In girls tennis: Falcons take match, Rangers put up stiff competition

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Ranger Olivia McKenna reaches and returns the ball in girls varsity doubles tennis play at Lake Region on Monday.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Ranger Olivia McKenna reaches and returns the ball in girls varsity doubles tennis play at Lake Region on Monday. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 5-21-2014

ORLEANS — The North Country Falcons claimed a 5-2 win against the host Lake Region Rangers in girls varsity tennis play on Monday afternoon. The victory marked the Falcons’ first of the season but continued Lake Region’s losing streak.

Although the Rangers are still looking for their first team win, Monday’s match proved that the two sides are not so far apart. Ranger Sydney Whipple came out on top of an epic duel against Falcon Danielle Therrien in the number two doubles match 8-6.

“I’d say it was my long shots that made the difference,” Whipple said after the match. “When I placed them well it cut off the angles. It’s something I’ve been working on, and today it just worked really well for me.”

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Erica Tweed shows good form as she returns mid-court during Monday’s doubles match against the host Lake Region Rangers. Tweed and her partner Samantha Stanhope would eventually best Rangers Juelia Bollens-Lund and Olivia McKenna 8-4 for the win. Photo by Richard Creaser

Whipple commended Therrien on her ability to drop short, shallow shots throughout the contest. It forced Whipple to scramble and dig deep in order to return the shots.

“I’ve had some problems chipping this year,” Whipple said. “Usually I would chip short and hit the net. Today I was getting more of them to drop in.”

Nora Muhonen would secure Lake Region’s other match win, defeating Falcon Kristina Gauvin 8-4 in the number three singles contest.

Falcon India Bluett bested Ranger Alyssa Lawson in the number one singles match 8-2, and Falcon Brianna Grimm bested Lake Region’s Karina Cimbarová 8-1 in the girls number four singles. North Country’s Emily Dobler bested Alora Rowell 8-2 in the number five singles match.

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North Country’s Brianna Grimm runs in to return the short hop against Lake Region’s Karina Cimbarová in girls varsity tennis play on Monday. Grimm would come out on top 8-1 en route to a 5-2 team victory for the visiting Falcons. Photo by Richard Creaser

The doubles matches proved among the more competitive contests on the day. The North Country number two doubles team of Erica Tweed and Samantha Stanhope were challenged by the Lake Region pair of Juelia Bollens-Lund and Olivia McKenna, emerging on top 8-4. In the number one doubles match, Falcons Meira Buck and Hailie Lyons came out on top 8-4 against the Rangers duo of Rachelle Cotnoir and Jade Piette.

Lake Region Coach Greg Hennemuth said that he has been impressed by the strides made by the team over the season. He gave credit to former coach Laura Laramee for reviving a Ranger tennis program that never quite seemed to get off the ground in the past.

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Lake Region’s Sydney Whipple used a combination of hard baseline shots and timely chip shots to give Lake Region its only singles match win of the day on Tuesday against North Country’s Danielle Therrien. Photo by Richard Creaser

“She really got the girls interested and excited about tennis,” Coach Hennemuth said. “I had tried to get something going years ago, and it just never seemed to take hold.”

He said that the addition of a third court at the high school last year has allowed Lake Region to host matches after several years of playing home games at the Derby municipal courts in Derby Center.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

 

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In boys tennis: Falcons win over U-32 on strength of singles matches

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Nathan Marsh is enjoying his second season on the North Country Falcons tennis team, having come late to the program.  A lifelong hockey and soccer player, Marsh has emerged as one of the top four singles players in the Falcons tennis program. Photo by Richard Creaser

Nathan Marsh is enjoying his second season on the North Country Falcons tennis team, having come late to the program. A lifelong hockey and soccer player, Marsh has emerged as one of the top four singles players in the Falcons tennis program.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle May 14, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — The North Country Falcons tennis team extended its winning streak to two matches and evened up their season record at 3-3 with a 4-3 win over the visiting U-32 Raiders on Thursday, May 8. Coming into the contest, Coach Gary Atchinson predicted that the victory would be attained or lost on the strength of the singles matches.

“Our top four are very strong with a lot of experience,” he said. “We kind of need that to balance out the fact that we have a lot of inexperienced players.”

The Falcons team has only nine players — the exact number needed to field a team for each match. With very little wiggle room, it falls on the team to perform to its maximum capability each and every time. So far, they have not disappointed, Coach Atchinson said.

