Boys’ Tennis works hard to succeed

By Alexandra Mork ’20 and Lauren Nehorai ’20
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Tennis team huddles pregame. Credit: Laurence Nehorai ’20/SPECTRUM

The boys’ tennis teams began the season with a strong start and are working to surpass the success they have had in past years.

The varsity team currently has a 12-0 overall record and a 5-0 league record as of press time. The team’s most recent match was a 16-2 win against Crespi High School on Monday.  They are working hard to achieve their ultimate goal of taking home the Division 1 CIF title.

17-year program head Chris Simpson said he has high hopes for the season and is confident in the team’s ability to remain the number one seed.

“My seniors and juniors came in firing, plus the freshman are so talented, it makes for a perfect recipe. The key is that we need to keep pushing forward and not stop here,” Simpson said.

Practicing four days a week for two hours as a team, players are dedicated to achieving their high aspirations.  They are focused on further improving their individual skills and team bonds after four freshmen have been introduced to the team.

“It is great experience [to be a freshman on the varsity squad] because we get to know the upperclassman and we can learn a lot from them,” Jonah Dickson ‘20 said.

Players competed in the All American National Tournament on Friday and Saturday in which they advanced to the finals. They lost to Palisades High School 3-6, advancing in ranking to second in the nation.

The JV squad is committed to reaching their high aspirations and hopes to further develop their skills in the sport. The team currently has a 4-1 overall record and a 0-0 league record as of press time. They started off the season with a 16-2 win against West Ranch on Feb. 24. However, the team lost 13-5 to their rival, University High School, on Feb. 28.

“I hope to go as far into the season as possible, and if we ever face [University High School] again, it will probably be another close match” Morgan Foster ‘20 said.

The middle school black team has also had a very successful season, with a 4-0 overall and a 0-0 league record as of press time. The squad is focusing on refining skills and preparing for future years of Wolverine tennis.

“We would like to continue what we did last year and continue our winning streak,” Mathew Paul ‘21 said.

The middle school red team has an overall and league record of 0-3. The team’s main goal is to grow their knowledge of tennis and teamwork.

“We have some upcoming matches that we hope to do well in, but our objective is to work hard and improve,” Lucas Grad ’22 said.

Baseball teams swing into action

By Luke Casola ’20
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Freshman player Brendan Kang ’20 steps up to bat. Printed with the permission of Aaron Park ’18

The baseball season has begun for the Wolverines.  The program competes on five levels: varsity, junior varsity, freshmen, eighth grade and seventh grade.

Despite a crushing 3-2 loss in last year’s CIF Championship, the varsity squad is looking to bounce back this season. The squad has won the CIF-SS Division I Championship in the past and looks to continue that success by bringing back another trophy. Prior to league, the team will have tournaments to improve.  The squad started the season strong, winning the Easton Tournament on March 7.  This season, the varsity team consists of two freshman, shortstop Drew Bowser ‘20 and outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong ‘20. Crow-Armstrong said that he is excited to get his first taste at a high school sport and believes that the team can do very well this season.

“[Our goal] is to win CIF, and I have loads of confidence that we will, but our team is very young, and I want these young players to grow together throughout the season,” Crow-Armstrong said.

Similar to varsity, the JV squad practices about six days a week depending on the game schedule.  With a current record of 7-2 as of press time, the JV squad is demonstrating hard work during games and practices.  However, the team can struggle at times because of the new roster. JV players said that they believe practices are definitely a great way to improve.  Despite the new roster, the team should eventually gel as the season progresses.

“As a team, I hope that we grow in chemistry and grow closer as group. I hope we can use that chemistry to be successful and win many games,” outfielder Sam Biller ‘20 said.

The freshmen team is composed of freshmen and a few sophomores.  The squad only consists of 11 players, so each athlete gets to play.  This is the first time that many players are competing at the high school level, and many freshmen said that they believe the program is very welcoming and wants the best from each player.  As the youngest team, much time is spent learning from the upperclassmen.

