Trending toward teamwork

As teams head into this season, they’re focusing more than ever on teamwork

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Men’s Cross-Country

The men’s cross country team went through what some would call a rebuilding year last year. They had lost a group of talented, experienced seniors from the year before and struggled to continue to compete.

“[Last year] was learning to let go,” junior co-captain Nick Leidig said. “Toward the beginning of the season, it was really hard to get everyone motivated but we pulled through halfway [into the season].”

The team took another hit when its most recent batch of senior runners all graduated.

“As a team, we don’t have a lot of returning runners,” Leidig said. “[Our goal] is to try to get as many freshman runners [as possible] to run with us. It’s tough to increase turnout, but we try to talk to middle schoolers during their track season and try to motivate them to come to a few summer practices and try it out.”

To prepare for the upcoming season, Leidig said that the returning runners, including himself, have put in about 400 to 500 miles of training each.

The cross-country team will look to build on last year’s experience and use their training to boost them through the season.

Women’s Soccer

The 2014-2015 women’s soccer team was filled with talent, but talent didn’t seem to be the lone recipe for success as they finished with a record of 8-6-2 in the regular season.

“I think we did decent,” senior captain Claire Zucker said. “Some of the girls didn’t work well together, but we had and still have a lot of talent. We didn’t win as many games as we could have.”

Despite this, the Hawks still made it to the postseason.

With the struggles of last season behind them, they’re ready to take those lessons and move on to this season.

“We learned a lot,” Zucker said. “We learned that it’s a team sport and that we can’t focus on the individual.”

The goal for the Hawks for the upcoming season is to make sure that they are supportive of one another. Zucker said that she wants to make sure that everyone keeps each other motivated throughout the season.

Women’s Swim

For the last two years, it has been rough for the women’s swim team. They finished both seasons winless, with a record of 0-8 both seasons.

The silver lining for them is that each year, they have shown progress and improvement.

Two years ago, the Hawks had just 35 points for them while they had 124.9 points against them.

Last season, the Hawks improved and had 42.4 points for them with 121.6 against them.

This season, improvement is still the trend.

“As a captain, I just want to see everyone reach their goals and do [well],” senior captain Victoria Loughe said. “I want to help them out, too. I know what it’s like to see yourself improve and I want that for the girls on this team.”

Volleyball

Two years ago, the Hawks were dominant in 3A Wesco, accumulating eight wins to just one loss, and finishing 12-5 overall. They, in heartbreaking fashion, missed out on a playoff berth.

The next year, on a team filled with experienced seniors and lofty expectations, the Hawks came close on every game but just couldn’t cross the finish line with a victory. They failed to make the post season and came out with a record of 3-11 overall.

For the upcoming season, only one member from the varsity team last year is returning. Senior Liya Ewing is taking the helm as the lone captain of the team.

“It’s nerve wracking [being in a leadership role],” Ewing said. “I know that a lot of players will be looking up to me. It’s going to be a challenge for me to remember that leading a team is not always being the best player, but more encouraging and motivating everyone to be their best.”

Fresh off a season full of disappointments and losses, the Hawks are more motivated than ever to come back strong.

“The number one thing I want is to win,” Ewing said. “I want to leave every game with the feeling that we tried our best.”

Along with an almost completely new team comes the transition of a new head coach. Former junior varsity (JV) coach Rene Noeun has now been promoted to take the coaching reins of this team.

“Because [Noeun] was our JV coach, I think it’s going to be an easy transition,” Ewing said. “She’s definitely going to push and I’m excited for that.”

Men’s Tennis

Last season, the men’s tennis team got off to a quick start and won three of their first four games. Afterward, the Hawks hit a rough patch.

Over the next stretch of games, the inexperience of the team showed, as there was only one experienced senior on the roster. The rest were juniors and sophomores.

The team lost the next six games before winning another. After that win, the losses continued throughout the rest of the season. They finished with a record of 4-12.

“As a whole, we struggled due to our young age,” junior captain Jeremy Ansdell said. “We didn’t have that many seniors on the team so we were inexperienced. Individually, we did have some strong players.”

That they did. Ansdell and his partner, now alumnus Henri Breuer, were able to make it to the state playoffs last year tied for 13th place in doubles.

With the struggle of last year leaving a bad taste in their mouth, the Hawks set out to improve.

“We still have a lot of team left to grow, but after seeing this first practice, I could tell that we’ve gotten a whole lot better than last year,” Ansdell said.

Ansdell said that the biggest struggle for the Hawks this year would be the turnout for the team. He said that they’ll probably have enough players for the varsity team but as a whole unit, junior varsity and all, they might struggle and even have to forfeit a few of the lower matches.

Ansdell said that their goals are simple: to build on last season and win more games as a unit than they did last season. He also said that he wants to see constant improvement.

Football

The Hawks shook up the Wesco division last year through their successful ground-and-pound style of play. They finished 8-4, made the playoffs and, on top of that, they made school history with their level of success – winning a playoff game for the first time ever.

The season ended with a loss against the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks. The offseason grind then began.

“We really focused on teamwork,” senior Ilai Wilson said. “We worked on a whole new offense with a lot of new players. It was a little hard to adjust because you get so used to the guys that you play next to during the season.”

Players also had to adjust to new coaching staff. In March, varsity head coach Tony Umayum officially announced his resignation. As a result, former freshman head coach Kelly Dougan was hired and took the reins.

“Coach [Dougan] is a great coach,” Wilson said. “He does a great job managing the players and he’s already pretty well known by the guys because [he is the owner] of Sorelli’s [Pizza] and because of his MTYAA [Mountlake Terrace Youth Athletic Association] coaching days.”

Coming off a record breaking year makes for lofty expectations. The Hawks anticipate another victorious season.

“We want to make the playoffs,” Wilson said. “We want to at least make it past the first round like last year. Ultimately, we want to fight and we want to win it all.”

Women’s Cross-Country

Last year, the women’s cross-country team dominated on a state level. They were the second best team in state and had a fair chance of winning it all last year.

“It was awesome! I was so proud,” junior co-captain Katherine Gustafson said. “We learned that every position is important. You never know when someone’s having a bad day and you’re going to have to step up and run at a higher position. Now we have everyone returning so I definitely feel like we can win.”

Senior co-captain Ella Schroth continued by saying that the experience of coming so close was able to bring them all together and solidified how important it is to support one another.

The cross-country team has spent all summer in preparation for the upcoming season.

“We meet and run every day,” Gustafson said. “We keep each other accountable for our mileage and our health. We do a lot of bonding which is contrary to the misconception that cross-country is not a team sport. It is and we really do show that.”

According to Schroth, they have a “go big or go home” mindset when it comes to this season.

The goal is clear – win the state meet and come out on top.

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