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In girls softball: Rangers run wild in win over Winooski

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Michelle Thibeault pitched a complete game gem as the host Lake Region Rangers downed the Winooski Spartans 13-3 on Tuesday afternoon.  Thibeault didn't allow a single base runner through the first three innings while notching seven strikeouts in the game.  Kalah Poginy mans centerfield in the background. Photo by Richard Creaser

Michelle Thibeault pitched a complete game gem as the host Lake Region Rangers downed the Winooski Spartans 13-3 on Tuesday afternoon. Thibeault didn’t allow a single base runner through the first three innings while notching seven strikeouts in the game. Kalah Poginy mans centerfield in the background.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle May 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

ORLEANS — An aggressive running game, a sterling effort by pitcher Michelle Thibeault, and big innings with two-out rallies helped the Lake Region Rangers defeat the visiting Winooski Spartans on Tuesday afternoon. With the win the Rangers improved to 2-3 in Division II play after opening the season on a three-game losing skid.

The Rangers would strike first in the home-half of the first inning. Megan Menard started off the scoring with a single and stolen base before Alyssa Royer plated her. A pair of steals and a passed ball later, Royer would also come around to score giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

“The running game is a big part of our game,” Royer said after the game. “When we can move up the bases like that it puts us in a position to score when we get hits.” Continue reading

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In boys baseball: Falcons come out on wrong end of pitching duel

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by Richard Creaser

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Sophomore catcher Andrew Gonyaw rips a shot to third base during Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the visiting Essex Hornets. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle April 30, 2014

NEWPORT — The purported game time temperature was 46 degrees, but it certainly didn’t feel that way Thursday as the North Country Falcons hosted the Essex Hornets for the first game of the 2014 season at Falcon Field. A strong, frigid wind out of the northwest played a pivotal role in the game.

“We made a lot of good contact,” Falcons pitcher Wyatt Prue said after the game. “We just couldn’t find the holes. If not for the wind, we might have had at least a couple fewer outs.”

Prue and Essex pitcher Nathan Baez matched up well in the contest. Though Baez would pitch seven scoreless, Prue finished his complete game effort, yielding only a single earned run in the Falcons’ 2-0 loss. Continue reading

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Rasputitsa cyclists brave chilly weather and mud season

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A mass start heralded the beginning of the 47-mile Rasputitsa cycling race.  More than 350 racers began and ended the 47 mile race in downtown Newport on a cool Saturday morning in support of the Mary E. Wright Halo Foundation.

A mass start heralded the beginning of the 47-mile Rasputitsa cycling race. More than 350 racers began and ended the 47 mile race in downtown Newport on a cool Saturday morning in support of the Mary E. Wright Halo Foundation.   Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle April 23, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — Mud season is typically a time of year that Vermont residents have come to dread. For the 350 riders in Saturday’s Rasputitsa cycling event, however, mud season represented a challenge that begged to be accepted.

The lure of the Rasputitsa is one that finds its roots in the European Spring Classic bicycle races, co-organizer Heidi Myers told the Chronicle on Friday. The growth of gravel road racing nationally, coupled with the success of Ms. Myers’ and fellow co-organizer Anthony Moccia’s Dirty 40 race last August, led them to attempt a second race in the Northeast Kingdom. The fact that so many cyclists braved a blustery April morning and 47 miles of often treacherous back roads appears to have confirmed their belief in the sport’s popularity.

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Susan Dunklee makes history again, returns home

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Olympian biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton smiles in the cafeteria at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where she trains as part of the Green Racing Project.  Photo by Natalie Hormilla

Olympian biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton smiles in the cafeteria at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where she trains as part of the Green Racing Project. Photo by Natalie Hormilla

copyright the Chronicle April 2, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

CRAFTSBURY — Susan Dunklee of Barton returned to Vermont last week, having made history once again.

After her Olympic run in Sochi, Russia, in February, it was back to business as usual on the biathlon World Cup circuit.  In her final week of races, in Oslo, Norway, Ms. Dunklee had a career breakthrough:  She came in third in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, marking the first time in 20 years that an American woman biathlete graced the World Cup podium.

“Just to get up there, when it’s the same field, it’s pretty special,” she said in an interview last week.  She was referring to the wide field of athletes that participate in World Cup races.

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First annual March Madness Basketball Tournament held at Brownington school

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The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16.  The team, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, included:  Alaina Zenonos, Olivia Lacoss, Molly Horton, and Tia Martinez.  In the back row, from left, are:  Faith Kempton, Katie Willard, Kennedy Falconer, Bria Lacoss, and Coach Mike Lacoss.  Photos courtesy of Mike and Barb Lacoss

The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16. The team, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, included: Alaina Zenonos, Olivia Lacoss, Molly Horton, and Tia Martinez. In the back row, from left, are: Faith Kempton, Katie Willard, Kennedy Falconer, Bria Lacoss, and Coach Mike Lacoss. Photos courtesy of Mike and Barb Lacoss

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16.  The Troy girls were runners up.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division.  The Brighton boys were runners up.

