Palo Alto athletes power through spring season (recaps)

The Viking Staff

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The Palo Alto High School varsity baseball team started its season off strong after a recent history of rocky seasons. The Vikings are first in league play so far, with a 8-0 record and a 12-3 overall record. In his first year at Paly, head coach Eric Raich has focused the team on pitching and defense.

The Vikings shut down their biggest competition for the league title, Wilcox High School, in two games, which they won 13-6 and 4-2. These wins secured Paly’s place at the top of the SCVAL.

“We’ve been playing flawless defense and have had great team unity,” pitcher and shortstop Scott Witte (’10) said.

Moving forward, Los Gatos High School will be the greatest threat to the Vikings’ perfect league record and first place spot. The team hopes to approach every game with intensity to continue its success.

“We need to play through every game and every inning,” Witte said. “We need to keep our focus.”

Softball

The Palo Alto High School girls’ varsity softball team enters league play with a strong preseason record of 8-1. The team is currently 10-3, and 1-1 in its new league, De Anza SCVAL. The Lady Vikes started the season with shaky hitting, but have improved with star hitters Lauren Bucolo (’10), Caroline McDonnell (’10) and Gracie Marshall (’11). Several personal records have already been broken, starting with a perfect game by pitcher Kelly Jenks’ (’10) who threw 13 strikeouts against Woodside. In a later game against Milpitas, Bucolo hit two homeruns for a career best.

Under new coaching direction from Tim Anderson, the Lady Vikes will look to pick up some wins and stay in the upper division. With only one league win under its belt, the team sits in second place behind Mountain View in De Anza. One game to watch for will be Paly versus Mountain View on Apr. 26 at Paly.

Girls’ Lacrosse

The Palo Alto girls’ varsity lacrosse team is on a nine game hot streak. The team began the season with a 5-4 overtime upset win against Northern California lacrosse powerhouse Saint Ignatius (SI) .

The SI Wildcats had previously been 30-0 against CIF-Central Coast Section competition, dating back to the 2002 season.

Other key wins include a 12-11 win over league rival Los Gatos and 16-5 win against Menlo-Atherton (M-A). Last season, M-A knocked the Lady Vikes out of SCVAL playoffs in the semifinals.

The Lady Vikes suffered a tough loss to Menlo in sudden death triple over time with a score of 11-12.

The squad’s next key match-up will be against Burlingame on Apr. 30.

Boys’ Lacrosse

The Palo Alto High School boys’ lacrosse program came out strong in its inaugural season. The Vikings currently have a 8-1 overall record, and first place in the El Camino league with a 5-0 record. The team opened the year with four consecutive victories, highlighted by an 11-6 win over powerhouse Archbishop Mitty High School.

Although the Vikings suffered a loss to rival Los Gatos High School, they quickly rebounded with three additional victories over Woodside, Woodside Priory, and Los Altos High Schools.

Kris Hoglund (’12) and Cory Valenti (’11) lead the offense for the Vikings with 29 and 24 goals on the season respectively. Other key contributors include Zachary Spain (’11) and John Brunett (’11), who lead the team in assists with 13 each.

On the defensive front, first year goalie Josh Chin (’11) has proven himself to be a stalwart net-minder with a 67.7% save percentage.

Key match-ups in the ensuing weeks include games against Gunn High School and Corona Del Mar High School, which is currently ranked second in the state of California.

Girls’ Swimming & Diving

The Palo Alto High School’s girl’s varsity swim team kicked off the season undefeated in their first two league meets. The Lady Vikes hope to take first in league and place in the top five teams of CCS. After beating both Los Gatos and Monta Vista, the team has high hopes of finally winning CCS after falling close in second during the 2009 season.

The team is led by standout underclassmen including, Jasmine Tosky (’12) swimming the 200 freestyle, Margaret Wenzlau (’12) swimming the100-yard butterfly, and Molley Zebker (’13) also competing in the 100-yard butterfly.

Most recently, the team lost to Gunn due to a rigorous week of practice and the loss of key swimmers, Tosky and Sarah Liang (’11). The team still plans to dominate leagues and win CCS.

Boys’ Swimming & Diving

The Palo Alto High School boys’ swim team started off its season with an even 1-1 record in the highly competitive De Anza division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, first with an impressive win over Los Gatos on March 19, followed by a disappointing loss against Monta Vista.

The team graduated standout swimmers Mark Higgins (’09), Tim Wenzlau (’09), and Jamie Nakamura (’09), who powered the team to a 5th consecutive league championship last spring.

