Monitor Sports names winter Players of the Season

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL and DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 03-19-2023 10:16 AM

A wild winter sports season came to a boisterous conclusion at the University of New Hampshire last Sunday when Bow girls’ basketball lost the D-II championship on buzzer-beating free throws and Pembroke boys’ hoop fell to Pelham by just three points.

Overall, it was a highly successful season for the Monitor’s coverage area teams. In D-II girls’ basketball, five of the six area teams qualified for the playoffs; on the boys’ side, four of six played in the postseason. In D-III, Concord Christian girls’ basketball won the state championship, while the Hopkinton girls reached the final four. And in D-I, Concord girls’ basketball won its first-round playoff game on the road against Dover. For D-III boys, Hopkinton also played in the semifinals, as did Concord Christian in D-IV.

On the boys’ hockey side, Concord saw their three-year championship streak come to an end in the D-I semifinals against Bedford, Bow suffered a first-round loss to Pinkerton in the Falcons’ first playoff home game since moving up to D-I and Belmont-Gilford took home the D-III championship. For the girls’ teams, Bishop Brady-Trinity-Londonderry took down Concord in the quarterfinals only to lose to Bishop Guertin in the semis.

The area also saw strong individual performances across wrestling, swimming, alpine and Nordic skiing and indoor track.

Here are the Monitor’s winter athletes of the season:

Boys’ basketball:Brode Frink, sophomore forward, Concord Christian Academy

Concord Christian might’ve come up short in double overtime in the Division IV semifinals against Holy Family, but Frink did everything he could to try to will the Kingsmen to victory.

With their backs against the wall, the sophomore scored 48 points and corralled 17 rebounds in CCA’s 86-84 loss.

Frink’s already crossed the 1,000-point milestone and was named the D-IV player of the year by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization. He averaged 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists per game.

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“I just feel bad for the seniors,” Frink said after the season-ending loss. “We gave it our all. I love each and every one of them. We have a great coach, and I’m looking forward to next season.”

The Kingsmen finished the 2022-23 season at 19-2.

Girls’ basketball: Annelise Dexter, junior forward, Pembroke Academy

On a relatively young Spartan team, Dexter’s performance this season went a long way toward guiding the team to a 13-5 regular season and a playoff victory over Merrimack Valley.

The NHBCO named her to the first-team all-state for Division II, after averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per game for the season. She also led the Spartans in assists and steals and scored 20 or more points in 12 games, including two 30-point performances.

“She’s really learned how to fight through defenders and to still get her shots,” Pembroke head coach Steve Langevin said in late February. “Now she’s getting shots pretty much wherever she wants. She’s taken a huge step of dealing with the frustration of people really trying to take you away but learning how to combat it.”

Boys’ hockey: Brooks Craigue, senior forward, Concord High School

Watch Concord boys’ hockey play this season and it wouldn’t have taken long to notice Craigue’s standout play on the ice. In 24 games for the Crimson Tide (includeing Christmas tournament games), the senior scored 30 goals and had 37 assists, setting the program’s single-season points record previously held by Pat LaCasse.

For his career, Craigue totaled 76 goals and 111 assists (187 points) over 89 games and helped lead the Tide to three straight Division I championships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Concord’s championship streak came to an end on March 8 when the Tide lost, 3-2, to Bedford in overtime in the semifinals.

“Brooks, he’s a special kid,” head coach Dunc Walsh said after the Bedford loss. “You don’t get to coach kids like that. Not only his playing ability, his compete level, his will to win is just second-to-none. Kids just love playing with him and respect him. It’s been a privilege to coach him.”

The Tide finished the season 19-1-0.

Girls’ hockey: Kacey Yorston, soph. goalie, Bishop Brady-Trinity-Londonderry

The backbone for her team all season, Yorston played a key role in the Bishop Brady-Trinity-Londonderry co-op reaching the semifinals. BTL finished the season 14-5-0, a program record for regular-season wins, in no small part because of Yorston’s play.

She turned in eight shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.33, made 400 saves and had an overall save percentage of .898.

“We have an exceptional goalie,” head coach Dan Earley said before BTL’s quarterfinal matchup against rival Concord. “Last year, I think she made 35 saves (against Concord). If she’s on her game, that’s what we’ll get from her.”

