The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Winter sports previews

Winter+sports+previews
Courtesy Lifetouch

 

Girls’ Basketball:
Girls’ basketball shoots into their new season, led by eighth-year head coach Christopher Donlon. One of the most anticipated sports will soon begin, with their first game against Richard Montgomery on Dec. 5. To prepare for the season, the Cats have played in scrimmages against Holton-Arms, Jewish Day School, Sherwood and Stone Ridge.

Because they lost many solid seniors, the new starting five have shoes to fill. With height not being a big loss, it shouldn’t be too hard.

“We graduated three seniors last year, and [only] one of them started, so we have a lot of experience returning, which is great. Almost the whole team has started a varsity basketball game before, which gives us a lot of flexibility from game to game,” Donlon said.

The returning seniors, Eliana Nastase, Kate Kreisle, Rheem Tungcod and Maggie Cullen-Ising, have high expectations to live up to in helping the team make it far.

My goal as a coach is to get the team ready and help them achieve their goals that they set for themselves. The team overall wants to be a complete team this year, be more consistent in their efforts day in and day out”

— Coach Christopher Donlon

With a winning record of 12-8 last season, the Wildcats’ goal is to make it as far as possible and be the best team they can be. Donlon’s personal goals can help them achieve this.

“My goal as a coach is to get the team ready and help them achieve their goals that they set for themselves. The team overall wants to be a complete team this year, be more consistent in their efforts day in and day out,” Donlon said.

 

Boys’ Basketball:

Boys’ basketball bounces back into action, led by head coach Kevin Parrish. The highly anticipated WJ sport begins with their first matchup against Richard Montgomery on Dec. 5. In preparation for the regular season, the team has most recently scrimmaged against Poolesville.

With a new season also comes a new starting five. After a smaller lineup last year, this year the Wildcats will tower over their opponents.

“Last year we didn’t have much size; [however], this year we have a ton of size… It’s going to be harder for teams to match up to us,” Parrish said.

The Wildcats’ returning players, senior Ian Hochman and junior Jordan Silverstein, along with transfer B-CC student senior Isiah Nickelson, are expected to play a big role in the upcoming season.

After an 11-12 record last season, the goal for the Cats is to become more competitive within the 4A division, along with the team staying consistent throughout all games in hopes of going over the .500 mark by the end of the season.

“Show steady improvement throughout the season … We want to be able to compete with the teams in our division and beat the teams,” coach Parrish said.

 

Track:

Indoor track hopes to stride into their 2023-2024 season with success. Led by coaches Tom Martin, Ashley Corby and Bryan Hoffman, the Cats are gearing up for their upcoming season. With many returning members and new prospects, the team and coaches are optimistic for an exciting season.

“Returning 4×800 State champs and High School all Americans Mackenzie Raue, Zuzanna Hersorova, Carolyn Hultman and Megan Raue broke the school record in the 4×800 Relay and are looking to break the State Record in that event,” Martin said.

As for this season, Martin is looking forward to discovering which events freshman Mirae Dinaro will excel at.

After the girls finished eighth at the state meet and the boys finished 18th, the goal for the Cats is to improve their overall placings this year.

Not only will the boy’s 4×800 relay be a strong event for the Cats, but it could also have a chance to earn a state title with runners Calix McCormick, Liad Simhony, Kendall Murphy and Alex Kallmes.

To kick off the season, track’s first meet will be the “Polar Bear Meet” on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at Churchill High School since the Landover Sports and Learning complex is being resurfaced.

 

Bocce:

Bocce rolls into the new season and as the winter season approaches, the bocce ball team is excited to start the season with head coach Joseph Schultze. For those who are unfamiliar with bocce, it is an Italian game played with four differently colored balls for each team and a smaller, target ball. The goal is to get as close as possible with the four balls to the target ball. Bocce is a corollary sport in Montgomery County Public Schools meaning general education and special education students play together.

With many returning players, the upcoming season looks promising; however, wins are not the most important thing to the bocce ball coach. Schultze has voiced his enthusiasm for the new season and his goals for how the season will turn out.

“I am looking forward to the season. My goal is for all of our players and coaches to have fun and participate. I am not terribly concerned about wins and losses. We are going to be competitive this year,” Schultze said.

There are, however, some key returning players that are worth noting.

“The best returning players are Vincent Katchadurian and William Isola. We don’t want to talk about last year’s lack of wins!” volunteer coach Kimberly Perikles said.

With the addition of many new players, and the return of key players, the season is very hopeful record-wise. But whether or not the season games go the WJ Bocce team’s way, it is all just part of a great team and learning experience. The bocce team’s first game was Dec. 4.

 

Swim and Dive:

Swim and Dive has always been a powerful program for the Wildcats, and they hope to continue that streak. With many returning members and some great new prospects, the team is hopeful for the upcoming season.

The girls’ team has won states for two years in a row and hopes to replicate their success this season. However, many key swimmers have graduated, leaving a blank space in their roster.

“We graduated a lot of talent, so [winning states] will be difficult to replicate, but it is always the goal,” coach James Grimes said.

Although there are big shoes to fill, senior captains are looking forward to the season ahead and are excited to be leaders on their team.

“We have a group of truly dedicated and amazing swimmers who are more than ready to have some impressive seasons. Following the example set by our seniors last year, our captains are dedicated to creating a team in which everyone is invested in team success as well as having a positive experience. Blending the amazing talent we have on our team with our truly special team environment, I have no doubt that our team can be a true contender this year,” senior captain Healey Morgan said.

