Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- First-year coach Brian Harrington has a vision for how he wants the Mount Anthony Union High School girls basketball team to play.
Now it is up to the team to buy into his philosophy.
"[Coach] has a good vision of what he wants to do," senior captain Kate Goodell said. "If we listen and do what he wants us to do, it will work."
The vision is simple: Get out and go.
Harrington is bringing an up-tempo style of basketball to Mount Anthony this year, trying to utilize the team's speed to overcome the lack of height on the interior.
"We are not real big," Harrington said. "Even with Brinkley [Legacy], our best post player, she isn't very tall. That was part of the motivating factor behind the up-tempo move."
But what the Patriots lack in height, the team makes up for in experience.
Legacy, Goodell, and Makayla Farrara are four-year varsity players for the Patriots and will be the captains this year, making up a solid nucleus to build the team around. Legacy will man the middle, Goodell will run the shot, and Farrara will be the shooter.
While the rest of the puzzle is still being put together, Harrington has 11 other players on the varsity squad that he is ready to call on.
"Everyone is recognizing that it is hard to play at [our] pace without having subs right behind you," Harrington said. "With our substitutions, while there will be some fall off in skill, there will not be a fall off in energy."
Carly Rogers and Jenna Crowley will be the other two seniors on the squad this year, with Rogers as another forward and Crowley as a guard. Juniors Meghan Bishop, Nikki Harrington, Morgan Hewitt and Keira Goodell will also rotate in as guards, while Maddy Main is the only other recognizable forward on the team.
Sophomores Kathryn Frasier and Michalia Glanovsky received call-ups to varsity this season after a year on JV, and Harrington will look to two freshmen, Brianna Legacy and Madison Little, to round out the bench.
"They are going to get some game time," Harrington said of his freshmen. "I tried to look at it not in terms of grad level, but who was going to be able to help us out. They haven't disappointed in the first week."
"Since we are seniors, we have to step up and be leaders," Brinkley Legacy said. "We have some young players on the team."
"We have to set the tone for everyone," Kate Goodell added. "I think we can do that, and I think we can have a better year than last year."
The subject of last year is still a touchy one for the three captains. While the team pulled off a shock upset of South Burlington in the first round of the Division I tournament, the Patriots went 7-15 last year. Just getting into the playoffs was a struggle.
As Goodell admitted: "We have a grudge against what happened to us last year."
For Harrington, his three captains will set the tone on what the team can do for the year.
"Ultimately, we will fare as good as they fare. That will be the ultimate prize for them," Harrington said.
For Farrara, the key for the year comes down to chemistry.
"Our attitude is very positive," Farrara said. "We are trying to become closer than we were in the past."
On the court, Harrington wants his team to pull the trigger on offense.
"We have a bad tendency of wanting to pass instead of shooting, and we turn the ball over," Harrington said. "If you are open, shoot the basketball. We aren't putting nametags on it. If you are open, shoot the basketball."
Defensively Harrington wants to pressure teams from end-to-end, something that the players are enjoying.
"I really like the tempo," Farrara said. "With the full-court press, it will throw teams off."
Harrington warned that the execution of his style may take time to get in place, but the schedule-makers for the Patriots will force the team into some tough games early.
The Patriots open against Rice on Saturday, then play Pittsfield, Mass. next Wednesday, then a three-game stretch against Essex, CVU, and Spaulding, three of the top teams from the Northern part of the state.
"We are looking forward to it, we really want to see how we are going to shape up," Harrington said. "That will tell us in the first couple of weeks if we can compete or not."
Saturday's contest with Rice is a double-header with the boys teams. The girls will tip at 1 p.m., with the boys game to follow after. BOYS BASKETBALL
Coach: Dan Sleeman (13th season)
Last year: 7-15, lost in quarter finals
The team: The Aaryngston Bibens era is over for the Mount Anthony boys basketball team.
Mount Anthony's Mr. Basketball, who holds school records and dazzled crowds over his high school career, graduated last year. But there is no time for a pity-party for the Patriots.
Instead, Sleeman welcomes back a huge chunk of last year's team. And with Bibens gone, Sleeman is looking to his depth to help fill the void left behind.
"It is one of those things that, this year, we could have someone different stepping up every night," Sleeman said.