“This season, each and every person is doing what they can to help the team win games. Baseball is all about team effort and chemistry, and that all starts from our practices. Everyone is working their hardest and doing what they need to do to get better. We translate this work ethic and teamwork into our games. If we play our hardest and do what we do in practice, we are going to accomplish what we want in having a successful season,” pitcher Justin Spitz ‘20 said.

Program Head Jared Halpert applies the same mindset from the high school squads to both middle school squads.  The eighth grade teams consists of most players from last year’s seventh grade squad.  On March 16, the black team opened their season with a loss to Chaminade.  Shortstop George Cooper ‘21 said that he believes the baseball program is great.

“I am most excited for the school rivalries and playing against guys I grew up playing with. My favorite thing about playing HW baseball is the great coaching and atmosphere around the sport that the coaches provide,” Cooper said.

For the seventh graders, this is their first time that they will be playing baseball for the Wolverines.  Second baseman Chad Bacon ‘22 said that he is looking forward to playing with his friends.  Overall, the seventh grade squad is strong and shows great signs of improvement during practices. The squad will play in five games or more this season, depending on if they make playoffs. Outfielder Alexander Shane ‘22 said that he believes the team can win the championship.

“I’m really excited to play with this team this year because we have great chemistry together and we have lots of talent and we can definitely win the championship with this group of guys. My favorite thing about playing for this team is always being around my best friends and just having a blast playing the game we all love,” Shane said.

Track and Field dominates events

 

By Skylar Graham ’20
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Athletes leap over hurdles to reach finish line against Crespi. Credit: Skylar Graham ’20/SPECTRUM

The boys’ and girls’ track and field teams are having a successful start to their season. The program is split into four teams: varsity, junior varsity, freshman/sophomore and middle school. The head of the program is Jonas Koolsbergen. This season, the team also introduced two new coaches, Joy Eaton, Head of the Middle teams and Diana Woodruff.

The upper school track and field teams started the season strong, opening with the boys defeating Crespi 89-32 on and the girls defeating Louisville 66-54 on March 2.The Crespi win was in large part due to their success with relays, pole vaults and long jump all, receiving first place, and the girls dominating the sprinting events.  The team continued its winning streak at home against Brentwood, Oakwood, Pacifica Christian and Crossroads on March 7, with a score of 127 – 40.

“The team is extremely talented, has terrific work ethic, competitive spirit and passion. It is definitely an excited team to coach and be a part of,” Koolsbergen said.

Last season, the team excelled, going undefeated into the Mission League Championship. Seventeen members of the team made it to CIF playoffs individually, including 2017 varsity captain Mason Rodriguez ‘18.

On March 7 the team competed in the Tri County Invitational with a field of 32 teams. Overall, the freshmen-sophomore team, both girls and boys, placed very well in the sprinting events and the varsity team placed in the 800 meter and 2 mile races. Tierni Kaufman ‘19 had a clean sweep in the jumping events. The varsity team beat St. Francis 77-49 on March 16 and their Mission League rival, Notre Dame, 75-52 on March 23

The team competed in the Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational, and did extremely well according to Koolsbergen. All athletes competed against their grade instead of their specified squad on the team. There were many meet champions including Kaufman ‘19 in the high jump, James Chung ‘19 for the 100 and Giana Hubbard ’19 in the 100 and 200 meter. Chung ’19 also broke the freshmen/sophomore meet record for the 200 meter and Brayden Borquez ’19 broke the record in the 300 meter hurdles.

“I think that we are dominating when it comes to running events and the field events. Each meet is an opportunity to improve so we can show that we are a threat and [can make it to CIF],” shot put and discus thrower Josue Martin ‘20 said.

Currently the boys’ varsity team has a 6-0 overall record and the girls are 7-0. They will compete in the triangular meet vs. Brentwood, Oakwood and Crossroads on Tuesday at home, but the results were unavailable as of press time.

The middle school team introduced two new coaches, head of middle school team Joy Eaton and Diana Woodruff. The team kicked off the season this February and competed in their first meet vs. Oaks Christian School on March 21.