Yorston and BTL took down the Tide, 5-2, in that quarterfinal at JFK Coliseum in Manchester before losing, 8-1, against No. 1 Bishop Guertin in the semifinals at Everett Arena.

Wrestling: Adler Moura, junior, Bow High School

The Falcons’ junior dominated on the mat throughout the season, helping lead Bow to a second-place finish in the Division III state championship.

Moura won the 120-pound weight class in the division championship at Bow High School in mid-February, punctuating Bow’s strong season under first-year head coach Bill Chavanelle.

“Adler had one goal and one goal only, to prove he is the best wrestler in the state (at his division), and I don’t think he’s done yet,” Chavanelle said after the D-III title.

He competed at the following week’s state Meet of Champions, featuring the top wrestlers from all divisions around the state and finished as the runner-up in his weight class. In the semifinals, he beat Concord’s Griffin Norwalt.

Overall, he finished the season 42-6 and was also a finalist at the New England Qualifier in Providence, R.I.

Boys’ swimming: Ryan Powers, sophomore, Bow High School

Among several strong swimmers for head coach Julie Guerrette’s team, Powers rose to the top with his success.

At a Concord-area swim meet in mid-December, he won the 50-yard freestyle (23.28) and the 100-yard freestyle (51.19). He followed that up with even better times at the NHIAA swimming championships at the University of New Hampshire, finishing the 50-yard freestyle in 22.58 seconds and the 100-yard freestyle in 49.71 seconds, both enough to win the events.

“For Ryan to capture both the 50 and 100 free D-II state titles as a sophomore is very impressive, not just because the competition is tough, but because in sprint races you need to be more than just fast, you have to execute everything perfectly,” Guerrette said. “It truly comes down to execution. Ryan executed everything perfectly, and he earned those first-place touches.”

Girls’ swimming: Lena Thompson, sophomore, Bow High School

At that same Concord-area swim meet in mid-December, Thompson also performed notably well. She won the girls’ 200-yard individual medley (2:25.88) and swam the girls’ 100-yard butterfly in 1:13.05 as the only participant.

In mid-February at the NHIAA championships, Thompson finished third in the 100-yard butterfly (1:01.25) and third in the 100-yard backstroke (1:00.93).

“Lena came into her own this year and had a laser-like focus on what events she wanted to swim at states from the first practice,” Guerrette said. “She strategized all season on how to better her times and pace herself physically and mentally to have that peak performance at the state championships.”

Boys’ indoor track: Aidan Cox, senior, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy

When you are a state champion, New England champion and All-American, the results speak for themselves.

Cox won a pair of Division II titles, claiming the 1,500 meters in a Division II-record time (3:58.06) and the 3,000 in state-record time (8:28.61) as the Bears cruised to their first indoor track title with 101 points, nearly three times that of runner-up Oyster River (34).

An all-state selection by the D-II coaches, he also ran the anchor leg of Coe-Brown’s third-place 4x800 relay with teammates Sanjith Nomula, Benjamin Robinson and Gavin Dyjak.

Three weeks later, Cox won the New England title in the mile, clocking a 4:14.76, and ended the season by finishing fifth in the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Indoor Nationals held in Boston. His time of 14:21.89 was the ninth-fastest recorded in U.S. high school history.

As Coe-Brown head coach David Zink simply put it, “Aidan really made a case for himself as one of the best runners New Hampshire has ever had.”

Girls’ indoor track: Amelia Lefebvre, junior, Kearsarge Regional High School

The Capital Area was littered with strong track athletes this past season, but none scored as many points at the state championships, nor is as well-rounded, as Lefebvre

Lefebvre finished second at the D-II championship in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches), second in the shot put (30-9), fourth in the 1,000 meters (3:27.62) and also ran on the third-place 4x400 relay.

Not only did Lefebvre score in all four of her events, which is challenging enough, but all four of those events are in different disciplines. The scores from her three individual events accounted for 20 of Kearsarge’s 34 points at the D-II championship, where the Cougars finished fifth.

Prior to the state meet, Lefebvre was selected for All-State honors by the D-II coaches.