Nine teams from six schools played in the tournament, which was a fund-raiser for the eighth-grade field trip and the new Brownington Athletic Fund.  — submitted by Mike and Barb Lacoss

The Troy girls were runners up.  In the front row, from left to right, are:  Makayla Ban, Alicia Farrell, Brook Gentry, Sammy Barcomb, Katie Lacasse, Ally Santaw, and Mckenna Marsh.  In the back row, from left, are:  Darcy Mayhew, Abby Baraw, Rebecca McDonald, Abbie Desjarlais, Fayth Columbia, Jessica Carr, and Coach Shannon Bowman.

The Troy girls were runners up. In the front row, from left to right, are: Makayla Ban, Alicia Farrell, Brook Gentry, Sammy Barcomb, Katie Lacasse, Ally Santaw, and Mckenna Marsh. In the back row, from left, are: Darcy Mayhew, Abby Baraw, Rebecca McDonald, Abbie Desjarlais, Fayth Columbia, Jessica Carr, and Coach Shannon Bowman.

The Brighton boys were runners up.  In the front row, from left, are:  Jacob Kocis, Troy Sanville, Alex Barnes, and Josh Rivers.  In the back row, from left, are:  Asstistamt Coach Cooper Densmore, Nicholas Bingham, Zach Letourneau, Aaron Verge, Kyle Hackett, and Coach Bill Burns.

The Brighton boys were runners up. In the front row, from left, are: Jacob Kocis, Troy Sanville, Alex Barnes, and Josh Rivers. In the back row, from left, are: Asstistamt Coach Cooper Densmore, Nicholas Bingham, Zach Letourneau, Aaron Verge, Kyle Hackett, and Coach Bill Burns.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division.  In the front row, from left, are:  Noah Rivard, Alex Fearino, Zachary Vill’neuve, and Michael Martin.  In the back row, from left, are:  Coach Tony Lamoureux, Cody Bingham, Austin Oleskiewicz, Curtis Bowen, Garrette Blake, and Coach Bob Bowen.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division. In the front row, from left, are: Noah Rivard, Alex Fearino, Zachary Vill’neuve, and Michael Martin. In the back row, from left, are: Coach Tony Lamoureux, Cody Bingham, Austin Oleskiewicz, Curtis Bowen, Garrette Blake, and Coach Bob Bowen.

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In boys basketball playoffs: Ghosts fend off Ranger comeback bid

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Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night.  A Lake Region senior, Provoncha's 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium. Photo by Richard Creaser

Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night. A Lake Region senior, Provoncha’s 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle March 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

BARRE — The Lake Region Rangers (18-4) battled through 20 regular season and two playoff games to earn a berth in Thursday night’s semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.  Squaring off against the second-seeded Randolph Galloping Ghosts (20-2), there were no illusions about how tough a game this would be.  The DIII semifinal marked the first sell-out crowd of the Barre tournament, tournament officials told the Chronicle.

Both teams had fought hard to make it to Barre but only one would emerge to compete for the DIII crown.  On this night, with a 70-59 win, it would be the Ghosts.

“They play good ball pressure,” Ranger Clint Provoncha said of the Ghosts.  “They were really aggressive on defense and they never give up.”

Tenacity was the name of the game for both of these squads.  Though falling behind by a basket in the early goings, Lake Region managed a 7-2 lead until foul troubles upended the Ranger attack.  Halfway through the opening quarter, the Rangers had accrued five fouls.

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In boys basketball: Gray’s return to NCUHS bad news for Falcons

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NCBBall Gray cmykcopyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — It was a bittersweet homecoming for Kendrick Gray, who returned to the North Country gymnasium for the first time this season on Friday night.  Gray, a former North Country Falcon freshman, now plays for the Rice Green Knights (12-3) as a potent sophomore forward.

“Coming in as an opponent was pretty nerve-wracking,” Gray said after Rice’s 74-39 win.  “I just wanted to do my best and everything kind of came out.  I wasn’t expecting to have as good a game as I did.”

Gray exhibited the kind of skills that made him a fearsome opponent for any team.  His 17-point performance, tops among both teams, including shooting 4 for 9 from the free throw line, a three-point basket, and five other baskets including a crowd-inciting dunk in the first quarter.  The fact that his heroics inspired cheers from both halves of the crowd was not lost on the amiable sophomore.

