St. John Valley Sports in Review 2019 (Part 2)
Editor’s Note: The following is the second of two articles highlighting some of the top sports stories from 2019. This article highlights events from July to December. Part 1 featuring January-June was published Dec. 25.
Fort Kent was among several Maine towns that received 2019 BikeMaine Community Grants. These grants fund various bicycle and pedestrian projects and are awarded after the completion of BikeMaine each year. Any former host community is eligible to apply. The towns receiving the 2019 funds participated in 2018’s event. Fort Kent received $3,750 for the installation of two flashing pedestrian crosswalk lights. This infrastructure will enhance the connectivity of the Fish River Greenway multi-use path.
Three guest Canadian football coaches put on a safety clinic for the combined Junior and Varsity Valley Mustangs football teams at the multi-purpose center in Madawaska. “It was our first day in helmets and pads, and we wanted our community to know how seriously we take player safety,” Jesse Pettengill, head coach of the varsity program, said. In the off season, directed by its organization president Don Thibeault, the Mustangs made a huge commitment to player safety by spending $8,000 on state-of-the-art new helmets for players. The Mustangs are a not-for-profit organization with the goal of spreading a love of the sport of football, and teaching its skills to the population of the St. John Valley.
Tanya Bourgoin Jandreau, a commercial loan officer at Acadia Federal Credit Union, came in second place out of 425 competitors in her age group and ninth place out of 1,441 during the Tough Mountain Challenge at Sunday River. The Tough Mountain Challenge is a four-mile-long obstacle course that involves running, crawling and climbing.
Fans of all ages lined up for autographs, photographs, handshakes and hugs when NASCAR racer and hometown hero Austin Theriault met with them at DOC’s Place in Fort Kent. Theriault is a Fort Kent native and professional race car driver who had just competed in two NASCAR Monster Energy Cup races. Theriault said he was happy to be back in Fort Kent where he has many friends and family members, and a community whose supportive influences will follow him wherever his career and life takes him.
Nearly 300 anglers entered this year’s annual Fort Kent International Muskie Derby, which was held Friday-Sunday, Aug. 9-11, and open to fishing on the St. John River and its tributaries, according to Muskie Derby President Dennis Cyr. Of those hundreds of enthusiastic participants, it was Caleb Slocum, 24, of North Yarmouth who took home the top prize of $2,000 by reeling in a 45 ¾-inch muskie weighing in at just over 25 pounds, on the first day of the competition.
Fort Kent Community High School cross country coach Sarah Mulcahy qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic women’s marathon trials in Atlanta, which will take place in February 2020. Mulcahy, a math educator at Fort Kent, is a 2003 graduate of the school where she excelled academically and athletically. She was valedictorian of her high school class and participated on the tennis and volleyball teams. Mulcahy lives in Fort Kent with her husband Jonathan and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter Olivia and 2-year-old son Isaiah.
The search was underway for a new Fort Kent Community High School varsity boys basketball coach after head coach Derrick Cooper resigned from the position. Cooper, who led the Warrior boys varsity team to the playoffs all but one of the seasons he coached the team, stepped down for unspecified personal reasons. Cooper was a standout soccer and basketball player at Madawaska High School who went on to star in both sports at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. There, he was captain of the basketball and soccer teams as a senior. He went on to serve as an assistant basketball coach at University of Maine at Fort Kent before beginning his coaching stint at the high school.
Hunters wasted no time bagging bulls in Aroostook County during the 2019 Maine moose hunt. Garrett Albert of Fort Kent shot his moose in the Allagash area of Wildlife Management District 1 on opening day. Albert is an officer with Madawaska Police Department and owns a camp in Allagash where his party stayed during the short-lived hunt. Pennsylvania hunter Kim Horner felled his 744-pound bull in Wildlife Management District 2 on the second day of the 2019 season.
Cassie Daigle, 38, of Fort Kent became a member of a team of United States athletes who qualified to compete at an international kettlebell competition. Daigle’s performance at the Platform Summer Open in Moncton qualified her as a member of Team USA to compete in the International Kettlebell Marathon Foundation competition in Poland in November. To qualify for a spot as an elite athlete on Team USA, Daigle needed to achieve at least 650 kettlebell repetitions in a competition, which she did at the Platform Summer Open.
A group of 42 riders from the Dennysville Snowmobile and ATV Club based in Washington County traveled to Fort Kent and said the ride to northern Maine, as well as the hospitality they encountered in the St. John Valley, is worth repeating. The group traveled for about 12 hours with a total of 26 ATVs and stayed at the Northern Door Inn in Fort Kent, according to club president Derek Brown, 52. The outdoor enthusiasts made their way to Lakeview Restaurant in nearby St. Agatha where they ate dinner before arriving in Fort Kent and enjoyed a scenic journey to Allagash, where they dined at Two Rivers Lunch.
Aroostook County was well represented in the soccer playoffs as 25 teams from the area qualified for the postseason this year. Valley teams who qualified were the boys and girls teams from Fort Kent, Madawaska and Wisdom. The Van Buren boys also made it to the playoffs.
Community members donated materials and installed posts for a new batting cage for Fort Kent Community High School baseball and softball players to use to sharpen their athletic skills. Volunteers endured frosty weather for nearly five hours to install the batting cage on SAD 27 property located between Jalbert Park and behind the Fort Kent Elementary School. Fort Kent baseball coach Tracey Hartt said the batting cage has been an idea in the making for several years and could not have been realized without the support of the community.
The Fort Kent Community High School boys varsity basketball team hired Chad Cyr as its new head coach. Cyr, 40, who has extensive experience in teaching youth basketball, replaced former Warriors head coach Derrick Cooper, who resigned from the position in September. “The hiring committee really felt that Coach Cyr has a great connection with our current players,” said SAD 27 Athletic Director Eric Werntgen. “He’s an awesome communicator and will be great for our entire boys program.”
The Fort Kent Community High School Warrior girls soccer team became Class C runners up in the state. This was the second state appearance in two years by the Warrior girls under the guidance of head Coach Doug Cyr and his coaching staff, Michelle Lovley and Valerie McBreairty, the three of whom are only in their second year of working together.
Wayne Bernier, 54, of Allagash Adventures Guide Service had what most sportsmen would consider the hunt of a lifetime when he bagged a monster buck. The deer weighed in at 200 pounds with a mighty 20-point rack with a 31-inch spread.
Bernier dropped the buck with a 30-06 on Jackson Mountain in Allagash. Bernier said it is not the biggest deer he has ever shot, but it is the deer with the biggest rack.