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Fall Sports Preview

Summer may not be quite over, but for the hundreds of athletes at La Jolla’s three high schools, the school year is in full swing. As we hit the fields, courts, pools and courses for the opening of the fall sports seasons, La Jolla Light takes a look at what to expect this season:

Football

La Jolla High School has a number of talented players returning from last season, and hopes to improve on a 3-7 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the CIF-San Diego Section Division IV playoffs.

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The Vikings’ offensive success could hinge on the performances of senior running backs Ja’Rodd Watson and Jerrell Agnew, who each ran for at least 650 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Senior Matt Mulvey, who missed most of last season with an injury, will quarterback the squad. Key offensive linemen include senior tackle Kevin Leyva and junior tackle Han Baker.

The Vikings’ leading tackler from 2006, Tony Sandoval, returns at middle linebacker. Senior Garret Anderson should be a key contributor at outside linebacker, and the defensive backfield has plenty of talent in Agnew, senior safety Kevin Miller, senior cornerback Spencer Moyer and junior safety Robbie Beathard.

Beathard, Moyer and Miller will all contribute to the receiving corps, along with speedsters John Jackson and Yoshi Rothman.

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La Jolla Country Day went 9-2 last season and captured its third straight Pacific League crown, but also graduated nine seniors. Still, coach Jeff Hutzler remains confident his club can be competitive.

With a young team quarterbacked by sophomore Derek Hatfield, he’ll rely on senior leadership to carry the Torreys. Seniors Andy Altman and Anthony Barkett will anchor both the offensive and defensive lines. Jon Hansbrough and Mark Hannum are also pillars of the program, at tight end and defensive end.

The Bishop’s School is coming off a season in which it went 7-5 and advanced to the playoff semifinals. The Knights lost just three starters from that team, so they are expecting to be competitive again.

Senior quarterback Tommy Wornham will lead the way, coming off a season in which he threw for 1,843 yards and 20 touchdowns. Wide receiver and defensive back Saron Hood is also a premier player who is a major college recruit.

Other players the Knights expect big things from include wide receiver/defensive backs Tim Costello and Nicky Cox, running back/linebacker Michael Strauss, linemen Hector Felix, Zach Franz and Austin Rutherford, and linebacker Will Peck.

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Girls’ volleyball

The Bishop’s School could again be one of the best teams in the area, coming off a 30-4 season that took them to the playoff semifinals. The Knights will be led by seniors Brittany Allen (defensive specialist), Laurel Casey (libero), Alex Pell (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Jacqueline Rhodes (outside hitter).

La Jolla Country Day also expects big things this season. Seniors Kenna Foltz (defensive specialist) and Andie Sabourin (outside hitter) should provide leadership, while big contributions are also expected from junior outside hitter Grace Murk and junior middle blocker Jordan Krant. Sophomores Cheyenne Giesecke, Mary Mack and Jessie Altman are also expected to be impact players.

Boys’ water polo

The Bishop’s School is the five-time defending CIF San Diego Section Division II champion, so don’t expect any sort of dropoff from the Knights this season. They graduated two All-American players from a team that went 26-6 last year, and will rely on a more balanced attack this year. With seniors Zealand Hoover (goalie), Robbie Chapman (center forward), Cyrus Mojdehi (driver) and Sam Fiske (driver) leading the squad, assisted by a capable crop of juniors, talent will not be lacking.

Cross-country

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La Jolla High School’s girls team is seeking another Western League title and hoping to improve upon last year’s second-place finish in the section final and eighth-place finish at the state meet. The Knights have the team to do it.

Juniors Nihal Kayali, Tess Plant, Courtney Avampato and Meagan Bautista all return. Runners seeking to fill the final three spots include Tatevik Simovoryan, Jenine Mejares, Erica Trimble, Christie Richmond and Ellie Lee. Freshmen Callan Parra, Katie Beathard, Natalie Russell and Cary Kennedy could also compete for starting positions.

La Jolla High School’s boys team hopes to improve 10 spots from its 19th-place finish at the state meet last year. The Vikings have a strong crop of seniors, complemented by some strong juniors and sophomores.

The Bishop’s School’s girls team ran to a CIF-SDS Division IV championship last season and graduated two key runners from that team, but expect to compete for a title again this season. The Knights will rely on senior Annie Kadota, juniors Naomi Wagner, Elizabeth Schulze, Alicia Triana and Laura Wyatt, and sophomore Michelle Wu as their core group.

La Jolla Country Day’s boys team looks to defend its Coastal League South and CIF-SDS Division IV titles. The Torreys will be led by junior Alex Poyhonen and sophomores Dennis Roth, Alex Fleischhacker and Jason McCallum.

The Torreys’ girls team lost two of its top five athletes, so will look for runners to improve quickly this season. The team will be paced by senior Ariel Abbott, sophomore Alexis Samuels and junior Sasha Binderow.

Girls tennis

The Bishop’s School has won the Coastal League title for the last five years, and the Knights are seeking a sixth. That effort will be boosted by 10 returning starters, including Kimmi Cox and Elizabeth Alexander in singles and captain Sarah Peluso leading the way in doubles play.

La Jolla Country Day advanced to the quarterfinal in last year’s playoffs, and should have a competitive squad this year as well. Sophomore Sophia Bursalya returns after winning the Coastal League MVP award last year and will be the No. 1 singles player. Senior Izzy Richardson will be the No. 2.

Field hockey

La Jolla High School is expecting big things in the third year of its program. The Vikings hope to be able to compete with some of the top teams and make it back to the playoffs following a 12-8 campaign in 2006. To do that, they’ll rely on a group of talented and improving players that includes junior forward Claire Mittermiller, senior midfielder Lauren Steinmetz, senior forward Gina Schumacher and senior forward Sandra Harpster.

Sailing

La Jolla Country Day qualified for the Pacific Coast Championships last season, and hopes to do so again this season. The varsity squad will include Danielle DeJoy, Tom Preston, Tyler Christensen and Gene Merewether as skippers. The crew includes Matt Mendenhall, Nina Wright, Adrienne Tran, Chris Boutelle, Clio Isascson and Spencer Dicks.