everyone’s times dropped.’’

As a result, Lucini recorded her personal best mile (5:38) in last week’s DCL meet.

Whitaker broke Kenyon’s time in the 600 meters (1:41) by one second a few days before winning the 1,000 at the MSTCA Elite Meet on Jan 30. Her time, 302.28, was 9.6 seconds faster than the school sophomore record, set by Callahan.

Whitaker’s nearest opponent in that race was three seconds behind her, and she still felt like she could’ve run another 500 meters after crossing the finish line.

“I feel like I can run faster than that,’’ said Whitaker, who will get that chance Feb. 20 in the Division 2 state meet. “I’m just hoping to make it to All-States. There’s some pretty good competition in Division 2 so I don’t know if I can win, but I can try.’’

Photo courtesy Harvard University

Harvard University senior Doug Rogers, of Watertown, skates in his final season with the Crimson before looking ahead to a hopeful career in the NHL.

By Justin A. Rice/Daily News correspondent
Posted Feb 11, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

Playing in Monday night's Beanpot consolation game against Northeastern University was better than no Beanpot at all for Doug Rogers.

The Harvard senior forward from Watertown missed the opening round of the annual winter carnival at the TD Garden last Monday night with back spasms, but was glad to be back on the ice this week for his final Beanpot - despite a 4-1 loss to the Huskies.

``You want to play in as many games as possible,'' Rogers said before Boston University and Boston College met in the championship bout. ``It goes without saying I'd rather be in the championship game, of course, and I was disappointed I missed the game last Monday. But it was nice to play in my final game in the Beanpot as a senior, at the very least. It's just too bad we lost.''

The pain from his back spasms was nothing compared to the pain of watching the Crimson lose 6-0 to Boston College in the first round last Monday.

``It was tough,'' said Rogers, who played high school hockey for St. Sebastian's and was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2006. ``I wanted to be out there more than anything, especially being from Watertown - a local guy. I grew up watching the Beanpot. As a kid growing up, I always wanted to be in the Beanpot and play in it. So it was very unfortunate I got hurt against Princeton the Friday before and missed the game against BC.

``That's the way it goes sometimes and you just have to deal with it.''

Monday night was a tough loss to take too.

``That's hockey, sometimes you don't always get the first goal,'' he said. ``I don't think we played great in the first period, and we fought back well, and then I think we made bad decisions in the third period, and ultimately ended up losing the game.

``That happens, teams will score goals. It's a 60-minute hockey game and you can't get rattled by the first goal. You have to keep going with the game plan. I don't think we were worried about that. It's just that we made bad decisions at some crucial times.''

Harvard (6-14-3) lost to Yale, 6-3, on Saturday after beating Brown, 5-2, the previous game. Rogers tallied two goals and added an assist in that win only a day after returning from his injury.

``I got a couple goals and an assist, it was a good game to come back to and gave me some confidence,'' said Rogers, who has five goals and five assists this season. ``I'm glad I didn't lose a step when I was out.''

Now Rogers has six games left before the end of his senior season and college career. He said he just has to go out, and do his best, and try to enjoy the final few games.

``There's still hope in the season,'' he said. ``We're probably right in the middle of the pack in our league. I don't think we have a chance to get an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament, but anything can happen. You can get hot at the end of the year, and just hold onto that thought, and put your best foot forward and see what happens.''

He also can look forward to making a go of it in the Islanders organization. The Islanders selected Rogers as their fourth-round choice in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft after taking notice of Rogers' success with St. Sebastian's high school.

Rogers said there's a possibility he could join one of the Islanders' minor league teams once the Harvard season ends.

``We'll see what happens, I hope that happens,'' he said, ``and if not I'll train hard this summer and see what happens next year.''

One thing he has going for him with the Islanders is the fact that head coach Scott Gordon is also a Massachusetts man, hailing from Easton.

``I met him briefly last year at the Islanders summer camp but besides that (I have not talked to him) much,'' Rogers said. ``It's definitely a little comforting. You'd like to think Massachusetts guys take care of each other. But it's a business there, so you have to do your best.

