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Winter season promising for Bates athletics

The winter athletic season of 2008-09 yielded a sleighful of achievements to be proud of for the Bates Bobcat winter sports teams. Winning records for men's and women's basketball and squash, a combined five All-America honors earned by the swimming and diving and indoor track and field teams, and, perhaps best of all, a 13th-place national finish for the alpine and Nordic ski teams, accomplished while Bates successfully hosted the 2009 NCAA Collegiate Skiing Championships made it a winter to remember. Below is an early-season look at what's ahead for Bobcat sports in the winter season of 2009-10.

Brian Ellis '11 is off to a spirited start for men's basketball, averaging 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Men's Basketball

A former NESCAC Rookie of the Year, junior captain Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) is off to a very hot start in leading the Bobcats to an early 2-1 mark. The 6-foot-5 forward leads the Bobcats in scoring (17.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg) thus far. Three other veterans are averaging in double figures so far, including 6-7 junior forward Nick Schmiemann (Weymouth, Mass.) at 12.7 ppg, All-NESCAC and All-State senior guard Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine) at 12.0 ppg and 6-6 senior center Jimmy O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass.) at 12.0 ppg. Led by second-year head coach Jon Furbush '05, the Bobcats sport a very deep roster: nine players average over 16 minutes per game, and that doesn't include two big men -- 6-7 senior center Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) and 6-7 sophomore forward John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) who are likely to see their minutes increase as they transition from football season to basketball. Sophomore Thomas Deegan (Weymouth, Mass.) has been an early pleasant surprise, averaging 9.7 ppg after seeing virtually no action as a first-year player. Sophomore Kyle Philbrook (Auburn, Maine) leads the team in assists (11) and steals (5), and 6-0, 160-pound first-year guard Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) submitted an impressive 10-rebound game in the Bobcats' 82-75 win over Southern Maine on Nov. 24. The Bobcats play their home opener Tuesday, Dec. 1 against Thomas College, and begin NESCAC play the weekend of Jan. 22-23 with home games against Bowdoin and Colby.

Annie Burns '12 is the cool customer who directs the Bates offense at the point.

Women's Basketball

The Bobcats lose an all-time great to graduation in All-American forward Val Beckwith, but the early going suggests that they'll have an exciting season ahead. A strong first-year class includes 5-10 forward Taryn O'Connell, who led the team in points (21) and rebounds (5) in the team's loss at nationally ranked Southern Maine on Nov. 24, as well as 5-9 guard Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.), who scored 12 points at nationally ranked Brandeis on Nov. 21. A trio of solid veterans lead the team as captains and starters: senior forward Lauren Yanofsky (Belmont, Mass.), senior guard Kellie Goodridge (Merrimack, N.H.) and junior center Jessie Igoe (Lexington, Mass.). Sophomore point guard Annie Burns (Topsfield, Mass.), who led the team in assists and steals last year, heads a strong sophomore class that includes guards Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.), Kelsey Flaherty (South Portland, Maine) and Kristen Finn (Winthrop, Mass.). Bates plays its home opener Tuesday, Dec. 1 against Husson, and will open NESCAC play the weekend of Jan. 22-23, with home games against Bowdoin and Colby.

Junior captain Micaela Holland is already a two-time veteran of the NCAA Skiing Championships. (Photo by Lincoln Benedict '09)

Alpine Skiing

The Bates women's alpine skiers lose to graduation an exceptional class of seniors in Liz Thompson, Emily Sampson and Megan Papineau. But the Bobcats return junior captain Micaela Holland (Belmont, Mass.), already a two-time participant in the NCAA Skiing Championships, who is now the captain of a four-woman roster. The men's squad is in position to pick up any slack, however. Sophomores Bump Heldman (Auburn, Maine) and Alex Jones (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) and junior Ben Manter (Vassalboro, Maine) all came close to qualifying for NCAAs in 2009, and juniors Ross Brockman (Sudbury, Mass.) and John Canney (North Clarendon, Vt.) bring added depth.

