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Spring sports preview

Sun-splashed days have returned, flowers are blooming, and old-man winter is clearly in our rearview mirror. So as spring approaches, we take a look forward once again at the upcoming sports seasons at La Jolla’s three high schools. Here’s what to expect at La Jolla High School, La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop’s School this season:

Baseball

La Jolla High School is coming off a season in which it tied for the Western League championship and set a school record with 21 wins, and the Vikings expect to be just as competitive this spring. La Jolla will benefit from having a strong 1-2 punch in the rotation with Patrick Christensen (8-2, 1.99 ERA last season) and Wyatt Hoff (5-1, 2.43). Shortstop Trent Jemmett and first baseman Peter Sefton are among the top players in San Diego County, while catcher Zach Tonks and third baseman Jimmy Filter will also be difficult outs at the plate.

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La Jolla Country Day returns eight starters from a team that finished second in the Coastal League last year, so hopes are high for the Torreys.

Greg Wisenberg and Kyle Reese combined to win 11 games last year, and return to anchor a pitching staff that will also include Zack Campbell, Jake Hirsch, John Hansbrough and Sam Wisenberg. Catcher Mike McKenna is the glue behind a solid defensive group, and the Torreys return a lineup that produced 19 home runs last season.

The Bishop’s School is hoping to improve on its 9-11 season of a year ago, and has the players to do it. Senior second baseman Nick Cox will be relied upon for his bat and his leadership. Tim Costello will provide a spark to the lineup batting leadoff when he plays center field, and will also contribute on the mound. The Knights will also look to catcher Cade Sears, pitcher Raj Dharmapal and shortstop Chris Ludwig for contributions.

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Softball

La Jolla High School may struggle to compete in the Western League this season, but its young team provides promise for the future.

The Vikings return pitcher Jenny Russell, outfielders Kristina Mendez, Lauren Steinmetz and Darcey Elliott, and second baseman Lisa Frowek, and could start as many as four freshmen.

The Bishop’s School went 6-14 last season and has just two seniors on this year’s team, so could be considered to be in rebuilding mode. The Knights do return some talented individuals, though, in pitcher Natalie Camarda and catcher/outfielder Michelle Brunker.

La Jolla Country Day went 9-12 last year and could be in for another rebuilding season. Still, the Torreys have some individual standouts in pitcher Brittany Dawson, second baseman Ariel Abbott and shortstop Samantha Berenter.

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Track

La Jolla High School’s girls team is the defending CIF-San Diego Section Division II champion and the two-time defending league champion - with a large group of experienced athletes returning, the Vikings have a chance to do it again.

Long jumper Ashley Fu is the defending section champion, and Tess Plant-Thomas was the runner-up in the 800 meters at the section meet. Nihal Kayali is the defending 1,600-meter titleist. Other athletes expected to contribute include Courtney Avampato, Meghan Forrey, Gina Schumacher, Cicilia Nguyen, Allyn Meyer, Melia Plotkin, Rosie Jay, Amanda Clausen and Breanna Gomes.

La Jolla High School’s boys team went undefeated in league meets last season and was 10th among Division II teams at the CIF-San Diego Section championship meet, and the Vikings return a strong core.

They will rely on John Jackson in the sprints, Kevin Miller in the hurdles and jumps, Michael Conroy in the distances and Jose Aviles in the throws.

The Bishop’s School’s boys team has competitive athletes in nearly every event, and could repeat as conference champions. The Knights girls‚ team was second in the conference and is hoping to fill enough spots to be competitive again. Andy Altman will shoot for the school record in the boys shot put.

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Swimming

La Jolla High School’s girls team won a CIF-San Diego Section title last season, and expects to have a chance to defend this season. The Vikings will rely on Alli Knight in the 100-meter backstroke and 200 individual medley and Kelly Wahl in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.

La Jolla’s boys team was nearly as strong last year, winning the Western League and the City Conference championships and then finishing second in CIF. The Vikings boys will look for strong performances from Tyler Woods in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, and from Hunter Gettelfinger in both those races and the freestyle relays.

La Jolla Country Day’s girls team returns all its CIF qualifiers from last year’s team, which finished a program-best second in the Eastern League. Optimism abounds for the Torreys, who will be led by reigning league MVP and butterfly/distance freestyle specialist Melissa Berkay.

Coach Nate Heppner is also expecting strong performances from returning CIF qualifiers Norae Shakur, Chelsea Burns and Melanie Kaplan. Natasha Mayat, Claire Altree, Hallie Stevens and Kelly Janus should also contribute.

The Torreys boys team brings back CIF qualifiers in Henry Clausner and Ryan Frace. The team should also get solid results from Justin Pierson, Jihoon Yoon and Greg Moore.

Boys lacrosse

La Jolla High School is coming off a .500 season and is hoping to advance further in the postseason than it did last year. To do so, the Vikings will rely on returning all-league defenseman Tony Sandoval, attack Marcus Matibag and midfielders Zack Oleinik and Spencer Robertson. La Jolla Country Day comes off a 10-8 season, and is hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in the program’s history. The Torreys lost their three starting attackmen, so will look to fill holes up front. Coach Michael Tobey will rely on the experience of defenseman Doug Rogers, midfielder Damian Bagby and goalie David Farley.

The Bishop’s School is coming off a season in which it earned a share of the Coastal Conference title, and is hoping to repeat the feat this season. To do so, the Knights will rely on four experienced players.

Jack Kelly has won the goalie job as a junior, and Nick Eggmeyer will anchor the defense. Tighe Thomas is the team’s top midfielder, and attack Conner Thomas will lead the offensive effort.

Girls lacrosse

The Bishop’s School went 11-6 and 8-2 in league play last year, and with seven returning starters should be competitive again in 2008. The Knights will rely on senior defender Jacqueline Rhodes and senior attack Emily Johnson to bring their experience to the squad. Ali Bishop, Haley Geier, Jameson Kennedy and Caroline Markham will be key in the midfield, and Emily Reit will join Johnson at the attack.

Boys volleyball

The Bishop’s School went 13-11 last season, and new coach Rob Landis hopes to win a few more games this season and go deeper into the postseason.

Outside hitter/middle blocker David Stotlemyre and opposite-side hitter Corey Malkiewicz are expected to become team leaders, and Landis is expecting big things from freshman setter Alex Sammon.

Boys tennis

La Jolla Country Day may have lost a dominant player in Greg Hirshman, but the Torreys expect to be deep and talented this season. Returning players Sean Taylor, Max Ferre, Will Garth and Anthony Barkett will anchor the squad, and should get some help from promising freshmen Daniel Fairman, Warren Wood and Conner Jacob.


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