``But it's nice to know you've got that connection.''

He'll always have a connection to the Beanpot too.

``I kind of felt it before the game, the last time I'd be playing in a Beanpot setting,'' he said. ``It was fun.''

Brandeis basketball player Jessica Chapin hopes to guide Judges back to NCAA tournament

Photo by Mark Turesky/Sportspix

Brandeis University senior guard Jessica Chapin is coming off a record-breaking week for the Judges.

By Justin A. Rice/Daily News correspondent
Posted Feb 11, 2010 @ 12:07 AM

For years, Jessica Chapin's father and coaches have been telling her to let the game come to her. But when the dynamic Brandeis senior guard needed to follow that advice the most, the advice - just like her game - had to come to her on her own terms.

Admittedly not one to struggle with self-esteem, Chapin hit a mid-January slump during a weekend in which the Judges (13-6) lost back-to-back games to Washington University of St. Louis, 67-57, and the University of Chicago in Chicago, 74-61.

``I was losing some confidence in my shot, which clearly has never been a problem for me,'' Chapin said. ``Those two games I really did decide to relax and let things come to me. I think it took a game to set in. In Chicago, I realized I was just kind of forcing things, so I struggled again.''

All of that, however, is in the rearview mirror now.

Chapin was named University Athletic Association (UAA), New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Player of the Week for the second week in a row last week.

Playing at Case Western Reserve University on Feb. 5, and Carnegie Mellon University two days later, Chapin led the Judges to a 2-0 week by averaging 27 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.5 steals. She shot 53.8 percent from the field (14-for-26) and 69.2 percent from 3-point range (9-for-13).

``I felt like, on Sunday (vs. Carnegie), anything I threw up was going to go in,'' she said. ``So it was kind of crazy.''

In the 65-56 win at Case Western, she had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes, hitting 5-of-11 from the floor, 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 6-of-9 from the line.

In a 59-50 win against Carnegie Mellon, she set a pair of school records, scoring 36 points to erase the previous mark set by Pam Vaughan 20 years ago.

The Mendon, N.Y. native also tied a school record with her sixth career game of 25 or more points.

``The past couple of weeks she has been playing really well, really shooting the ball well,'' Brandeis coach Carol Simon said, ``just doing a good job getting the team involved and getting things going a little bit. In the past couple of weeks, she's really been in the zone.

``What really benefited her is she let the game come to her rather than forcing things. There's been a couple of games where she's been forcing things. This kid is a real competitor and wants to get it done. There was one game she was just trying too hard. I was like `Jess, Jess just relax, let the game come to you.'''

The 23-year coach, whose four NCAA tournament bids have come the last four seasons, said Chapin is peaking at the perfect moment.

``This is coming right at the right time,'' she said. ``We have five more games. They are games we have to win, so I don't need her waiting.''

Simon said she thinks her team needs to win at least four out of the last five games on their schedule, including rematch games against Washington University and the University of Chicago on Feb. 12 and 14, to earn an NCAA berth. This time those games will be at home.

``We control our own destiny with five more games against top-ranked teams,'' Simon said. ``If we're lucky enough maybe to get four or five wins, I think we're in a good position again. I don't know, I'm not on committee. It's just a matter of taking care of business and winning your own games.''

Both Simon and Chapin also said it's a matter of Chapin being able to get her teammates involved more against those teams.

``It's hard because I'm trying to create things for everyone else and force things sometimes,'' Chapin admitted. ``(Wash U) stuck one of their better defenders on me and I was just not in the rhythm. I was just probably taking some shots and making some passes that were not really there.

``Like I told coach, and I tell everybody, if I have to score 36 points for us to win, that's what I'll do. But if I score two points, and we win, that's fine too. Definitely, down the stretch, we're going to need more people to contribute and have big games.''

Last year was the team's best-ever tournament run when they lost in the Elite Eight to Amherst.

``We're pretty motivated by that,'' Chapin said of getting revenge against Amherst. ``Every year our goal is to get to the tournament. It doesn't matter how it's done, how pretty or ugly, we'd like to get there.''

