After budget cuts, LHS swim, alpine ski teams hold their own

01 21 spts swim team

The Laconia High School swim team competes at a meet hosted by Bow High on Jan. 13. (Courtesy photo)

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Swimmers and skiers from Laconia High School are overcoming financial constraints due to budget cuts to score at area meets.
Laconia High School swim team competed Friday, Jan. 13, against host team Bow High School and seven other area high school teams, and members placed. That's without a local swimming pool available to the Sachems.
Both the swim team and the alpine ski team are funded outside of the budget, confirmed Craig Kozens, athletic director/dean of students at Laconia High School.
At the Bow meet, the swim team placed four members in the top 10 of their events, according to results from parent Lisa Phelps.
"Tim Maczko swam to eighth place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:07.96," Phelps reported. "He also swam the 50-yard freestyle and hit the wall grabbing 11th place with a time of 30.12. Eric Phelps swam the 500-yard freestyle in 5:40.84 for the first-place win. He also grabbed fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke with a 1:02.67, both best times for this freshman swimmer. Senior Kaitlyn Mowery powered through the water to grab 13th place in the 100-yard freestyle with an impressive time of 1:23.80, and she then took home 13th place in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:47.72. Freshman Alison Maczko continues to show great ability with a 19th place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 38.88. She then hit the wall, grabbing 18th place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:27.28. Abigail Bailey swam a great race of the 100-yard butterfly, putting up a time of 1:59.93, taking home eighth place. She was back in the pool swimming the 100-yard freestyle to take 19th place with a 1:49.10."
The swimmers were back in competition last weekend at a "mega-swim meet," the Bobcat Invitational, at University of New Hampshire (host team is Oyster River High School). Results were pending on that meet.
Phelps said the Laconia High swim team includes six members from Laconia and a group from Winnisquam.
"The school used to help out, because they gave the coach a stipend. The swim team members have always had to pay a little bit of money, and that paid for the pool," Phelps said.
Then, budget cuts took a hefty toll. "We've made it work," Phelps said.
Phelps credited Greg Hough, volunteer coach.
"He's a great coach. I think he's really helped the team. He's tried to get them all to do the different strokes."
Phelps also gave a nod to Kozens, saying after the high school swim team was cut, she met with him to ask if parents could continue the team if it was self-funded.
"A couple of us parents got together to think of how we could keep the team swimming. I got prices for pool rental fees and was able to find a coach who is volunteering his time. We had the kids put out a sign-up list to figure out the amount of interest. We didn't fund raise. We split the pool rental fees between all the swimmers," Phelps recalled. "The team T-shirt was donated by the Mowery family, who has a senior daughter swimming. Fortunately for us, coach Kozens has been great. He allowed us to keep the team under the NHIAA by paying the entry fee. I think it has worked out. The kids are swimming, competing and having a great season."
Hough said the swim team practices at a four-lane saltwater pool at the Gunstock Inn and Resort in Gilford. ("They've been gracious and wonderful and nice," he said.)
"A couple of the parents actually called Gunstock Inn to find out what was needed to revive the team. I brought it to the athletic director, and he had a discretionary budget, so he was able to get us into the meets," Hough recalled. "The next thing I know we were on."
Nine swimmers are able to use two lanes for practices. "It's been 100 percent group effort," Hough said. Although Hough said he doesn't get paid, parents cover the considerable costs of pool time and gear.
"It's very expensive for the kids, so the meet fees would have been another burden," he said, also extending appreciation to Kozens.
Athletic cuts are a part of school life, Hough acknowledged, but he said, "Your varsity sports, I just figured those would be safe no matter what they were."
Lower-participation sports such as swimming fill a niche, he said.
"Not every kid can or is inclined to take a hit or run around a track or chuck a ball through a hoop," Hough said.
"We're trying to keep it alive hoping that someone will pay attention and put some money into this thing," he said.
Laconia High ski team also relies on creative fundraising.
For the first time this year, Kevin Charleston trains the Laconia High skiers along with his Belmont High team, where he has coached for 14 years.
Charleston said, "It has been an advantage for both of these teams to train together," noting that alpine skiing is a "collegial sport."
Laconia has a "super rich history" when it comes to alpine or downhill skiing, Charleston said.
"We are competing for a plaque. We are competing for a state title," he said.
At 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, Laconia High and Belmont High alpine ski teams will compete at Gunstock for a Gilford High School-hosted event.

