Courtesy photos by: Jonathan Yong, Nicole Jacobsen, Audey Shen and Arjun Narayen
After an impressive 10-2 record and a second place finish in the 2011 Santa Clara Valley Athletics League (SCVAL) De Anza division, the badminton team is working hard to achieve last year’s standings. This year the varsity team is focused on rebuilding, as it lost 18 of 24 players from last year. “Although we have a few strong freshmen, it’s difficult to fill the gap because six of the 18 seniors last year were Central Coast Section (CCS) champions,” junior Koji Habu said. “We’re still doing our best, and we may pull off something yet.”
In order to adapt to the team’s inexperience, head coach Marc Tsukakoshi has largely shifted the focus of tryouts and practice sessions. “I’ve changed my philosophy on our tryout process,” Tsukakoshi said. “Skills based tests benefit the short term. We opened the doors to a spectrum of committed athletes we may not have considered in the past.”
According to Habu, the badminton team’s strength is the intensity of the workouts. “During a close match, our athletes love to tire out their opponents, forcing them to make errors,” he said. The team is famous for its various physical training regiments, and a typical practice usually consists of a series of footwork exercises. “Rather than have all events stick to a single drill, I am able to micromanage a collective of a groups to focus on something more relevant,” Tsukakoshi said.
This season, the boys’ baseball team has an overall record of 11-5 and 6-2 in league play. With this record, the team is aiming to make CCS, a feat which has not been achieved by the team in many years. The team claims that their success is partially due to their desire to win. “Something that motivates us is senior Graham Fisher’s motivational speeches,” senior Charlie Smith said. However, junior Chris Rea believes that the team can greatly improve by following through on basic plays. “We need to make the ordinary plays so that we do not put ourselves in a hole that we have to fight back out of,” Rea said. In addition, according to head coach John Harney, the team’s pitching performance has been through the roof and its offense is strong.
According to Smith, they are able to communicate with each other efficiently during game play. “We have been coming together as a team and making fewer errors all together,” Smith said. “They work as a team and balance each other out when they are on offense or defense.”
Furthermore, Harney believes that there is a good team dynmaic this year. “They are a great group of guys who work hard at practice every day,” Harney said. “The team is made up of mostly seniors. So most of this group has played together for four years and work well together.”
This season, the girls’ softball team has been on a winning streak with a record of 4-1 in league play. “In order to dominate, we are going to need to consistently put runs on the board,” head coach Leslie Conover said. “At the end of the day, we want to have the ability to duke it out with any team at any level and then we want to win those challenges.”
However despite the team’s success, the athletes believe that there is room for improvements. “Sometimes it takes us too long to get into the game,” junior Nikki Schwardt said. According to junior Casey Maltz, the factor that determines the outcome of the game is the mentality of the team. “There is usually one inning where we lose focus, and that can be the determining factor in how our outcome is going to be,” Maltz said. Even though there are areas that require improvement, the team is still strong in spirit and dedication. “Our main strength is our unity and willingness to come out and give it our all,” Maltz said. “Every game we play is for Gunn and we all love and respect the game so much.”
With the season going so well for the team, there is even more pressure on the seniors to do well. This season there are five seniors. “This is the last chance to leave a legacy on the Gunn softball team,” Conover said.
With the start of the season, the golf team is off to a great start with a 6-1 winning record. Coach Redfield shared some of the secrets to their success. “Playing golf at a high level is all about developing good fundamental skills,” Redfield said. “Our players are constantly working to improve all parts of their games.”
Apart from their hard work, the team has great spirit. Junior Avinash Sharma, one of the team captains, believes that the team is coming together well. “The team has great chemistry and has bonded quickly, which is a major factor that helps us follow through on our wins,” Sharma said.
Although the team is off to a great start, they will soon be playing against their long time rival, Palo Alto High School (Paly). Paly has so far matched Gunn’s record, with both schools’ only loss to Homestead High School. “Paly will be a challenge to beat, and our team is doing our best to improve and play better in order to prepare for the big game,” sophomore Anson Cheng said.
Even with all the success of the team, there are still some vices to overcome. “The team can improve on making practice productive rather than having a social gathering,” Sharma said. “There should be a balance between practicing seriously and having fun with the other teammates.”
The diving team has been having a great season this year. In the De Anza League, the team has 4 wins and no losses for the girls, and the boys have 2 wins and 2 losses. “The camaraderie within the team is really good,” head coach Brien Arakaki said. “All the members are willing to perfect or try new dives, which is really important in diving. The performance has been excellent, and everyone is doing the best that they can. I hope to have our kids place at league and have at least four people to get into Central Coast Section,” Arakaki said.
Despite the high level of performance that the team has been delivering, Arakaki believes that there are still improvements to be made, especially the athletes’ trusts in themselves. “The level of confidence can definitely be higher,” he said. “The divers need to trust that they won’t hurt themselves from the dive.”
Divers such as senior Emily Igler also make personal goals for themselves throughout the season, hoping to achieve them by the end of the season. Igler has two defined goals. “I am trying to make it into CCS, and I am also trying to get my twist,” she said. “So far, all of my dives are good, except for my twist dive, which I am working on. I enjoy the sport very much; overall it is very relaxing, but you get immediate gratification once you get the dive.”
This year, the swim team has been doing well in the De Anza League despite the loss of many seniors. So far the girl’s team is on a win streak with 4 wins and no losses, while the boys are at 2 wins and 2 losses. “We will definitely miss the seniors because they helped the team socially,” head coach Mark Hernandez said.