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All parts in perfect sync

By Justin A. Rice

Globe Correspondent / February 4, 2010

Not even his own teammates believed Tim Kennedy could defeat the top-ranked 160-pounder in the state.

Kennedy’s upset win against Eric Deslauriers last month not only propelled Bridgewater-Raynham to a thrilling 34-28 victory against defending Division 2 state champion Franklin High, it also made the Trojans believers.

“We didn’t think we had a chance to beat [Franklin],’’ said Matt Libby, B-R’s 125-pound junior captain. “Kids started winning matches and once we won against the best team in the state, we knew we could compete with anybody.’’

The Titans entered last night’s league match at Taunton with a perfect 24-0 mark and ranked first in the state, according to Trojans fifth-year coach Jeff Francis believes this year’s team could be the best in the 35-year history of the storied program, which, believe it or not, is still searching for its first state team title.

Not surprisingly, B-R is chock-full of contributors on the mat.

In addition to Kennedy (27-2) and Libby (30-0), Libby’s older brother, Steve, is 28-1 at 152 pounds.

But for all the firepower, the key to B-R’s success is as much about the sure-handedness of the stars as it is the unexpected contributions of the supporting cast.

Five first-year varsity grapplers have combined for a 78-42 record. And then there’s senior captain Steve Capobianco, a semi-starter a year ago, who is 20-5 at 189 pounds this season.

“We definitely have our studs, the Libbys and the Tim Kennedys, but everybody has brought it together this year,’’ Capobianco said. “I’m not going to lie, we’ve surprised a lot of people, but hopefully we can keep it going.’’

Of the five first-year wrestlers - sophomore Dan Creighton (112), junior Colin Harrington (119), sophomore Vasili Gerekas (135), junior Tad Peterson (140), and senior Shawn Quigley - the 171-pound Quigley has been the most pleasant surprise.

Wrestling up from 158, Quigley has registered an impressive 19-4 mark, a record built no doubt on his daily head-to-head matches with Kennedy and Steve Libby in practice.

“Getting beat up by them in practice only helps me on the mat when I have to wrestle the kids that are stronger than me,’’ Quigley said.

Quigley gets his revenge in the lunchroom, where he can indulge in seconds and thirds while everyone else worries about making weight.

“I can eat what I want,’’ he said. “It’s pretty cool going home and eating two dishes of pasta and not having to worry. It gives me an advantage. I’m not tired. I’m full of energy.’’

But he doesn’t want to rub it in. “I try to stay off that,’’ he said, “everyone [cutting weight] is kind of grouchy.’’

His work has provided an inspiration. “When you see a kid, first year on varsity, winning matches, pulling off big wins, it gets everybody motivated,’’ Matt Libby said.

The Libbys provided the ultimate emotional boost last month, when each recorded his 100th career win. Four days after Matt reached the milestone against BC High, Steve joined him by pinning Barnstable’s Sean Duffy 1:24 into the first round. No other set of brothers at the school has accomplished the feat.

“That was awesome,’’ said Matt Libby, who could also break the school record for career wins.

Francis, an 18-year assistant under Stan Holmes, the program’s founder, believes the career wins mark (146) is held by Devin Hennessy. Over the years, the Trojans have produced 13 state individual and four New England champions, but a team title has always proven elusive. A year ago, B-R finished 26-4, losing to Springfield Central in the Division 1 state semifinals.

“This team definitely tops all of those,’’ Francis said. “I thought they’d be a good team, but they’re even surprising me. To go the whole season without one downfall so far is just really good.’’

B-R went unbeaten a few times in the 1970s, but “that was when we only had 12 matches,’’ he said. “This year we’re talking 28 matches after states. It’s a little bit different. The schedule we wrestle now is more statewide.’’

He constantly worries about his squad peaking too early. “You gotta cross your fingers that they don’t [burn out], but if you don’t train hard enough they will not be in good enough shape. So it’s a real fine line.’’

He is sure, though, that his five first-year varsity grapplers will be challenged more in practice than in a real match.