Players recognized at LHS football banquet

01-17 Football awards

The 2016 Laconia Football Banquet was held Thursday, Jan. 12. Award recipients pictured are:
Standing: Ryan Dee, Tyler Richter, Nick Drouin, Jake Ellis, Jeffri Long, Carter Doherty, Jacob Filgate, Kevin Nguyen, and James McDonald.
Seated: 2017 Captains: Ben Beliveau, Drew Muzzey, Ryan McCrea, Riley Roy, and Bradley Weeks. (Courtesy photo)

01-17 MVP

Jacob Filgate is the 2016 McDonald's Most Valuable Player. With Filgate are Laconia High School Head Coach Craig Kozens, left, and Larry Johnston, Brand Ambassador from McDonald's Napoli Group. (Courtesy photo)

LHS swimmers compete in Bow

Laconia High School swim team competed this past week against Bow high school and 7 other area high school teams. Tim Maczko swam to 8th place in the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 1:07.96. He also swam the 50 yard freestyle and hit the wall, grabbing 11th place with a time of 30.12. Eric Phelps swam the 500 yard freestyle in 5:40.84 for the first place win. He also grabbed 4th place in the 100 yard backstroke with a 1:02.67, both best times for this freshman swimmer. Senior Kaitlyn Mowery powered through the water to grab 13th place in the 100 yard freestyle with an impressive time of 1:23.80, she then took home 13th place in the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 1:47.72. Freshman Alison Maczko continued to show great ability with a 19th place in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 38.88. She then took 18th place in the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 1:27.28. Abigail Bailey swam a great race of the 100 yard butterfly putting up a time of 1:59.93 taking home 8th place. She was back in the pool swimming the 100 yard freestyle to take 19th place with a 1:49.10. The swimmers will be back in competition this weekend at a mega-swim meet at UNH.

After string of close losses, Laconia girls get second win of its first season in Division II

01 20 spts LHS girls hoops 2

Laconia High's Delaney Ross (No. 2) loses the ball on a fast break against Kennett High's Liz Cote (No. 30) and Isabel Wrobleski (No. 32) in a 57-56 win for the Sachems Wednesday. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A 57-56 home-court win against Kennett High Wednesday highlighted some of the struggles and successes of a team coming back from being second place at the State Tournament in 2016 but playing in a new division.
The last two minutes of Wednesday's game against Kennett High gave a glimpse of what Jeff Greeley, coach of the Laconia High girls' basketball team, has seen from the team in a rebuilding season.
The Sachems have battled in close games. On Wednesday, they won 57-56.
They have struggled from the line. On Wednesday, missed free throws, particularly in the final two minutes, almost sank them.
And they have played hard. On Wednesday, the team could have folded, particularly when Kennett mounted a comeback and took a 55-54 lead with under three minutes to play. Instead, the Sachems fought for rebounds, chased loose balls and played determined defense.
"Looking to build an atmosphere of winning, this group is young in varsity experience, returning only four players to the varsity roster, one of which got significant playing time in Helen Tautkus," Greeley wrote in an email to the Sun.
"Over the past two weeks we have lost four consecutive games by 5, 3, 6, 8, respectively, which speaks to the competitive nature in which we are playing," he wrote.
Wednesday's game, which at the time was played between two teams with only one win each, narrowed to a make-or-break situation. Laconia nursed a 57-56 lead with 2:16 remaining. Turnovers and fouls failed to budge the score. Tension built as Cheyenne Zappala went to the line on repeated fouls. The first free throw rimmed out. Three more would bounce off the rim in successive trips to the line for Zappala. But strong rebounding and a crucial final-seconds takeaway by Zappala kept Kennett at bay and preserved the win.
Leading scorers for Laconia High were Caitlin Beattie and Hannah Dow, each with 10 points; Megan Gaspa with eight points; Zappala, Delia Cormier and Abby Crowell each with seven points; and Jerra Kirk with six points.
At 2-7, Laconia High travels to Belmont on Friday for a 6 p.m. start.
"This is a crossover game, as we now play in division 2 and no longer in division 3," Greeley wrote. Greeley was referring to the decision of the classification committee at the NHIAA office to decline a petition for Laconia High girls to move down to Division III based on lower school enrollment.
Runners-up to Gilford in the 2016 NHIAA Basketball Championship in Division III, the Sachems now face Division II competitors such as Goffstown (enrollment 1,106), Portsmouth (1,098), Plymouth (686) and Bow (595).
The Laconia High girls started the season with a 52-20 win against Winnisquam on Dec. 9 but then suffered a rash of mostly close losses: Gilford on Dec. 13 (46-40); Bow on Dec. 19 (38-34); Hollis-Brookline on Dec. 22 (64-44); Merrimack Valley on Jan. 3 (63-58); Bishop Brady on Jan. 6 (45-42); Souhegan on Jan. 10 (45-39); and Goffstown on Jan. 13 (45-37).
Being "unable to capitalize on free throw opportunities" has proven to be the "Achilles' heel" for this year's Sachems, who are shooting below 30 percent from the charity stripe, Greeley wrote prior to Wednesday's game with Kennett.
"I'm looking forward to the next couple weeks as we look to build the on positive momentum we have created over these past two weeks. If we can clean up some of the smaller details defensively and offensively in the half court and convert from the free throw line, we will have the opportunity to work back towards .500," Greeley wrote.

01 20 spts LHS girls hoops 1

Laconia High's Jerra Kirk (front right) lunges for a loose ball while Kennett High's Cassidy Chick dives in a struggle for possession in Laconia's 57-56 win Wednesday. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)