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Fall sports dominate CCS championships

Girls Water Polo

The girls’ water polo team made it to 2nd place in Central Coast Section in a close 9-7 game against St. Francis. “In our minds it was a one point game because we purposely let them take their final shot undefended in an attempt to get a last minute counter,” co-captain Bianca Batista said. “We were trying to run this play right at the end but it didn’t work. It was a lot better than we did last year. We played really well as a team.”

Nia Gardner attributed the improvement from last year’s loss of 9-2 to the greater diversity among shooters. “Last season we relied a lot on one player and she’d be triple matched with two or three people on her,” Gardner said. “But this year, shots and our shooters were more spread out, so everyone was a shooter.”

Hernandez is pleased with what the girls have accomplished this season. “It was a great game,” Hernandez said. “I’m really proud of how well we played, and there was no question that St. Francis did not expect it to be that close. We gave them all we had, and we pushed them to the limit.”

Girls Cross Country

The girl’s cross country team ended with 3rd place at CCS, and individuals Junior Gillian Meeks and Senior Emily Aiken moved on to states with their 1st and 6th place finishes, respectively.

Meeks had a solid performance with a time of 17:59 for three miles. “CCS was a super competitive meet.” Meeks said. “The environment was nerve-wracking but also allowed us to perform our best.”

Aiken noted that the support of her teammates helped her perform her best. “We had awesome support during our race from our coaches, the boys team, and some of our amazing teammates who made the trip down to Salinas to watch us race despite not racing themselves,” Aiken said. “Of course, the atmosphere was pretty high-pressure and intense, but it was great to have so many people cheering us on!”

The team had just fallen short of qualifying for states as only the top two advanced. “The experience overall was bittersweet—sweet because Gillian and I qualified for state as individuals, and bitter because the team ran really well but we just missed qualifying for the state meet as a team.” Aiken said. “We came very, very close to second place, and I’m extremely proud of all the girls who ran.

Both Meeks and Aiken had strategies to reach their goals. “My strategy was to stick with the leader for the first mile, then push on the hill, and hopefully extend my lead from there.” Meeks said.

Aiken’s goal was slightly different from Meeks. “I knew that Gillian and Caroline (from Cupertino) would go out hard up front, and behind them would be a pack of 5 or 6 girls of about the same speed as me,” Aiken said. “My plan was to keep pace with them for the first 2.5 miles of the race and to kick past them in the last 800 meters if possible.”

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Senior Emily Aiken sprints through the course to earn a sixth place finish.

Boys Water Polo

The boys’ water polo team received second on Nov. 22 in the Central Coast Section (CCS) championship game against St. Francis with a score of 11-7. Boasting a more successful season than in past years, with an overall record of 18-12, they made it to the last round of CCS for the first time since 2004.

Gunn came back from a three-goal deficit in the first quarter with back-to-back goals from Ari Wayne in the second quarter. Both teams had even scoring in the second and fourth quarters. Coach Matthew Johnson was proud of the team’s performance. “We didn’t start very well and they definitely had more energy in the beginning, but we kept with it and battled back two or three times, which shows our resilience,” Johnson said. By playing consistently, the Gunn boys made it difficult for St. Francis. “There were a couple possessions with big swings in their [St. Francis’s] direction, but I’m really proud of the guys for just sticking with it and battling back,” Johnson said.

Although Wayne felt pressure before the game, the team maintained their strategy. “We wanted to play like we have been all season. It’s easy to steer away from the game plan during a big game with a lot of pressure, but we did a good job of sticking to what we know,” Wayne said.

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Girls Golf

Gunn’s girls golf team worked hard at the Central Coast Section (CCS) tournament, reaching second in the tournament and making it to the NorCal State championship. While St. Francis high school won first in the tournament, coach Chris Redfield is still proud of the team. “St Francis won but we still had no regrets: we played well, St. Francis just played better,” Redfield said. “I’m really proud of our team; they played up to their expectation and potential [and] I couldn’t ask any more of them.”

Although the team first began three years ago, Redfield believes that the team has always been strong, placing within the top three high school teams in CCS and advancing to NorCal each year. Captain Anna Zhou earned her success by placing eighth in CCS and eighth in NorCal, but also gives credit to the rest of the team for their own mental improvement. “Overall, our main improvement has been working on all parts of our game,” Zhou said. “Working out our physical and mental game helped a lot.”

At CCS, junior Tiffany Yang played against Aragon high school and Stevenson high school, where her main strategy was to be calm and make sure to “not lose temper over a small shot.” Additionally, she believes it was key for her to watch over herself and play her best. “In terms of nervousness, junior year for me was the worst and I unfortunately did not overcome it,” Yang said. “However, I still remembered to take deep breaths as people around were watching me.”

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The girls’ golf team poses together with their second place trophy on the CCS course.

-Compiled by Sam Acker, Sabrina Chen, Aayush Dubey and Lena Ye 

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