“By the time they get to the match, they’ve already wrestled tougher kids in practice,’’ Francis said. “That’s just what happens. They get slipped up in there, and they start thinking they’re better than they are, and they get some momentum rolled up.

“It’s a big confidence game, wrestling, and once they get in there they start realizing they can do it.’’

Pin in final match seals wrestling victory for Lions

By Justin A. Rice/Daily News correspondent
Posted Feb 04, 2010 @ 03:29 AM

Everyone in the gym joined in the chant as the South wrestling team trailed Waltham High 31-27 in the final match of the night in the final dual meet of the season.

While Cascino couldn't entirely decipher what the South supporters were chanting, as another 30 seconds went by before the buzzer to end the first round, their words didn't fall on deaf ears. It only took the South freshman 11 seconds to pin Rogers in the second round to give his team the 33-31 victory.

``You really can't hear through the head gear, it's just a massive noise,'' Cascino said after his teammates mobbed him in the middle of the mat. ``It's the encouragement that really counts.
``I just had to adjust to get his shoulder blades on the mat because at first it wasn't working. At first, I thought I landed a little too hard on him. I was on him the whole time, but I couldn't get his shoulders down. ... When I took him down in the second round, I landed on him right.''

The dramatic victory was the fifth time this season South (10-8) was in a meet that came down to the final match, and the first time it came out on top.

``It's nice to win one, this definitely helps,'' said South coach Alan Rotatori, noting that the win gives his team momentum going into the postseason.

Cascino's pin came after Charley Kalotkin got South back within striking distance by pinning Fritz Sylvester in the 215-pound match.

``We knew it was going to be close,'' Rotatori said. ``Waltham has been wrestling some very good opponents during the season. We've also wrestled some good opponents. And it's all about matchups. It was nice to have the younger guys at 215 and heavyweight step up. It's a lot of pressure. It's tough sometimes.''

Rotatori said he had five seniors in his lineup for the first time all season.

``A lot of it has to do with the senior leadership, the seniors helping the freshmen,'' he said. ``But it was really, to be honest, the younger kids that stepped up and solidified the win.''

After Waltham (10-8) freshman Laban Christenson defeated South sophomore Sam Caggiano 6-3 in the opening match at 103 pounds, South got back-to-back pins at 112 and 119 from sophomore Dana Cohen-Kaplan and senior Peter Franco, respectively, to take the 12-3 lead.

Waltham tied the meet 12-12 after Chris Annunciata got a pin at 130, and took the 18-15 lead three matches later after senior Joey Catino beat South senior Tamir Singer 15-2.

After losing the lead in the next match, Waltham regained it, and eventually took a 10-point lead, 31-21, after the 189 bout when Bobby DiPronio pinned Evert Yeaw. Just before that, Kevin Smith won at 171 and Kevin Pike-Fisher gave Waltham the 22-21 lead after the 160 match.

``I had a big comeback win - it was nice,'' said Pike-Fisher, who defeated Ben O'Leary 4-2 in overtime. ``It boosted my confidence, and then Bobby had the pin, and I thought we were going to win it. And then it slipped away.''

As hard as it was for Waltham to watch the final bout, it was equally as intoxicating for South.

``It's really a testament to how hard we've been working in the practice room,'' Franco said. ``We do a lot of conditioning and it pays off, that's where it pays off.

``It was amazing. Honestly, partway through this meet I didn't think the chances were great. I was thinking about how badly I wanted to win this meet. When Lucian pinned that kid, that was great, oh man, so great.''

Franco and his cohorts couldn't have been more grateful to have been bailed out by a freshman on Senior Night.

``It's something new I guess,'' Cascino said. ``It's fun, it really is. It's a good feeling to be able to help the team.''

At the Dual County League meet on Saturday, Waltham edged out South for fourth place after senior Jimmy Coutoumas' 140-pound victory over South's Gabe Turetsky. Yesterday, Coutoumas, who is ranked No. 2 by, managed a minor decision against Turetsky, who is ranked No. 5, to cut South's lead down to 18-15 after six matches.