A large number of seniors will lead the team this year, including Sean Brundage, Justin Burgess, Evan Sparta, Jason Redden, Ben Gelheiser, Alec Little and James Levin. Juniors Ethan Anderson, Carson Cushman, Devon Babson, and Brad Anair will help to provide depth, and Sleeman has called on two sophomores, Damon Burgess and Tyler Champagne, to get valuable varsity experience this season.
"I really feel we are 12 or 13 deep," Sleeman said. "Our strength is in depth and interchangable parts. We have a lot of long, lanky guys that can handle the ball and play out on the wings."
The team's depth will be tested early, as the team hosts defending state champions Rice to open the year, then the team will see Essex and Spaulding before 2013 is over. The team will also play New York rival Hoosick Falls in a home-and-away series, and will host Massachusetts school Monument Mountain in January.
"It will be a great challenge early," Sleeman said. "We will see how the chips fall."
Opener: Today vs. Rice, 2:30 p.m.
-- Geoff Smith
Coach: Scott Legacy (29th season)
Last year: 25-0, won seventh New England championship overall
The team: There's a lot of experience in the wrestling room for the Patriots, who won its 25th straight state title last March, then rolled to a seventh New England championship. But there's only four seniors, three of whom -- Jesse Webb, Rachel Hale and Austin Price -- all made their college decisions already.
Webb, the team's heavyweight, is coming into his senior season looking to decimate many of Mount Anthony's many records, including career wins. He also stands a good chance to become only the third MAU grappler to win four state championships.
Price comes into the season with a ton of confidence, having placed at New Englands and at Nationals after being injured late in the year. He'll slot in at 182 pounds.
Hale, the sole female on the squad, should fall somewhere between 120 and 126. She'll have her hands full though for a roster spot with New England placer Troy Gassaway and junior Taber Watson. Bailey Willard, at 138 pounds, is the fourth senior for MAU.
Junior Tyler Mattison will move up from 170, where he won a state title, to 195 as he has bulked up playing football this fall. Jack Luciano will remain at 220 and has momentum after participating at New Englands.
In the middle weights, Vincent Pagan, Jacob Woodside and Noble Shaler will fill the spots at 152 and 160, while junior Damon Young moves up to 170.
Young guys will take the small weights, with freshman Ashdin Schaefer at 99, Calvin Call at 106 and Tyler Raetz at 113. Dylan LaFountain (132), Justin Morse (126) and Darren Ruiz-Sauer (145) fill out the roster.
Opener: Today at Penfield tournament, Rochester, N.Y.
-- Adam Samrov
Coach: Kathleen Newton (16th season)
Last year: Boys 4th at states, girls 3rd at states
The team: Senior leadership will be key for Mount Anthony, as the teams each placed in the top five at the state meet last season.
"We have a lot of seniors and most of them are three or four-year athletes," Newton said. "There's a lot of talent and it's developed quite a bit in the past four years."
On the boys side, senior Andrew Brandmeyer will take the lead in the distance events after racing at New Englands in cross-country during the fall. Brothers Ben and Andy Seward will fill in the spots in the middle distances, like the 400 and 800. Nathaniel Durfee will primarily run the hurdle events, while Owen Page will make his mark in the jumping events.
Matt Strano, another senior, should be a big contributor in the distance and relays.
Some up-and-comers include freshman Aaron Hulett and sophomores Dakota Obenauer and PJ Seward.
"We have a lot of siblings on the team, the older ones bring in the younger ones, which is awesome," Newton said.
For the girls, senior Leniesha Williams will be a star in the sprints and will lead the 4x200 relay along with Chelsea Corrow, Taylor Haynes, and Taylor Gruber.
Raheemah Madany will be a solid option in the sprints, while sister Firdous could have an impact in her senior season.
The young talent is exceptional, with sophomore Grace Page coming back after winning the 400-meter state title. Jazmine Hollister, Asuka Kosaki and Abbie Crosier should rack up the points as well.
Opener: Today at Dartmouth College
-- Adam Samrov
Coach: Bruce Smith (9th season)
Last year: Boys 2nd in state, girls 3rd in state
The team: Looking to get back to the top in Vermont Nordic skiing, the Mount Anthony teams return with some good experience, but plenty of new skiiers, as well.
The boys will have 15 skiiers this season, while the girls will have 29 skiiers.