Boys’ Alpine skiing: Patrick Wachsmuth, senior, Bow High School

Undefeated in the regular season in the slalom, a stretch that includes a Capital Cup individual title, Wachsmuth dominated the event all season long, successfully defending his D-II title and finishing second in the giant slalom.

At the D-II championship, Wachsmuth was the only competitor to break 35 seconds on Crotched Mountain’s slalom course, and he did it twice (34.41 and 34.85 seconds) to win the event by more than a second.

He also finished second in the GS at the Meet of Champions and was one run shy of capping a perfect season in the slalom. Wachsmuth only completed one run at Mittersill Ski Area’s slalom course (he needed to complete both runs), but the attempt he successfully finished was in a blistering 37.17 seconds, the fastest time of the day.

Wachsmuth played a key role in helping the Falcons finish third in D-II as a team.

“Patrick (hadn’t) lost a slalom race this year, so I was really hoping he would win the state championship,” Bow head coach Mike Sampo said. “He came through big. He has really improved on his GS as well.”

Girls’ Alpine skiing: Mika Taylor, freshman, Concord High School

Taylor burst onto the scene in her rookie campaign, skiing her way to a D-I title in the slalom, a Capital Cup title and a top-five finish in the Meet of Champions.

Taylor posted the two fastest slalom times at the D-I championship at Mount Sunapee to win that event, and also finished ninth in the giant slalom, leading the Crimson Tide to second place as a team.

She finished in the top five of every race she competed in during the regular season (including her Capital Cup victory at Proctor Academy) and capped her season by finishing fifth in the slalom and 10th in the GS at the Meet of Champions, the top area finisher in both races.

“It was a great accomplishment for her,” Concord Alpine head coach George Golden said after the D-I championship in mid-February. “She should be really proud of herself, especially since the competition in D-I is really strong this year. Not too often does a freshman get on the podium at the championships, never mind win.”

Boys’ Nordic skiing: Tyler Watt, junior, Concord High School

Watt established himself as one of the state’s top skiers early on by winning the classic race at the statewide N.H. Coaches Series and confirmed it by sweeping the classic and freestyle titles at the D-I state championship, leading the Crimson Tide to a championship.

Watt topped a field of over 160 racers at the Coaches Series classic race, winning with a time of 14:09.2. He dominated his races in D-I, winning the 5K classic in 12:28.3 (1:10 ahead of the runner-up) and the 5K freestyle in 10:58.6 (about a minute faster than his closest opponent).

His status as the best in the state firmly established, he is slated to compete at Junior Nationals.

“Tyler’s a fantastic skier; he’s a great leader for our team,” Concord Nordic head coach Waters said. “He’s heading back to Junior Nationals, (one of the few) Concord skiers ever to go.”

Girls’ Nordic skiing: Ava Rothe, senior, Hopkinton High School

When you look at a team as dominant as the Hawks girls’ Nordic team, it’s hard to single out one skier. But with a third-place finish in the freestyle at the D-II championship, Rothe stood out among an ensemble cast as the Hawks finished second as a team in D-II and at the statewide Coaches Series.

Rothe was also the second-fastest Hawk skier across the line in the classic race at the D-II championship, finishing seventh, and was 10th in the freestyle and 13th in the classic at the Coaches Series, competitions featuring 24 teams from across the state.

“Ava has been a large part of building that strong culture within the team over the past few years and served as team captain this season,” said her father and head coach, Rob Rothe. “With training starting in the summer, to winter competitions during the week and many weekends, it’s amazing she’s not tired of me! From roller skiing in the summer heat to skiing up Pat’s Peak during 6 a.m. sessions before school, she has put the work in. The results speak for themselves.”

Teammates Elizabeth Clarner, Elizabeth Trafton, Hannah Bennett and Clara Locke, along with the Rothes, have turned Hopkinton into a juggernaut that’s making a name for itself outside of New Hampshire as well.

“(Ava) just finished up the New England Championships this past weekend, where five of the top 24 girls on Team N.H. were Hopkinton girls,” coach Rothe said. “She had two podiums for the weekend, taking third in the sprint and third for the relay. She is planning to keep skiing in college somewhere, but is still undecided.”

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