“We are off to a good start, and this team is big and talented and exciting…  It is going to be a terrific season.  We are in a position to have fun and do very, very well,” Koolsbergen said.

According to the middle school coaches, they have a great team and are improving every practice. The first couple weeks of training consisted of drills and long distance running to condition for the season and build up their endurance.

“There has been a lot of running and it’s been pretty warm, but everyone is working hard and trying to achieve their individual goals,” sprinter Josephine Amakye ‘21 says

Even though they are only a few weeks into the season, the runners feel that they are getting in good shape and believe they will prove themselves as a force to be reckon with. Their next meet is on Thursday at Notre Dame High School.

“Our coaches push us hard in practice because they want to see us win and be the best we can be,” sprinter Spencer Flippen ‘21 said.

Softball trains for triumph

By Matthew Allana’20

 

The varsity softball team has struggled in preseason, but with new coaches, they have said that they hope to redeem themselves in league matches. They have an overall record of 2-7 as of press time, starting the season with a 13-1 loss against Warren High School on Feb. 25. The squad’s most recent game against Louisville was on Tuesday, but results were unavailable as of press time.

“We didn’t do very well in the beginning, but we’re definitely starting to do better … I was really proud of the team for how we performed [against Poly],” first baseman Emily Nutting ’20 said.

The team’s first win was on March 11 against Poly, with a score of 6-2. Athletes said that one of the most memorable moments in the season were the three home runs scored in this match.

The team has experienced many changes this season, the most significant being that of the coaching. The former head of the program, Katie Griffith, left her coaching position to play in an independent league. This void was filled by Brittany Moeai, at the time a part-time coach who is now the head coach, and assistant Marisa Schwartz.

“It really benefited us to get that insight from such an experienced coach during our pre-season … although we lost a knowledgeable coach, Coach Moeai and Schwartz have a lot to bring to the table as well … they played at UCLA,” Nutting said.

Coaches have said that although softball can be challenging, it ultimately pushes the players to become better and strengthens their teamwork.

“Softball is a game of failure. This is one sport where you will fail more times than you will succeed. The players will strikeout more times than they hit home runs. This may be the hardest part, but it also allows the players of the game to recognize that failing at something will happen and when it does, it doesn’t mean it will stop them from achieving their goals,” Schwartz said.

Although their first league matches against Culver City and Chaminade, respectively, were cancelled, players on the middle school team said that they have been working hard to perform well in their upcoming matches. Their first league match was a loss against Marlborough on March 23, and they have an overall record of 0-1 as of press time. Players have not been assigned specific positions for games, as they will be rotating throughout the season. Athletes said that although they did not get the results they had wished for, they hope to make a comeback in future matches.

“I [had] never played a real softball game before [joining the team, so] I’m nervous but really excited to see how we do!” Maitlyn Fletcher ’21 said.

The middle school team also experienced coaching changes as well as a lack of players. However, team members have said that they have bounced back from these initial difficulties and hope to perform well this season.

“The coach … makes us work hard, but we’re definitely learning a lot. We didn’t have enough players at first to form a full team, but we do now, and our first game with Marlborough was a lot of fun,” Capri Woss ’21 said.

Swimming and Diving pulls ahead

By Casey Kim’20
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Swimmers prepare to dive during meet. Credit: Casey Kim’20/SPECTRUM

Swimmers and divers have started the season with confidence and high expectations of success. Water polo players, who were required to join the swim team, participated in the first meet along with the swimmers and divers on March 2.

“Last year the girls won CIF Division I, so hopefully we will win again. This season will be good competition for the girls,” JV swimmer and water polo player Abby Wiesenthal ’20 said.

All athletes competed in the first meet of the season against Crespi Carmelite High School and Palisades Charter High School at the Upper School. The Wolverines got off to a great start in the season-opening meet: boys’ varsity and JV teams defeated Crespi, girls’ varsity won against Palisades, while the girls’ JV team lost.

Swimmers said they are confident for the rest of the season after their successful first meet.