Despite the loss of school record holders Higgins and Wenzlau, the team has been performing well behind the leadership of underclassmen Byron Sanborn (’12) and Rollin Lau (’12).

“Our young talent has really stepped up,” Wattana said. “Everyone is working really hard to pick up the slack.”

The team is looking to claim its sixth consecutive league championship and continue the strong tradition of Palo Alto swimming. The Vikings face off against Lynbrook High School April 8.

Golf

The Vikings jump-started their season strong with a victory over Mountain View. Paly won 205-230 in its 2nd league match of the season. Aaron Lee (’10) led the team with an even par 36 for the course.

The following week, the Vikings lost a key match against the Menlo Knights.

Later in the month, the squad defeated Mountain View once again and also took down Los Altos in league play. Paly shot a combined 190, with Los Altos trailing with 202 and Mountain View with 204.

Continuing the win, lose pattern, Paly golf fell to Los Altos in league play by a score of 194-201.

To finish off the month, the team placed third out of eight teams in at tournament at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, shooting a combined score of 387.

The Vikings have hopes for a first place league finish, which look to hinge on a match against Gunn High School April 22 at 3:00 p.m at the Palo Alto Hills Country Club.

Boys’ Tennis

With six matches left before SCVAL championships, The Palo Alto High School boys’ varsity tennis team holds a record of 8-1. After placing 11th out of 116 teams at the California High School Classic Tournament in Fresno, the squad now looks towards some of its toughest matches of the season.

The Viking’s only regular season loss was against Monta Vista on March 25th, and was a close match at that, with a final score of 3-4 in favor of the Matadors.

With new talent and new traditions, the team’s chemistry has greatly improved.

“I really like dressing up before away games,” Jason Willick (’11) said. “I think it’s really helped with team bonding.”

The team now looks to the rest of the season with high hopes.

“Our one league loss was kind a fluke,” number two singles player Drew Pearson (’10) said. “I’m confident that we can go on to win the rest of our matches this season.”

Boys’ Track & Field

The Palo Alto High School boys’ varsity track and field team started off the season strong with a close loss to its biggest competition this season, Mountain View High School, in the first meet of the season, 66-61, and by dominating Lynbrook High School with a score of 79-43.

So far this season, Philip MacQuitty (’10) has broken two school records. He ran four minutes, 13.92 seconds in the mile at the Stanford Invitational on Mar. 27, and 1:52.37 in the 800-meter race at the St. Francis invitational on Mar. 20. He hopes to break the 3200m record of 8:59.51 later this season.

“I’m happy with how the team is shaping up and we have a good shot at a league championship,” MacQuitty said.

Other notable athletes to watch are Daniel Jones (’10) in the 100m and 200m and Bennie Williams (’10) in the high jump. In the throwing events, look for Haris Sultani (’10) in the discuss and Kevin Anderson (’11) in the shot put.

Girls’ Track & Field

The Palo Alto High School girls’ varsity track team is off to a rocky start as it heads into its third meet of the season. Having lost their its two meets, 87-39 against Mountain View and 71-55 against Lynbrook, the Lady Vikes are yet to prove that they can seriously compete against another track team.

Their strong points are Erika Hoglund (’10) and Emily Yeates (’10) for sprinting and Katerina Peterson (’11) for throwing. Susan Heinselman is also a stand out performer in long distance. However, the problem with the team is not how good the best girls are, but how many quality girls there are. Even with a few girls placing in a few races, we do not have enough girls to displace the other team. As the season goes on, hopefully the team will bring more quality girls up from JV, or else the Paly team will continue to come up short.

Badminton

The Palo Alto Varsity Badminton team (1-1) has already matched its win total from last year after 2 matches this season. After several successive years of struggle, the team dropped from the De Anza League to the El Camino League this year.

Coach Kara Prentice has expressed the team’s goal this year to win league and return to the upper league.

“We’re hoping that it’ll be a season in which we can actually win, and then build off of that so we can compete next year in the upper division,” Prentice said.

With such expectations, results so far have been relatively encouraging. With key performances by seniors Ivan Zhou (’10), Harrison Yu (’10) and Joseph Yao (’10), the team started off with a sound pounding of Santa Clara 28-2 in its first match. In its second match, the team lost a close-fought battle with Mountain View 14-16.

Editor’s Note: The girls’ track and field picture features sophomore Lauren Wong. The caption has been corrected to reflect this.