“But we have a lot of good returning and new athletes to the team. The boy’s team is doing a lot better this year. We will do much better in CCS and probably break a few records this year. Overall, I hope for the girls to get top three CCS and the boys to get top fifteen CCS. I would also like to see the boys break three records, and the girls to break five records this season,” Hernandez continued. Although the team is doing well and the swimmers are talented, there are still many aspects that can be improved on. “Our swimmers are very fast, but our wall starts and turns need some work,” Hernandez said. “Once they get that down, I think we will do very well.”
Senior Will Thorson believes that the team will have a successful season this year. “Overall, the practices have been going well and I think team wise everything is going well,” Thorson said. “It should be a good season. The great thing about swimming is that it is an individual sport where we all work toward a team goal.”
Although the gymnastics team has not participated in many meets this season, they have a promising future. “Our team has a really great dynamic,” freshman Natalie Byun said. “Everyone is friendly, and there’s a lot of support among us.”
This year, the team lost three seniors, but is coping well with the change. “This year we have some seniors on the varsity team that are very committed to get a lot better,” sophomore Rachel Mock said.
The team is currently practicing with Paly since Gunn does not have a gym to use. Although these schools are rivals, they have been working well together. “Practicing with Paly is beneficial because we get to know them really well and we cheer each other on during meets,” Mock said. “We are practically part of the same team.”
The team is currently practicing at the Twister Gym and working hard everyday. According to head coach Ericka Fusilero, the team is off to a great start. All in all, the team is off to a great start. “Everyone on the team is very supportive of each other and are always encouraging each other to be the best that we can,” Mock said.
Their next meet is on April 18 at Gymtown in South San Francisco.
After a few disappointing losses, the boys’ lacrosse team now has a 2-6 overall record. According to junior Eric Cramer, the team has had trouble dealing with the loss of several seniors from last year. “We lost some of our best offensive players, so our offense has been struggling to pick up the slack,” he said “The team is kind of rocky this year, but we are pulling it together.”
However, according to Coach Michael Blocho, players from all positions on the field have contributed to the team. “Our goalie [junior] Daniel Marcotte is standing strong in net and leading the defense with saves and clears while [junior] Justin Ziebell and [junior] Will Catlin are shutting down some of the top attackmen in the league and also doing a great job clearing the ball,” Blocho said. “On offense, we are getting some good production from [junior]Wade Berry, [senior] Jackson Gardner, and [sophomore] Anatole Colevas.”
Still, Cramer believes that the team has improvements to make. “We hope to get better after every match, plain and simple,” Cramer said. The team hopes to finish the season with a 6-7 record.
The team’s next match is against Leland High School on April 24.
This season, the girls’ lacrosse team has garnered an impressive 4-2 league record and is currently third place in its league. “As the year has progressed, we have played better and better, and as a team, we are really starting to gel,” coach Doug Arakawa said. “We did not even have our full team until four games into the season so I am very happy with how well things are progressing.”
Although the team lost three seniors from last year, the players have successfully adapted to the loss, according to junior Helen Carefoot. “Nearly all of our starters from last year are still with us, so that has been really nice,” she said.
According to Carefoot, the team largely contributes this season’s successes to its athleticism. “As a team, we are very tall and fast,” Carefoot said. “We are learning to be more aggressive on defense and that is really helping us win.”
However, Carefoot feels that the team still has areas of improvement to work upon. “For the rest of the season, we want to continue to improve our ground balls and draw controls,” she said. According to Arakawa, the girls are hoping to have a winning record and make CCS.
The team’s next match is against Sequoia High School on April 18.
With a current 1-8 record in league play, the boys’ tennis team is poised to make a comeback to finish off the season. The team’s strong performance in doubles is their most deadly weapon, whose consistent records often guarantee the team a win. “Although there are only three doubles matches, Gunn often wins all three,” senior varsity captain Joe Atlas said. “Then, only one singles player needs to win, as winning four matches out of the seven total ensures a match victory.” Despite this, the team is still struggling in this season.
Although the team’s league play is incomparable to last year, it has been improving in tournaments. “With all our strong players, we managed to place fourth of a total of 120 other teams at the Fresno tournament,” head coach Jim Gorman said.
A typical practice often consists of warmups, drilling and match play. According to Atlas, the team is concentrating on improving their volleys and doubles play in order to keep up their performance in doubles.
For the remainder of the season, Atlas hopes that the team will overcome the problems that plagued the singles players during the beginning of the season. “The team would like to finish strong despite suffering from injuries and absences during the beginning,” Atlas said. “Ideally, we would like to make CCS.”
Track and Field
The track and field team started its season strong with an overall score of 3-0-1. Even though the team was hurt by the loss of many seniors, underclassmen have filled the openings and the team is strong as ever. “It’s sad we lost a lot of seniors, but we still have a strong team,” sophomore Stephanie Do said. “There are a lot of good freshman so there is a lot of potential in the team.”
While some join the track and field team to compete with peers, others join to compete with themselves. Do sets goals throughout the season to motivate herself to practice and achieve more. “My three-hundred meter hurdles time is forty-nine seconds right now, but by the end of the year, I want to improve to forty-six seconds,” Do said. “When I beat my personal records and achieve the goals I set for myself, it gives me a good feeling. It shows me how much I have improved since the beginning of the year.”
Recently, the team faced Mountain View High School on March 22. However, the boys’ team lost 56-71 while the girls lost 53-74. Despite the loss, coach Phu Nguyen has confidence in his team. “Mountain View has a lot of good runners and placed second in CCS last year,” Nguyen said. “It only shows that we are getting better.”
The varsity team is using its loss as motivation to keep improving. Nguyen is unfazed by the loss and is still happy to see the constant improvement in his team. “I value personal improvement more than team wins,” Nguyen said. “I would rather see each member improve than to see the team win because as each individual improves his or herself, the team wins will follow naturally.”
The team’s next meet is against Palo Alto High School on April 19.