Waltham won eight of the 14 minutes, but it was South's ability to pin that gained it the victory.

``It's tough, they're home so they have the momentum going,'' Waltham coach Jeff Cincotta said. ``They're a tough team. I wish it didn't start at 103 because I've got a couple young guys at the end of my lineup, and it put a lot of pressure on them.''

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dancing or skating, girl just wants to have fun

Nicole Perry, 14, of Raynham. Nicole Perry, 14, of Raynham. (Michael Tureski/Sportspix)

By Justin A. Rice
Globe Correspondent / January 28, 2010

Nicole Perry will not choose between her two passions, figure skating and dancing.

“Everybody asks me that question,’’ said Perry, a freshman at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional who captured a gold medal at the Bay State Winter Games this past weekend in Williamstown.

“I’d probably quit both. Everybody asks me that when I say I dance. I couldn’t choose. I honestly couldn’t.’’

And both of her coaches, John Mucko and Roland Bessette, believe Perry’s background in competitive dance is what makes the young skater so graceful on ice.

“Nicole is known for her artistry,’’ said Mucko, who has worked with Perry at the Pilgrim Skating Club in Pembroke for nine years. “She’s just a true performer. Technically, she’s just clean, and she’s a strong skater.

“Having that dance behind her really enhances her performance level as well as her artistry. She’s just in a class all of her own.’’

From a logistical standpoint, however, there are only so many hours in the day. Perry also skates out of the Bourne Skating Club and with the Elite Skating Club in Raynham and dances with Studio C Dance Academy in Taunton.

The honor-roll student says she spends about 11 hours a week on each endeavor.

“For me that’s what makes her so grounded,’’ Mucko said. “She has two things she loves in life and devotes equal time to each of them. Would I like to see her on the ice seven days a week? That would be great, but she has other things that keep her grounded, and that’s what makes her what she is.’’

Bessette, who also chairs the US Figure Skating Program Development committee, couldn’t agree more.

“Everybody likes to win, but our goal is to constantly keep skating challenging and fun,’’ Bessette said. “With her balance between dance and skating, she’s able to enjoy what she does in skating. You always get more when someone enjoys what they’re doing rather than when it becomes a job. Everybody’s goals are different. Everybody trains differently as well. For right now this is what makes her happy.’’

Bessette said competing in all forms of dance, including hip-hop, jazz, and ballet, helps her more than if she just focused on one technique such as ballet. He said Perry’s range allows her to interpret and move more freely to music than most skaters.

How far can Perry go?

“That’s something only Nicole can answer for herself,’’ said Bessette. “If her goals are to be good at what she’s doing and be competitive, and she’s reaching it, then fine. If she decides at some point when she gets into a higher level that [skating more] might make a difference, that’s okay.

“She obviously has lot of talent, and a lot of it will depend on what she wants. If we start putting on too many demands, especially at that age, she’ll quit and we’ll lose her forever. At some point if she decides ‘I want to do more with skating,’ she’ll be able to make that decision.’’

The 14-year-old might have to make that decision soon. At the Bay State Games, Perry won gold in the artistic solo and finished fourth in the intermediate free skate.

Over the summer she captured two gold medals and a bronze at the 2009 State Games of American held in Colorado Springs.

Perry, who also performs theater on ice, was invited to perform in the Bay State Skate Figure Skating Show for the third straight year last weekend.

“It went great,’’ she said of the show. “There were lots of people watching. It’s always fun. This year was the 25th anniversary, so it was a bigger show with lots of awards.

“I love doing the show. I definitely want to keep doing it.’’

Perry, who recently attended a national competition with her dance troop in Sturbridge, Conn., said sometimes scheduling conflicts do arise between dance and skating.

“We try to work it out,’’ she said. “I do my best to do both. They try to make me choose, but I’m not going to.’’

And as far as her skating career is concerned, Perry just wants to take it as far as she can go - without giving up dance, that is.

“I don’t want to say Olympics because everybody says that,’’ she said. “But I’ll work as hard as I can to get as far as I can but have fun doing it. Because if you’re not having fun, why do it?’’

© Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company