Blending the amazing talent we have on our team with our truly special team environment, I have no doubt that our team can be a true contender this year”

— Senior captain Healey Morgan

The boys, however, are hoping to improve their placing at states this season, as they did not get the standings they wished for last season. Regardless of placement, swim has always been a tight-knit community that values bonding.

“The best part about WJ Swim and Dive are the meets but also the bonding after the meets which brings together the whole team, win or lose,” senior captain Matthew Martinez said.

Swim and dive is a very large team, so it is easy to have grade-level divisions in the team. To overcome this challenge, the team participates in team bonding with team breakfasts after practice, pasta dinners and having a big-cat-little-cat, which consists of upperclassmen mentoring underclassmen. This year, Grimes hopes to continue to improve the relationship between team members.

“I plan to focus on more team building and fostering relationships between all four classes,” Grimes said.

Swim and dive looks forward to the promising season ahead and looks for support at culminating events including Metros on Feb. 10 at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center at 5 p.m. and States on Feb. 24 at UMBC at 10 a,m.

 

Poms:

After a great fall season, the winter poms season has officially begun! Poms is the only sport at Walter Johnson that is year-round, and the girls practice hard five to six days a week. All of this hard work and dedication has helped the team move back up to Division I for the winter season, which should be a great challenge and experience. One of the coaches, Tanya Ang, has set some goals she would like to accomplish during the season.

“Our goals for this season are to show up and surprise everyone with how strong our team is. Division I is highly competitive with teams who are all really good, but [coach] Kaleigh and I believe we are in a good place with what we are bringing this year. Most importantly, judging for dance competitions is very subjective, so if the team can go out there and do the best they have ever done, leaving everything out on the floor, and being proud of what they accomplished, then we will have succeeded. A clean, strong routine that shows energy and passion means we will have done everything we can do,” Ang said.

One of the key aspects that sets the WJ Poms team apart is the closeness of the team. Chemistry is one of the most important parts of Poms because of the coordination and trust required to perform a routine. Every person on the team is equally important and must pull their own weight.

“Honestly, no one person stands out. Each person brings a special piece to the team and makes the team as strong as it is. Our captain is Alexa Steinberg and our co-captains are Siena Fluegel, Danielle Trachtenberg, and Hannah Salerno,” Ang said.

The move up to DI was based on last season’s performance where the team placed at two of the three invitationals. The team didn’t place as high as they wanted at counties, but this season is looking even more promising.

“All the other DI schools have packed seating areas that day and we want to show how supportive our WJ community also is. It will be a green out, and we are selling ‘I heart WJ Poms’ shirts to help raise money for the team and for people to wear that day,” Ang said.

The first invitational is on Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. at Springbrook High School and counties are on Feb. 3.

 

Wrestling:

The wrestling team has a bright new season pinned on their calendar! Filled with a big roster and a big group, there is lots of promise for this season.

Last season, the wrestling team dominated many matches, and they were constantly a threat statewide. Four wrestlers last year qualified and did well at states, one finishing 5th overall.

This year, the wrestling team looks as good as ever, and have a few solid players returning. For the boys, the top wrestlers include seniors Anthony Levri and Zach Morales, juniors Sam Potter and Baghdan Kurepkin and sophomore Dan Gershon in their respective weight classes. The girls team features senior Emma Matalia, junior Madeline Barnett and sophomore Sonia Pegoue.

“We have a pretty strong group on the coed team, and I do expect us to be a solid top to bottom team. In our dual meets I expect us to be one of the better teams in the region. Individually, we have guys who were on the cusp of region and county placements last year, and with another year of work, another year of experience should help them break through,” head coach Brian Frantz said.

Additionally, the girls team is also looking strong as ever this year, capable of competing in advanced competitions.

“We have a strong girls team, we almost have a full roster of girls and a full schedule for them. So I expect the same thing from the girls’ regions and state placements,” Frantz said.

With a roster stacked with beginners, the wrestling team has a bright future. The new faces on the team are contributing to the growing energy of the wrestling team—a team poised for great things this season.

“We have a full practice room full of beginners now, and so I think the excitement around the program is pretty high. Now we’re just looking forward to getting started,” Frantz said

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Jeremy Silberglied, Staff Writer
Sophomore Jeremy Silberglied is thrilled to be in his first year with the Pitch as a Staff Writer. Jeremy is also his grade's class treasurer, and he loves playing sports in his free time.
Anna Zucconi, Online Sports Editor
Senior Anna Zucconi is excited to participate in her first year with the pitch as an Online Sports Editor. In addition to writing for the Pitch, Anna enjoys going to the beach and playing lacrosse.
Mackenzie Norris, Print Sports Editor
Senior Mackenzie Norris is excited to particpate in her first year with the Pitch as Print Sports Editor and Business Manager. In addition to writing for the Pitch, Mackenzie enjoys representing WJ on the softball field with some of her best friends and teammates.
Peter Kahrl, Business Manager
Senior Peter Kahrl is excited to participate in his fourth year with the Pitch as a Business Manager. In addition to writing for the pitch, Peter enjoys playing soccer and hanging out with friends.
Mateus Bouquet, Print Sports Editor
Junior Mateus Bouquet is extremely excited to get started in his first year with the Pitch as a Sports Editor. Along with writing for the pitch, Mateus is a huge football fan and his weekly mood is based on how the Commanders played.
Lily Tapparo, Senior Sports Editor
Senior Lily Tapparo is excited to participate in her first year with the Pitch as a Senior Sports Editor. In addition to writing for the Pitch, Lily plays soccer, is an officer for Best Buddies, and enjoys hanging with her friends.
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