Winter Sports 2018-2019 Preview

After a 13-5-2 run last year and placing 2nd in SCVAL’s,  the girls soccer team’s season came to an end at the hands of top national team Archbishop Mitty in the CCS Open Division Semifinals.

Although the team only lost five players on Varsity, thoses loses will be felt during the year. “They were all really impactful players,” Khadija Abid (‘19) said. “The hardest hit was probably the defense, since we lost Ally, Bella, and Clara – two of our starting defenders and our starting goalie. We also lost Emily, our starting mid and the lead goal scorer.”

Senior Leela Srinivasan echoed Abid on the loss of Emily Tomz.

“She’s an incredibly skilled player, but more than that she really brought our team together.” Another big loss was goalie Clara Luehrs (‘18). However, Srinivasan believes in her teammates’ ability to rise to the role. “I’m confident that senior Kaitlyn Hanay will step up and fill in her footsteps,” Srinivasan said.

“There are a ton of super talented returning seniors and juniors, so I’m really excited about this years roster,” said Abid. “Leela’s incredible, we have Caroline coming back and both the Claire’s are healthy and uninjured, so it should be a fun season.”  With injuries plaguing the team last year and forcing players to sit out multiple games, the return of the players will be a huge boost for this years team.

Even though the new team hasn’t had much practice all together, they have been practicing the entire offseason for their clubs.

“Paly soccer has had a really successful past couple of years, so I’m excited to go out there and keep dominating,” Abid said. “Our team goals every season are always try to get the best record we can, win league, get as far as we can in CCS and state’s, and to beat Mountain View.”

With the losses of these key players, Srinivasan wants to bring the team together as one unit. “My freshman year on varsity there was a huge hierarchy on the team, and I really want om make an effort to make every player feel equally included and valued,” Srinivasan said.

After the disappointing end in the playoffs last year, the Vikings are looking forward to build off of last season, starting with their opening game vs Gunn on November 27. Some key games to look forward to are the December 4th game vs Archbishop Mitty and the January matchups against league challenger Mountain View.

Boys soccer has been a powerhouse in Paly’s past, completing several trips into the CCS. The Palo Alto Vikings’ Boys soccer team looks forward to yet another successful year after going 14-4-3 in the 2017-18 season. Returning seniors include Isaiah Schoenberger (‘19), Nathan Seto (‘19), Juan Aguila (‘19), and Leyton Ho (‘19). The boys aim to gain vengeance after losing CCS in the first division semifinal game.

“I look forward to making a deep push into CCS, and hopefully winning it all this season since we got close last year,” Marcus Ama (‘20) said. The team has lost seven seniors including defender Matt Knowles (18’) and goalie Kiran Misner(18’).

Players are optimistic about the young talent incoming.

“It’s always a surprise to see what underclassmen make varsity but hopefully we can get a couple guys, who are ready to contribute to the team,” Ama said.     

Young talent will be a factor in the team’s performance this year and in the future, so it is important for the incoming players to adapt to the fast playstyle and mentality of varsity.

Sharing playing time with last year’s goalie Kian Misner (‘18), goalie Jackson Druker (‘20) looks to lead his team.

“Keeping a strong minwdset is very important,” Druker said. “A confident keeper is extremely important for a team to succeed, but that confidence is built from the rest of the team leading me as well.”

The team has a goal of working harder than ever before, pushing themselves both mentally and physically. Endurance and conditioning is critical for a sport such as soccer where running is prominent. The boys completed runs, conditioning, and footwork during tryouts to test their physical capabilities. Timed two mile runs were completed to build endurance which is one of the most important factors for soccer players (especially a midfielder). Players completed 2v2 drills with a goalie to work on team chemistry and teamwork. This drill also tests players individual skill with collaboration and  communication playing a factor. 6v6 game simulation drills were also completed during tryouts in order for the coach to evaluate game like performance. The players also completed a vertical jump test, putting their hops to evaluation. Long jumps were completed to even further test players “bunnies” with distance involved. The results will show in the season opener on November 27th.

On the edge of our seats, Viking fans watched the Palo Alto girls basketball team battle Carlemont in the CCS semi-finals last season, unfortunately ending in a loss for Paly. Though they did not win the CCS title, it fueled them with with a desire for retribution. After last year, the team had an accomplished season, finishing first in league with a 27-7. The Vikings only lost one senior.

“There is a good amount of returning players from last year, which is very helpful because we can continue to bond, have that team chemistry with each other, and be able to trust each other, which is a major part of the team aspect,” Annie Niethammer (‘19) said. The powerful bonds between the players allows for increased levels of play and builds promise for a successful season.

 Though their history and chemistry alone as a team show their potential for great success, the girls have not been lax about improving and developing their skills.

 “This preseason, Paly has had open gyms that go from Monday through Thursday,”  Aanika Shaw (‘21) said. “We alternate between open gyms and strength and conditioning each day, everyone has been working hard and improved since last year.”

 But they will also be taking it back to basics: “We work on all the fundamentals and the little things to help us become a better team whether it’s on or off the court. Some of these include ball handling, shooting, conditioning, and more,” Shaw said.

