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UMFK appoints two familiar faces as head men's and women's basketball coaches

November 7, 2003

NR03172

Acting University of Maine at Fort Kent athletic director John Murphy has named Eric Werntgen to serve as head coach for the UMFK Bengal men's basketball team for the 2003-2004 season and has tapped Lucas Levesque to replace Werntgen as coach of the University's women's basketball team for this season.

Werntgen was appointed acting men's basketball coach last week after head men's basketball coach and athletic director Jim Graffam resigned to accept a position at Green Mountain College in Vermont.

Werntgen came to UMFK from Essex, Vermont in the fall of 1997 after graduating from the University of New England (formerly Westbrook College) with a bachelor's degree in American Studies. He started his college coaching career as an assistant with the men's program for two years while he earned his primary teaching certificate from UMFK.

In 1999, he was appointed the women's sports coach, under then women's head coach Jim Graffam.

The 1999-2000 season marked the first time that UMFK fielded a varsity program since 1992. The women finished 1-9 in a limited schedule.

Following that season, Graffam turned the reins over to Werntgen. As the schedule improved, the Ladies continued to struggle, going 2-19 and winless in their first year of Maine Athletic Conference play.

The Lady Bengals made some recruiting strides heading into the 2000-01 season, landing two of the top players in New Brunswick, Canada. However, the team continued to struggle to compete, finishing the year 3-22 and winless in the Maine Athletic Conference.

Werntgen played for Coach Graffam at Westbrook College where he was part of one of the best programs in the history of Maine small college basketball. During the team's six-year existence, they won 134 games and made two trips to the NAIA Division II National Tournament.

"Although I wish the opportunity came under different circumstances, it has always been a dream of mine to coach men's college basketball. It was extremely tough to leave the women's program after four years but under coach Levesque's guidance I feel they are ready to have a very special season. I will remain their number one supporter," said Werntgen.

With Werntgen moving over to the men's program, Lucas Levesque of Fort Kent has been named his successor as head women's coach.

Levesque, a 2002 graduate of Thomas College recently returned to Fort Kent, and served as assistant coach for the UMFK men's soccer team this fall.

"I am extremely excited about the opportunity, we have a great group of girls and I am looking forward to continuing the growth of the program," said Levesque.

He began his college athletic career at UMFK in 1997, playing on both the Bengal soccer and basketball teams. The Bengals won the New England NSCAA Championship in 1997.

Levesque then moved to Thomas College where he became a standout striker with the Terriers. Through the 1999-2001 seasons Coach Levesque was a three-time Maine Athletic Conference first team selection, a constant on the top of the MAC scoring charts and an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention his senior year. He graduated from Thomas with a Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management in 2002.

Levesque's coaching experience began in 1998 when he coached middle school soccer at Fort Kent Elementary School. He continued to work in youth soccer as an assistant for the Terrier Premier Club Team, an under-16 boy's soccer team in the Waterville area that competed in tournaments all over New England. Coach Levesque broke into the college ranks as an assistant coach with Thomas College in 2002.

The 1997 Fort Kent Community High School graduate played for the Warriors in 1995 and 1996 under coach Larry Murphy.

Over the past four years the UMFK athletic program has reached a number of milestones, including successfully transitioning most of the school's teams into division II of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, first as members of the Maine Athletic Conference, and more recently through competition in the Sunrise Conference.

In addition, University teams competing in soccer, basketball and alpine skiing have received regional rankings during the same time.

Currently, UMFK men's and women's teams in soccer and basketball compete through the Sunrise Conference in Division II of the NAIA. The alpine ski team competes in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.