June 06, 2020

Houlton considers move to Class C School’s enrollment has dropped to 385

Another Aroostook County high school will likely drop in classification soon.

Just weeks after Presque Isle High announced its decision to move from Class A to Class B, Houlton High is in discussions about going from Class B to Class C.

Athletic director Wayne Quint said Houlton’s enrollment is at 385 students this year. That’s at least 15 students below the Class B cutoffs for sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, cross country, track and field, golf and cheerleading.

The Maine Principals’ Association guidelines for most of those sports are 400-724 for Class B schools.

Houlton principal Michael Chadwick has met with the school’s coaches.

Quint said the school is waiting to see if the classification committee changes its enrollment figures. If not, he added, the school will not apply to go up to Class B.

Bruce Nason, the Houlton girls soccer and softball coach, said he is in favor of the change. The low enrollment hit home for him this fall when he had trouble putting together enough girls for a junior varsity soccer team.

“I think it’s time for us to go where we can be competitive,” he said. “In [Class] B we’re playing the bigger schools like MDI and Presque Isle. We should go to where our enrollment takes us.”

Houlton girls basketball coach Jerry Tweedie, whose Shiretowners were the Eastern Maine Class B runners-up last year, echoed Nason’s sentiments.

“The MPA makes standards for classification and they do it for a reason,” he said. “I think we should be where they say we should be.”

Nason said the school will likely try to stay in the Penobscot Valley Conference, but added his soccer squad would certainly benefit from playing some of the tough Class D teams in Aroostook County.

The classification switch would begin next year, Nason said.

Houlton played in Class A during the 1970s and was a member of Class A from 1971-80. The school dropped down to Class B in 1981.

It will certainly make the matchups between neighboring school Hodgdon into a more meaningful rivalry as the Hawks are in Class C.

“It is nice to have a close trip,” Tweedie said with a laugh.

Presque Isle was the final Class A school in Aroostook County before deciding in November to go to Class B Caribou dropped from Class A to Class B in 2001.

Jordan to be honored

Wes Jordan, the former Brewer High athletic trainer and longtime University of Maine trainer who died earlier this year, will be honored with a Distinguished Service Award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

Jordan is one of 11 individuals who will be recognized at a Dec. 17 meeting of the National Conference of High School Directors of Athletics.

Jordan worked at Brewer after he retired from UMaine, where he was the head trainer for 30 years. He was a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame, the State of Maine Hall of Fame and the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to individuals in recognition of their length of service, special accomplishments and contributions to interscholastic athletics.

Former PI standout at Easton

As a high school basketball player Rachel Underwood reached the heights of success – a Class A state championship with the Presque Isle girls team in 1997 and an undefeated season.

This year, as the new Easton girls basketball coach, Underwood’s goals for the Bears include winning a game after an 0-18 season last winter.

After her senior year at Presque Isle – the guard scored 11 points in a 77-49 victory over Portland in the state final – Underwood went on to a standout volleyball and basketball career at the University of Maine-Presque Isle. She graduated from UMPI in May.

Underwood is currently working at Easton High to earn certification for athletic training. She has also coached basketball and soccer.

There are a lot of differences between Class A Presque Isle and Class D Easton, as Underwood is discovering. For one, she’d like the Bears to run the floor more than they do now.

“The up-tempo [style] isn’t there,” she said. “I know coming from a Class A school we pushed and pushed the ball up the floor.”

Then there’s the difference in enrollment. When Underwood was a high schooler, Presque Isle’s enrollment was about 700 students. Easton has fewer than 100 students, and just 21 girls.

Even so, there are 10 high school students on the team and Underwood will likely bring up four eighth-graders later this month to participate in practices.

“I do have a bench to bring people in and out and we have some very talented young kids,” she said.

Roe sets Belfast record

The Class B Belfast girls swimming team kicked off its season Friday with a win over Class A Skowhegan, and a school record in the 50-yard freestyle.

Camilla Roe completed the event in 26.67 seconds, breaking the mark of 27.32 set by Ashley Randlett in 1999. Roe’s time also qualifies her for February’s Class B state championship meet.

Roe also won the 500 free and was on the first-place 400 free relay squad.

Jessica Bloch can be reached at 990-8193, 1-800-310-8600 or jbloch@bangordailynews.net.

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