Courier Publications/VillageSoup distinction

Grant, Nelson emerge to grab coveted athlete-of-year distinction

Waldo County high school standouts beat tough competition from Knox, Lincoln county athletes
By Staff | Oct 03, 2017
Photos by: Mark Haskell; illustration by Holly Vanorse Spicer Barrett Grant of Searsport, left, and Kylie Nelson of Belfast, the 2016-17 Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year.

Following the conclusion of each high school calendar year, the Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports department selects the best of the best from the Midcoast's athletic landscape, then highlights a handful of them and, eventually, spotlights two.

The task of whittling 20 semifinalists to 10 finalists and, ultimately, to two recipients can be tough, especially with so much athletic talent in the three area counties.

This year was no different as student-athletes from Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties were considered for the distinction of 2016-17 Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year.

After 10 male and female semifinalists were whittled to five finalists for each gender — and after much deliberation among the most deserving of the two batches of finalists — the athletes of the year have been selected.

On the boys side, Searsport District High School senior Barrett Grant was chosen from a talented group of finalists — including Camden Hills’ Josiah Krul, Mount View’s Devon Davis and Colby Furrow and Oceanside's Michael Norton Jr. — as the Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolboy athlete of the year.

It was the second straight year Grant was named a finalist and his first athlete-of-the-year honor.

On the girls side, Belfast Area High School senior Kylie Nelson was chosen from a talented group of finalists — including Camden Hills’ Charlotte Messer, Medomak Valley’s Gabby DePatsy and Oceanside’s Jillian Brooks and Alexis Mazurek — as the Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolgirl athlete of the year.

It was the third straight year Nelson was named a finalist and second straight year she was selected as athlete of the year. She also was the first to win the distiniction in back-to-back years since Ashley Geel did so for Georges Valley High School of Thomaston in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

For years, the honors were exclusive to student-athletes in Knox and Lincoln counties, but Waldo County student-athletes became eligible for 2009-10.

Since that time, a combined 16 schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year have been selected — 10 of whom have come from Waldo County schools.

Both races for the top distinction for 2016-17 were close, particularly the girls, as it was the second straight year it came down to Nelson and Messer as the final two considered. In the end, Nelson again was selected — by a razor-thin margin.

Students from Oceanside High School of Rockland/Thomaston, Camden Hills Regional High School of Rockport, Mount View High School of Thorndike, Belfast Area High School, Medomak Valley High School of Waldoboro, Vinalhaven School, North Haven Community School, Searsport District High School and Islesboro Central School are considered for athlete-of-year honors.

Courier Publications publishes three weekly newspapers, The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal in Belfast. The company also has two websites: and

The athletes of the year will receive a free year subscription to one of the company’s print newspaper or online websites, in addition to a gift from the Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports department.

Grant, a 2017 SDHS graduate, was a three-sport athlete for the Vikings, playing soccer, basketball and baseball. He scored 22 goals and added 17 assists on the pitch and was named to the Penobscot Valley Conference’s first team, in addition to being a few goals shy of breaking the school career scoring record. He went on to average 22 points, seven assists and 11 rebounds on the basketball court, was named second-team all-conference and surpassed 1,000 career points. He also was the catcher for the baseball team where he was a five-tool player, was a finalist for the Dr. John W. Winkin 2017 Mr. Maine Baseball award and helped the Vikings swing to their third straight state Class D championship. At the plate, Grant sported a .516 batting average, with 11 doubles, 20 RBIs, 32 runs, had a .603 on-base percentage and was successful on 53-of-55 base stealing attempts. The catcher also threw out nine would-be base stealers and pitched many crucial innings for the Vikings.

Nelson, a 2017 BAHS graduate, was a three-sport athlete for the Lions, playing field hockey, indoor track and outdoor track. In field hockey, Nelson scored a whopping 37 goals and added 14 assists, was named to the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s first team, was an All-State selection, was a finalist for Miss Maine Field Hockey and led the Lions to the state Class B championship game. In indoor and outdoor track, she combined to win six Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championships and three individual state titles in various events, including the pole vault, long jump and triple jump. She was first-team all-conference in those sports and the league's Class B athlete of the meet in indoor track.

More in-depth stories on Grant and Nelson will appear in the future.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at or by phone at 594-4401.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 03, 2017 15:14

Searsport and Belfast! Congratulations!

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