 This intense preparation is bound to pay off, already kickstarting their goals for this season.

The players are focused on what they hope to achieve over the course of the year. “This season we will definitely be working on as many things as possible – especially defense,” Niethammer said. “Coach always tells us that defense wins games.”

With their first home game against Los Altos on November 28, anticipation for the season is growing.

“This year I am excited to become even more closer with all the girls, and of course winning,” Shaw said.

Niethammer also shared Shaw’s enthusiasm.

 “I am excited to get to know some of our new players and grow chemistry with them and also just to be part of a team that continues to grow throughout the season and seeing how much we have improved from the beginning to the end,” Niethammer said.

 The team is gearing up in preparation for their next season, promising it will be a very exciting one. Come out and support the Vikings on the 28th and throughout their season.

Adynasty has come to an end for the Paly Vikings boys basketball team after legendary coach Peter Diepenbrock and nine seniors left last season. The 2017 CCS champions broke records, being the first public school to win a game in open division playoffs, and were back to back Northern California Division One runner-ups in 2017 and 2018. This year, the team has a new identity and their work is cut out for them.

“It’s definitely going to be tough going into the season knowing that most of the guys playing won’t have that much varsity experience,” forward Matthew Marzano (‘20) said.

All five of last year’s starters, graduated so the new team is relatively young and inexperienced having only five returning varsity players. Despite this, the team has been working to build chemistry for the upcoming season hosting open gyms since last May, playing in various tournaments over the summer, and beginning strength and conditioning workouts earlier this fall.

“Something I experienced last year, being the youngest on the team, was that everyone embraced each other and became a family,” Marzano said. “We’re going to need that same teamwork and love from one another in order for us to succeed.”

    The team still has talent from players like senior Marvin Zou who is bound for a breakout season after being a part of the varsity team for the last two years. Zou has been referred to as “Future” by his teammates since his sophomore year, and now will finally have the opportunity to display his talents that coined him the nickname.

“He is a silent killer,” teammate Anthony Yu (‘20) said. “He is quiet and lowkey most of the time, but he gets buckets when you least expect it.”

Overshadowed by the senior starters who played the majority of the minutes last season, Zou didn’t have significant opportunities to make huge impacts on the game. This season, however, he will have one of the biggest roles on the team.

“I just want to be able to play with more confidence,” Zou said. “I’m going to have a bigger role on the team this year, so I want to make the most out of my last year and give it my everything.”

With the Diepenbrock era at an end, new coach Rodney Tention has taken over the boys basketball program. Tention is no rookie to coaching as he has been an assistant Division One coach for various teams including University of Arizona, San Jose State University, and Stanford.

“My main goal is to get better every time we step on the court, practice and games” Tention said. “We would like to win the league and continue with a good run in the postseason. Just as important is that we have fun.”

With their first game on November 27th against Sequoia High School, the teamhopes to start the season with a win and continue their reign of basketball dominance.


fter going 3-3 last year, placing 15th in CCS and sending two players to state playoffs, the Palo Alto wrestling team is looking to improve on last years results. After losing six wrestlers last year, the team will be lead by Senior Andrew Wang, a state qualifier along with being a two-time team captain and CCS winner. Along with Wang, there are 15 returners on varsity this year.

“Losing senior Calvin Grewal will be a small deficit,” said junior Dara Heydarpour, another varsity returner. “However, I believe we have a great lineup this year.

“Keep your eye on Dara Heydarpour, Adar Schwarzbach, Halo Lynch, Ashley Wang, Cade Creighton, Tyler Weaver-Escobar, Peter Graham, Zoë Wong-VanHaren, Charlie Williams, and Macguire Ferrell.” said Wang.

4th-year head coach Jon Kessler is optimistic about the coming year. “Our wrestlers understand the term ‘next man up’. Kessler said,“The open-weight classes promotes competition within the wrestling room and that’s how we get better as a whole.”

Along with the offseason and preseason practices, the team has also competed in some preseason tournaments. Heydarpour remarks that the extra practice has payed off.

“People who have come in the offseason and preseason have made major strides”.

Even though wrestling is a winter sport, the team has been grinding over the summer and after school in preparation of the coming season.

“We workout in the weight room twice a week with a trainer from Performance Gains” Coach Kessler said. “We’re working on everything the sport demands: technique, sparring, conditioning, strength training and mental toughness.”

With all the preparation that has been put in, expectations are high for this team.

“My goal is to place at the CIF State Tournament, with number one in mind,” Wang said. “The team goal’s this year is to become SCVAL champions, and send many wrestlers to the Central Coast Section Tournament.”

Coach Kessler continued on this, remarking “this is our best team yet. We’ve been putting in a lot of time during the offseason, so I’m excited to see the team compete. I believe their hard work will pay off.”

Overall, the team believes the sky’s the limit after their offseason work and can’t wait for the season to start. “I am excited to prove myself this year and show that the hard work I put in was worth it” Heydarpour said .

With the season starting on January 3, paly wrestling will be well equipped to enter another exciting season.