On the boys side, senior Luke Keenan will look to end his stellar career with another strong season, while the junior trio of Will Buckley, Andy Barlow, and Nick Altland will be in the mix for the scoring positions on the team.
"Keenan had his strongest performance in states last year," coach Bruce Smith said. "Will, Andy, and Nick: Those are the guys you will see in scoring position on the boys side. After that, we have some young and rising skiiers, but it is hard to say where they are at right now."
The team has been able to ski this year, practicing at Woodford State Park. With a lack of consistent snow, Smith said "it is hard to assess" how his team is coming along, although the real test will come once the races start.
On the girls side, senior Abby Malmborg and junior Molly O'Callaghan are Smith's two returning skiiers.
After that, Smith says a few girls will be in contention to place at races. Sophomore Erica Hale and seniors Emily Smith and Kinsey Boudreau will be in the mix, and coach Smith also pointed to two freshman, Emily Altland and Allie Boudreau, as potential top skiiers for the team.
The team will open with a sprint skate on Wednesday at Mt. Top, and if the weather is allowing, Mount Anthony will host the first skate race of the season next Saturday at Prospect Mountain.
Opener: Wednesday at Mt. Top
-- Geoff Smith
Coaches: Amy Thivierge and Erica Cummings (4th season)
Last year: N/A
The team: Coaches Amy Thivierge and Erica Cummings enter the year excited for the varsity dance team, as a strong core of returning dancers will help the team create even better performances this season.
"We are really excited because we have a veteran team," Thivierge said. "We feel like we can move forward and try some new things and put our best feet out there."
Seniors Keara Stemberg, Cheyanne Woodward and Gabby Loomis will lead the squad this year,while the team also includes seniors Alexandria Dufresne, Dana Goodell and Katherine Langlois.Juniors Erica Frost, Bridgett Evans, and MaKenzie Wicks also return to the team, while juniors Molly Center and Isabelle Holden are new to the team.
The team will once again look to be strong in hip-hop dancing. With such a strong core returning, Thivierge said that her seniors are stepping up to help create steps, while Cummings oversees the choreography.
The team will start on Jan. 11 at Burr and Burton, and will compete in three other competitions before the state even. This will be the first time in four years Mount Anthony will not host a compettion.
With the start of competitions not until after the new year, Thivierge said that the team will learn the routines in the build-up to Christmas, and will use the winter break to polish the routines.
Opener: Jan. 11, at Burr and Burton
-- Geoff Smith
Coach: Anna Swierad (13th season)
Last year: Berkshire League champs, 9-2; Girls: Berkshire League champs, 10-1
The team: Numbers are not a problem with the girls team, as 26 swimmers will compete for the Patriots. That number allows Swierad to strategize to put her best swimmers to maximize their scores.
"I have my first full group and then others I can put in the relays," said Swierad, the only coach in the history of the Mount Anthony swim program, along with assistants Carrie Fabricius and Anne Webster-Lang. "If I can field the whole meet, I'm in."
Some of the top swimmers for Swierad include seniors Kate Ahearn and Emily Barlow, junior April Foley and sophomores Bridget Ahearn and Phebe Hall. The Ahearn sisters will swim in the 50 and 100 freestyle, along with some backstroke. Barlow should swim in the distance events, like the 200 and 500, while Foley will swim in the short distance free and butterfly, following in her sister Heather's footsteps.
"April is really like a gymnast in a swimmer's body, she's awesome," Swierad said.
Lots of others are expected to contribute up and down the board, including juniors Cyonn Alexander, Taylyr Tobin, Abby Cohen, Baylee Ports and Rachel Rogge. Senior Emily Cross will swim the 500. Kara Sampsell is back after suffering an injury last year.
On the boys side, only eight are on the list after the team won its first Berkshire League title last year. But Swierad said just because the numbers are low doesn't mean the quality is diminished.
"I don't have as many boys, but I'm lucky because other teams don't have huge numbers either," Swierad said.
Ryan Spencer will be the main scorer as the breaststroke expert, while brother Andrew will be put into a few different events. Brian Steinhoff is the main swimmer in the butterfly, while Kevin Gorry, Connor Tilley and Austin Ulrich return. Jacob Rantilla is back as a freshman, while junior Sean Hamilton will contribute in the relays.
First meet: Boys win vs. Wahconah, girls win vs. Wahconah
-- Adam Samrov