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Fall sports aim to dominate league competition

The Oracle

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Football

This year the football team hopes to adjust to new staffing changes and the loss of many crucial seniors.

According to junior Mack Radin, this year’s team has great potential, and is aiming to make it to Central Coast Section (CCS).  “We are a fairly young team—the majority of the varsity players are juniors—but every single player is committed to the team and to working towards our goals,” Radin said.

Senior runningback Sean Lydster adds that while the line is young, the team is an experienced one.  “Many of our juniors are already two-year varsity players, and every single player gives his all to each and every practice and game,” Lydster said.

The team lost a fair number of seniors this year, but Radin says that the new players are ready to step up and fill vacated roles. New head coach Shinichi Hirano agrees that the team has the dedication and perseverance to make it far this season.

Their next game takes place against Capuchino High School on  Saturday, Sept. 21.

 

Girls’ Tennis

The girls’ tennis team hopes to step up to the competition after moving up a league from last year in the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Athletic League (SCVAL). Junior Anjali Herekar believes that through teamwork, they can achieve their goals. “We’re up against a tough league, but as a team we can do our best to match up against the competition this year,” Herekar said.

Senior Jenny Yoon says the increased difficulty of matches will have a positive effect on the team.“We’re looking forward to having more competitive matches,” Yoon said. “Even though we might not win as much we’ll still have a good time playing.”

Despite the team having fewer experienced players than in previous years, Herekar thinks the incoming varsity players will be just as capable as before. “Right now the team is looking really good, and even though we lost a lot of good seniors from last year, I think with practice and dedication we can win,” Herekar said.

The next game is against Milpitas on Monday, Sept. 23.

 

Boys’ Water Polo

As the season begins, coach Matt Johnson is already working on improving his team’s defensive skills. “We are a very offensive-minded team—we have a lot of boys who can put the ball away but we give up way too many goals,” Johnson said. The boy’s high-scoring 16-17 loss to Jesuit High School underscored their need for defensive improvement. Although the team aims for improvement, they were able to pull out a win against Paly with a score of 15-7.

The team only lost three starters from last year and is looking strong for a CCS bid. “Last year we had a rough year,” senior captain Coby Wayne said. “But this year we have a really tight group of high caliber players who play on club teams and have a lot of experience.”

The team is confident that they will have a good season. “We have more potential this year to win CCS than we have had in a very long time,” Wayne said.

The team’s next competition will be in the Schimdt tournament on Friday, Sept. 27.

 

Girls’ Volleyball

The girls’ varsity volleyball team has started off the season with skill and confidence. Senior captain Erica Johnston already has many goals for the  team’s upcoming season. “I just want to win,” she said. “I think this year we have the best team we’ve had in a while.” Coach Craig Bankowski agrees. “Our goal is to play as a team, which will lead to beating Palo Alto High School and winning the most competitive De Anza division,” Bankowski said. “Our other primary goal is to fill our brand new gym for every home game.”

Bankowski believes that the team is already strong. “Our strengths are limitless when we play as a team,” he said. “[We have] tough jump servers, huge hitters, fast diggers, big blockers and smart setters. We also have a tenacity to improve and attack the ball.”

Junior Tahra Knudsen agrees. “We have a well-balanced team skill-wise, and we all have that necessary competitive edge,” Knudsen said.

As the season begins, positive thinking is leading the way. “Our team has made many improvements from last year,” Knudsen said. “We are all ready for the hard work that is necessary to achieve our goals.”

The team competes in their next away game against Mountain View on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

 

Girls’ Golf

With the tournament season starting up, the girls’ golf team is working hard. This is the second year of Gunn’s official all-girls golf team, as last year there was finally a large enough number of girls to create a formal team. The team is busy with practice and scrimmages every day at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course (MUNI) and hopes to take home first place in CCS.

“We really want to do better than last year,” sophomore Tiffany Yang said. “We got second place in CCS last year [and lost] by one point, which was frustrating and disappointing, so this year we are focusing on doing our best.”

Both Yang and Lee also mentioned that making it to CCS was another goal.

Coach Christopher Redfield has high hopes of making it to States this year. “We are much more experienced than last year,” Redfield said. “In golf, being confident at these competitions is important, so having done it before will really help us a lot this year.”

The team’s next game will be at the Palo Alto Golf Course on Monday, Sept. 23.

 

Girls’ Water Polo

The girls’ water polo team started out their season strong, beating Paly 13-1. The team is hoping to continue winning during the season.

“We want to go five times in a row to league championship finals and win our third in a row,” coach Mark Hernandez said. “We also feel we have a shot to compete for CCS champion, at the very least we want to make the final four of CCS.”

The team lost four seniors this year but hopes to defend their two-year streak as De Anza division champions with a large crop of new underclassmen to support their four returning starters. “One challenge we have is that we’re a very young team,” senior captain Rachel Wong said.  “We haven’t all played together as a team for very long.”

The girl’s next game is an away game on Thursday, Oct. 3  in Saratoga and they encourage fans to come out for their games. “People are surprised to find that water polo is actually really fun to watch,” senior Lauren Johnson said. “Everyone should come to our games.”

 

Cross Country

The cross country team hit the ground running this season.  Although the team experienced the loss of crucial seniors, many freshmen have joined the team to close the gap.

“I see a lot of potential in this year’s freshmen,” senior Justice Tention said. “We have a very motivated team and I would believe we do as well as, or even better than we did last year.”

Team captain senior Jack Sloan has high hopes for his team. “I really want the new freshmen runners to improve because they are the future of our team,” Sloan said. “With their help, I believe that the team will be able to make state-level competition this year.”

The motivated team started practice even before school started. “We would have practice starting from 6 pm during the summer,” Tention said. “We really wanted to be prepared for our upcoming season.”

At a standard cross country practice, runners will do warm-ups for the first thirty minutes. After that, they split into groups to pick the route they run. While  there are those that want a long rewarding run, others may simply want a short relaxing jog. Letting the runners choose their own path allows them to set their own running pace.

At the team’s first meet, a lot of freshmen runners such as Tone Lee stood out of the crowd. Lee scored fourth place, despite being a newbie.

“I am excited to take my talents to Gunn,” Lee said. “I really enjoy running not only to stay fit, but also because it keeps me happy. I’m looking forward to a fun year with the cross country team. It’s like everyone is family.”

The team’s next meet will take place in Crystal Springs on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

 

—Compiled by Kush Dubey, Yuki Klotz-Burwell,  Christine Lin, Lucy Oyer, Kavya Padmanabhan, and Alvin Wang

 

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Fall sports aim to dominate league competition