Sophie Leonard '12 is one of several promising young returners on the Nordic ski team. (Photo by Lincoln Benedict '09)

Nordic Skiing

The Nordic ski teams face somewhat similar circumstances but with the genders swapped: the men's team loses two NCAA competitors in Sam Evans-Brown and All-American Sylvan Ellefson, but the returning women's side looks deep and talented. A trio of solid senior returners on the men's side include captain Harry Poole (Yarmouth, Maine), Brandon Cooper (Aspen, Colo.) and Ben Smeltzer (Waterbury Center, Vt.), and they are joined by seven first-year athletes. Junior Natalie Ruppertsberger (Plainfield, N.H.) returns after participating in her first NCAA Championship in 2009, along with a good number of veterans who weren't far off from qualifying as well in 2009, among them senior captain Abby Samuelson (Freeport, Maine), juniors Kirsten Gill (Jackson, N.H.) and Meg McClelland (Keene Valley, N.Y.) and sophomores Sophie Leonard (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Beth Taylor (Norwich, Vt.).

Co-captain Kush Mahan '10 is undefeated thus far, including a win over Trinity No. 1 Supreet Singh.

Men's Squash

Bates men's squash posted an impressive first season after the graduation of all-time great Ricky Weisskopf and the hiring of head coach Pat Cosquer '97 in 2009, finishing the year ranked No. 11. Bates is a good candidate to move up into the top 10 this year with a wealth of strong returning players, including last year's top six players. The returners are led by senior captain and First Team All-NESCAC player Kush Mahan (Kalamazoo, Mich.), who upset perennial national champion Trinity's No. 1 player when the Bantams visited Lewiston for the first time ever on Nov. 22. Fellow captains Will Katz '11 (Bronxville, N.Y.) and Jordan Greenberg '10 (Malvern, Pa.) occupy the team's second and third spots, respectively, while junior Matt Marchisotto (New York, N.Y.), junior Nick Echeverria (Washington, D.C.) and sophomore Bobby Burns (Greenwich, Conn.) provide a strong middle of the order. First-year talent expected to compete for spots 7 through 9 include Eric Bedell (Brooklyn, N.Y.), R.J. Keating (Short Hills, N.J.) and Nick Kourides (Rye, N.Y.).

Co-captain Whitney Roller '10 figures to be a strong factor at or near the No. 3 spot for the Bobcats.

Women's Squash

Bates women's squash expects to make a strong bid to return to the top 10 in the Collegiate Squash Association's rankings, where the Bobcats finished every year between 2002 and 2007. Their biggest step toward that end was the arrival of first-year Cheri-Ann Parris (St. Philip, Barbados), who has an excellent chance to emerge as the Bobcats' No. 1 player. That enables senior captains Hannah Laverty (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and whitney Roller (Haverford, Pa.) to slide down a spot to Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Standout returners also include sophomore Mimi Neal (Danvers, Mass.), junior Anna Hogeland (Williamstown, Mass.) and Second Team All-NESCAC junior Stephanie Cabot (Dover, Mass.). First-year Ali Bragg (Darien, Conn.) will also make an immediate impact in the middle of the team's lineup. Fellow rookies Liza Dorison (Longmeadow, Mass.), Carlie Rice (Princeton, N.J.) and Megan Ruth (Gladwyne, Pa.) are other strong additions to the team. Bates is ranked No. 12 in the country and is off to a 4-0 start.

Three-time All-American Katelyn Drake '10 returns for her final season at Tarbell Pool.