“We have ramped up our training slightly since December, and we’ve been training really hard. I think it has set us up to do well, and it seemed to pay off at the first meet. I think that we have a good shot at winning most of our meets, only because we have so many strong freshmen coming in, and all of our seniors are really good as well. We’ll be able to top the whole Mission League,” girls’ varsity swimmer Eve Hookstratten ‘20 said.

In the next two meets, against Saugus on March 7 and Chaminade on March 9, both the girls’ and boys’ varsity teams won, and advanced to 3-0 for the season.

The Justin E. Carr Relays Invitational honors a Harvard-Westlake swimmer who died on Feb. 22, 2013 during swim practice due to an undiagnosed heart condition. The girls were the Friday Night Lights Champions at the invitational, while the boys took second place.

The boys’ varsity and JV teams suffered their first loss to Loyola High School on March 16. They were able to recover during their next meet against St. Francis on March 23, as both the boys’ varsity and JV teams were triumphant.

The girls’ varsity swim team continues its undefeated streak, while the boys’ currently have an overall record of (4-1), as both teams have begun the season with a strong start.

VARSITY PROFILES: John Cahill ’20, Namlhun Jachung ’20, Henry Sanderson ’20, Mason Hooks ’20

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JOHN CAHILL ’20

Varsity Wrestling

What is your favorite part about wrestling?

“My favorite thing about wrestling is beating the other team and working hard everyday to improve myself at my sport.”

Who do you admire as a wrestler and why? 

“The person I look up to the most as a wrestler is probably Jordan Burroughs. He is a wrestler that went to the Olympics for team U.S.A., and he’s really good.”

 

NAMLHUN JACHUNG ’20

Varsity Girl’s Waterpolo

When did you start playing water polo and why?

“I actually started this year because it looked really interesting, and I wanted to try something new and play a team sport.”

What is it like playing with upper school students?

“All the girls on the water polo team are really fun, but they also know when to be serious. They’re really good role models for balancing their athletic life and their school life, and they guide us [freshmen] a lot.”

 

HENRY SANDERSON ’20

Varsity Boy’s Soccer

When did you start playing soccer and why?

“I began playing when I was two or three because my dad had me start, and I have played ever since.”

Has being on a varsity team helped you in other aspects of life, if so why?

“Being on varsity helped me with other aspects of life because our coach likes to relate to stuff to the real world too. He said ‘two plus two does not equal four because you can make your world however you want it to be,’ so I have taken that upon myself. If there is anything I want to achieve, I can strive for it.”

 

MASON HOOKS ’20

Varsity Boy’s Basketball

What is your favorite aspect of basketball?

“Basketball is really great because there are so many different ways that you can succeed. One can be a post player play inside and get rebounds, but one can also be someone that can shoot from the outside. You don’t need that much natural ability to be really good; you can just learn a lot.”

What advice would you give to younger players?

“Just keep working as hard as possible, and that is how you are going to make it. That is how you get better.”

 

Compiled and Photographed by Leila Dall’Olmo ’20 and William Seymour ’20

 

Girls’ basketball has varied results

By Luke Casola ’20

Girls’ basketball teams have demonstrated hard work and dedication throughout the season and have received the results that they desired.  The program competes on four levels: varsity, JV, eighth grade and seventh grade. The Wolverine mindset is focused on intensity and effort. They prove that “together with purpose” is a fitting motto to show the program’s commitment and unification.

This year, varsity has been the role model for the younger teams, finishing with a record of 22-3 (6-2 in league).  Not only did they have a winning record, but they also competed in the toughest division in the state, the Mission League, playing against other teams like Chaminade and Alemany.  The squad is coached by program head Melissa Hearlihy and assistant coaches Bridgette Jenkins and Ronald Sampson.  This year’s varsity squad consisted of nine players, three of them being seniors.  As the seniors, Justine Barraza ‘17, Sydney Tsutsui ‘17 and Dani Mirell ‘17 have acted as the leaders, teaching the lower classmen about varsity basketball.  Overall, this team consists of young players and should be able continue their success in future seasons.  Varsity is competing in the Open Division, which is the most challenging division during the CIF Playoffs.  The squad won their first CIF playoff game against Mater Dei on Feb. 18.  The squad played Lakeside on Wednesday but results were unavailable as of press time. With a win, the team will move on to play on Saturday.