“I knew I couldn’t hide forever and I’d have to come back sometime,” Gray said smiling.  “I love my Newport peeps.  I love this place.”

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Young pitchers and catchers take up yoga

copyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — Jay Gonyaw has operated a clinic through the Junior Legion Baseball Program for area pitchers and catchers for the past eight years, first at IROC and now at North Country Union High School.  His coaching experience, however, goes back even further.  Mr. Gonyaw is also the coach of the North Country Falcons junior varsity squad.

“I coached my first time when I was 18 years old,” Mr. Gonyaw told the Chronicle on Tuesday.  “So I’ve been around baseball and coaching baseball a long time.”

What Mr. Gonyaw has noticed lately is that his young athletes often aren’t quite in the condition they should be.  To remedy that, he’s introduced an unlikely new element to his coaching regimen — yoga.

A number of factors contribute to the fact that  kids aren’t as limber as they once were.  They range from the widespread use of technology to a more stringent focus on single or double sport athletic training.

“You see it when a kid transitions from playing in one sport season and switching over to a different one in the next season,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “They have to be in great shape to play at a high level in one sport, but when they switch they end up sore.  They’re going from working one group of muscles to a completely different group of muscles, and their bodies just aren’t ready for that.”

The ability to adapt from one sport to the next has also declined as varsity athletes begin to focus more on a single sport instead of the two or three sports that athletes of his generation played, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Working on the muscle groups that are used most ignores the benefits that a more complete workout experience delivers to those muscle groups you use less frequently.

Back in the day when outdoor activities formed a major part of a child’s life, multiple muscle groups were always being tested.  Kids rode bikes through town, played soccer in the park, or swam at the local beach.  As “free-play” activities have diminished, so has exposure to different kinds of body workouts.  And that has affected the ability of athletes to meet the physical demands of their sports, Mr. Gonyaw said.

“I see a lot of kids coming into my clinic or at the start of the season and they are pretty stiff,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “It got me to thinking that the traditional stretching routine maybe isn’t working as well as it used to.  So I started to think outside the box.”

So Mr. Gonyaw and his fellow trainer Eric LeBlanc arranged for yoga instructor Rebecca Marcotte of Barton to come in and work with his players.  The first 30 minutes of each weekly session are dedicated to yoga stretching and the final 60 minutes to pitching and catching.

“We’ve been at it for five weeks of our seven-week clinic and we’re already seeing a big difference,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “I’ve had kids ask me why we didn’t do this sooner, so they’re really buying into it.  They’re seeing the value of what we’re doing.”

While the clinic focuses on pitchers and catchers, the benefits of yoga would apply equally across the diamond and the outfield, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Pitchers and catchers are the only players with direct interaction with every pitch but that doesn’t mean that the position players, or batters for that matter, wouldn’t benefit as well.

“A centerfielder or a left fielder might go a couple of innings without needing to do anything,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But then they need to be ready to run at full speed and make the catch or make a throw right away.  That puts a lot of strain on the body.”

Not only will yoga help players perform at a higher level of readiness, but it should also help to avoid some of the more common injuries that occur during the season.  As short as the high school baseball season is in Vermont, by the time an injury has healed the season is effectively over for that player.

“I think we will see some early results when we start the daily practices in the spring,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “The real test will come at the end of the season when we see how many injuries we have or how many sore arms we have.  I really think that this is going to make a huge difference.”

Mr. Gonyaw intends to bring back yoga for his clinic in future years, and he also hopes to incorporate a ten- to 15-minute yoga routine in his daily practices and pre-game regimen.  As the student athletes become more comfortable with the yoga routines, he expects that players may also start to recognize the meditative benefits of yoga as well.

“I know of yoga mostly as a good way to stretch out your muscles and joints,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But I can see a time when a batter or pitcher can step back and refocus for the next at-bat.  The mental part will come.”

Mr. Gonyaw’s annual pitching and catching clinic is open to a wide range of ages from 12 years old to 17 years old and to kids from all over.  This year’s group includes four catchers and 13 pitchers who work with Mr. Gonyaw and Mr. LeBlanc, a former pro baseball player.

“Eric really has an amazing understanding of what it takes to pitch at all levels,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “He understands the mechanics of each pitch and the benefits of a good stretching routine.  That really enhances the experience for everyone.”

The positive feedback from players so far indicates that Mr. Gonyaw’s unorthodox yoga regimen has hit a home run.  How well the yoga stretching philosophy extends beyond the kids in his clinic is yet to be seen.

“I definitely think there’s something here that would benefit all players in all sports,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “If it helps them perform better and avoid injuries, it’s been totally worthwhile.”

 contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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