Swimming and Diving

Bates swimming and diving teams had an impressive debut to the season on Nov. 22, hosting a pair of conference rivals in Wesleyan and Trinity. Both the men's and women's teams defeated Trinity, while the women also notched a team win over Wesleyan. The women's team has added some promising first-year talent to a team that already includes a pair of returning NCAA Championship competitors in senior captain Katelyn Drake (Hudson, Ohio), a backstroker and individual medley swimmer, and junior Charlotte Green (New Canaan, Conn.), who competed in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races at NCAAs. While studying abroad this semester, Green also recently helped set a Scotland record in the 200 medley relay. First-years Catherine Sparks (New Canaan, Conn.), Katy Zingale (Sudbury, Mass.), Tara Dugan (Wilton, Conn.), all won events in the recent double-dual meet, as did sophomore Kara Leasure (Los Alamos, N.M.) and senior co-captain Sarah Reingold (Oakland, Calif.), making a strong indication that the Bobcats are ready to move up in the NESCAC rankings in head coach Peter Casares's third year leading the program. The Bobcats no longer have eight-time All-American diver Kelsey Lamdin, but will still look to score diving points with senior Annaliese Rudis (North Andover, Mass.) and sophomore Jessica Howard (Cumberland Foreside, Maine).

The men's team boasted an impressive class of first-year swimmers a year ago, including fly and freestyle specialist Ned Scott (Maplewood, N.J.), backstroker Nathaniel Depew (Hudson, Ohio), multi-event swimmer Dan Aupi (Branford, Conn.) and breaststroker Alex McKeown (South Windsor, Conn.), all of whom were key to the team setting a whopping 12 new program records. Junior captain Peem Chatikavanij (Bangkok, Thailand) heads a solid group of upperclassmen, including senior captain Jake MacNaughton (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and juniors Pat Carroll (North Andover, Mass.) and Byron Cooper (Chestertown, Md.), and the Bobcats will look to show that they, too, are a team on the rise in the NESCAC.

Mark Liu '10 is a key member of Bates' strong corps of throwers.

Men's Indoor Track and Field

Senior Rich McNeil (Lawrence, Mass.), a two-time All-American in the outdoor hammer throw, missed the indoor season last year with a broken foot. His return to a roster already deep across virtually all events raises hopes that the Bobcats can make a very strong showing when they host the New England Division III Indoor Championships at Merrill Indoor Gymnasium in February.

Key returners for the Bobcats include senior captain Jerome Bennett (Chicago, Ill.) in the pole vault and high jump, junior Tom Esponnette (Auburn, Maine) in the 1-mile run, junior Brett Epler (Wellesley, Mass.) in the hurdles and pentathlon, senior thrower Mark Liu (Lexington, Mass.), sophomore sprinters Mike Jiang (Madison, Conn.) and Nick Marinakis (Reading, Mass.), distance runner Troy Calandra (San Francisco, Calif.), senior distance runner Doug Brecher (Waban, Mass.), and sophomore distance runner Peter Corcoran (Stillwater, Minn.), all of whom were key to the Bobcats' efforts at indoor New Englands in 2009. Other standouts include junior sprinter Ryan Quinn (Watertown, Mass.), junior distance runner Devin Dilts (Roscoe, Ill.), sophomore pole vaulter Sam Goldstein (Memphis, Tenn.) and senior middle-distance runner Conor Welch (Newburyport, Mass.).

The indoor season starts with the Bates Pentathlon on Dec. 12, but it begins in earnest with a dual meet at MIT on Jan. 16.

Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan '10 is back to add to her three All-America awards.

Women's Indoor Track and Field

Bates women's track and field graduated a star in hurdler and middle-distance runner Izzy Alexander, but return senior three-time All-American thrower Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan (Topsham, Maine) and plenty of remaining talent from the 2009 team that placed sixth at the New England Division III Championships for a second straight year.

Duncan heads a strong group of throwers for the Bobcats, which also includes junior Sara Ellen Godek (Gilford, N.H.) and senior Laura Smith (Boulder, Colo.). Sophomore hurdler Tina Tobin, junior sprinter Dana Lindauer (Needham, Mass.), senior sprinter Molly Radis (Peaks Island, Maine), senior distance runners Katie Bash (Wallingford, Pa.) and Esther Kendall (Ridgeway, Ontario) and sophomore sprinter/jumpers Elizabeth Carleton (Westborough, Mass.) and Taylor Piers (Falmouth, Maine) also figure to contend for points at New Englands and perhaps beyond, while fifth-year head coach Jennifer "Jay" Hartshorn also sifts through a first-year class of 25 athletes.