“It’s amazing to play with teams that are competitive enough to be in the Open Division. It creates an exciting challenge and we’re looking forward to meeting it. I also know that we must be focused every time we step on the court to prove that we are worthy of an Open Division title,” guard Genesis Aire ‘19 said.

The junior varsity squad adds to the girls’ basketball team’s success and depth as a program.  The JV team competes in the Mission League and finished the season with a record of 13-7 (4-4 in league).  Similar to varsity, this team is composed of underclassmen, including two freshmen, Rileigh Repovich ‘20 and Mirabella Wong ‘20.  The squad is coached by Millie Junio and Allen Foster.  The JV squad tries to mimic the varsity team’s intensity and effort during practice, so that the hard work will show on the court in games.  Although there are not any playoffs for JV, the team was still proud its season.

“I think that this season we worked really hard, but we didn’t get the results that we desired. Although our team may not have gotten the results we wanted, we all stuck together no matter what. And, we still grew as a whole team,” Repovich, who plays forward said.

The middle school consists of two teams; red and black.  Both teams had a season to gain experience and to improve on their game.  The black team finished with an even record of 3-3.  Hearlihy oversees the middle school teams, incorporating the varsity offense and defense into their game plan.  Many black team players said that they feel positive about their season.

“I thought that as a team, we all improved individually and as a team. Although we did not make playoffs, I’m extremely proud of how hard my team fought throughout the season.  We did a great job overall, win or lose, everyone played hard until the last second of each game,” forward Naomi Attal ‘21 said.

The red team finished with an overall record of 1-4.  The squad lost to Campbell Hall on Jan. 31 in their last regular season game. Red team forward Quincey Dern ‘22 and forward Amelia Scharff ‘22 said that they both enjoyed playing on the team this season. Despite a losing record, the players look to come back next year with more dedication to win more games and improve as a unit.

“I think that our team played really well. At the beginning of the season, we could barely do anything, and we weren’t doing well, but we all worked really hard and came together as a team, and because of that, we started doing so much better,” Scharff said.

Boys’ basketball finishes strongly

By Emma Shapiro ’20

All of the boys’ basketball teams had a strong season with many wins. Each squad trained and practiced in hopes of being successful. All in all, each team demonstrated hard work and experienced camaraderie with their squad.

The varsity team looks forward to a strong end to its season. The squad maintained an overall record of 15-10 and league record of 7-3. According to Mason Hooks ’20, the team was able to have a successful season due to their commitment to the sport and the intense training in practice. Their last league game against Notre Dame High School resulted in a close victory of 78-69 on Feb 1. The squad was able to finish their season, second in the Mission League.  The team still has to compete in the CIF Playoffs, and is hopeful for winning the title. The squad defeated Martin Luther King HS on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the D-1A CIF Playoffs.  The team will play Loyola on Friday in the semifinals of the playoffs.

“We have stepped up our level of play, going to national tournaments and playing tough non-league games. So considering our pre-playoff ranking (top 4 seed in polls) and that we will finish no lower than second in league, I think the season has been a success,” program head and varsity coach David Rebibo said in an email.

The JV team is primarily composed of sophomore players along with three freshmen. With an overall record of 24-1 and league record of 9-1, the squad finished their season strongly. The team practiced six days a week and was coached by Steve Moore and Julian Benarouche. According to guard Brase Dottin ‘20, the practices consisted of lots of competition that lead to the strong record.  Dottin said that he enjoys playing high school basketball.

“I get to meet a whole bunch of new people. I get to play with people that I have never seen before, with different talents, different skills.  It is really fun,” Dottin said.

The freshman squad also had a strong season finishing with an overall record of 16-10 and league record of 5-7. However, the team lost its final game to Chaminade on Feb. 10. Coaches Dagem Asfaw and Lewis Dix assisted the team with their record by running drills to strengthen the team. The squad practiced six days a week with the JV team.  According to Dylan Ross ‘20, his favorite part about the season were the games.

“[The games] were the most exciting and competitive parts of the season, and were the most enjoyable.  My favorite game was our game against Notre Dame at Notre Dame, because the environment was awesome,” Ross said.

The eighth grade team had a challenging season with an overall record of 4-5 and league record of 4-5. They were unable to claim the Delphic League Championship title but they did qualify for playoffs initially. Rebibo uses the plays from the high school teams to prepare the players for the next level of play. According to Coach Pierson Williams, the team’s goal was to improve every day.

The seventh grade team had to focus on teamwork since most players had not played together before. However, they pulled through and had a strong season maintaining an overall record of 7-2.  The squad lost its final game to Chaminade on Jan. 31. The squad lost in the semifinals of the playoffs on Feb. 7.  Forward Oliver Wyman ‘22 talked about what he enjoyed during the season.

“Being on the basketball team has introduced me to a lot of people with a shared interest. I have had a lot of fun meeting new people and getting to play with them.  I am new to the school and just met many new friends,” Wyman said.]

Girls’ soccer shoots for the title

By Gautam Natarajan ’20

The girls soccer program consists of four teams; red, black, junior varsity and varsity. Varsity is led by program head Richard Simms and the JV team is led by head coach Gabe Robinson.

The varsity team steamrolled through the season with a 7-1 record, and they are a young squad that should continue their dominance and hopefully win some championships. The team ended their season at home against Marlborough with a 6-1 win to clinch their sixth consecutive league title. Varsity’s hopes for a late playoff run were cut short after losing in the first round to Huntington Beach 3-0 on Feb. 16.

Simms said he was very proud of the team’s accomplishments and looks ahead to the future.

“The varsity team had an outstanding regular season, only losing three games and repeating as Mission League champions for the sixth consecutive time,” Simms said.

Center back Carter Beardmore ‘19 said that the team has bonded over the long season and is a tightly knit squad.

“I cannot even imagine how different my experience at Harvard-Westlake would be if I was not on the soccer team. Many of my best friends have been made on the team. Our team is like a family, and I feel so close to each and every one of my teammates—no matter if they are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. My favorite part of being on the team is the sense of community and sisterhood that it provides,” Beardmore said.

The JV squad is another young team made up of mostly freshmen, and is looking to send talent to compete with varsity next year. The JV team is adding depth and success that their team already has, with a record of 4-2-2, finishing second place in the Mission League. The JV girls are hoping they can add to the quality of the varsity squad. They ended their season at home against Marlborough in a 1-1 draw on Feb. 6.

Midfielder Carly Wallace ‘20 talked about her season as a freshman playing JV and how she can improve for varsity and hopefully get a spot on the team next season.

“I think we all really improved as the season progressed.  It was a shame that we were not able to win our last game against Marlborough, but overall I believe we played really well.  We recently had our Senior Night, and we had a program dinner which was just one of the opportunities we had to meet the older players.  I also had the opportunity to play with the varsity team for one game, which was really cool and let me get a deeper understanding for the game of soccer, the values our program has and what it is like to be a varsity athlete in the girls’ soccer program,” Wallace said.

The middle school black squad was very successful during the regular season with an undefeated record of 5-0-1, with their only tie against the red team. Their best result was against Sierra Canyon in a 9-2 victory.  They beat Oak Christian in the semifinals of the Delphic League playoffs and won in the Delphic League finals 7-1 against Marlborough to win the league championship.

“This past season was a great introduction to the Harvard-Westlake soccer program. It got me really excited for the next six years of playing HW soccer with my teammates,” black team right back Tessa Augsberger ‘22 said.

The red team is made up of 16 players and finished the season with a record of 5-0-3. For the first time ever, both middle school teams made playoffs.  However, the red squad lost their semifinal game in penalty kicks to Marlborough on Feb. 7.

Simms spoke about the program and this achievement.

“The program has had a fantastic season at all levels.  For the first time ever, the middle teams placed in the ‘A’ Division and they have both reached the semi-finals. This is an incredible achievement,” Simms said.