Fall Sports Preview


Mark Habelt

Senior Rebekah Coleman and the Panthers will look to win the PAL tournament this fall.

Mark Habelt, Staff Reporter

Girls Tennis:


A year removed from a PAL tournament appearance, the Burlingame Girls Tennis team has plenty to look forward to for heading into the 2019 campaign, as the Panthers return 14 incoming seniors and numerous underclassmen with Varsity experience. 

Burlingame sent 10 girls to the PAL tournament last fall, as junior Maddie Wachhorst (#1 Singles), sophomore Vedika Bhaumik (#2 Singles), freshman Molly Wachhorst (#3 Singles), and Kelli Eng (#4 Singles) competed in the Singles competition. In the Doubles field, junior Anya Smith and senior Sofia Zaragoza (#1 Doubles), juniors Allie McHugh and Rebekah Coleman (#2 Doubles) and senior Samantha Goldstein and freshman Sofia Biddle (#3 Doubles) earned a playoff berth. In the first round against San Mateo, the Panthers made an inspiring showing early on, as Maddie Wachhorst won her match 1-6 6-3 7-6(4). However, San Mateo swept the rest of the matches, ultimately winning 6-1 and ending the Panthers’ season. 

The 2019 Panthers will have their work cut out for them, as league foes Menlo Atherton, Carlmont, and San Mateo, the top three seeds in last year’s PAL rankings, went 6-0 against BHS with a combined score of 43-6. The early season schedule will not afford the Panthers any breaks, as Burlingame will begin the season on the road at Woodside, which won last year’s Ocean Division title with a 13-1 record. In Week 2, Burlingame will travel to Atherton to challenge reigning regular season champion Menlo Atherton, which ended up going undefeated and dominating the PAL tournament field, winning both the first Singles and first Doubles titles. The Panthers will then come home for an intriguing matchup against Aragon, who BHS barely edged out to reach the tournament last year. In Match #4, the Carlmont Scots, who finished in second place in the Bay Division with a 12-2 record, will come to Burlingame looking to validate themselves as one of the top teams in the Peninsula. Following these daunting early tests, the Panthers have a chance to breathe as they travel to the coast to face a dismal Half Moon Bay team that went 1-13 last year.  To round out the first half of the season, the Panthers will face at home against Hillsdale, who BHS also knocked out of playoff contention, and historical rival San Mateo. If the Panthers are able to knock off Carlmont and amount a 6-1 record by the midway point in the season, they would be in firm position to compete for the #2 seed in the PAL tournament. 

Following the San Mateo match, the Panthers will defend their home turf against Woodside and Menlo Atherton on October 8th and 10th, respectively. To finish off the regular season, Burlingame will, in order, travel to Aragon and Carlmont, host Half Moon Bay, and travel to Hillsdale and San Mateo. It is reasonably fathomable to expect the Panthers to earn a top 3 seed in the PAL tournament this year, so long as they win at least two more games than last year, when they went 7-7 and earned the last tournament berth on the final match day of the year. The opening-day roster will look similar to last year’s playoff team, although Coach Bill Smith will need to find replacements for Samantha Goldstein and Sofia Zaragoza. With a year of postseason competition under their belt, a star-studded senior class, and a plethora of talent throughout the roster, the Panthers have a good shot to make some noise in the PAL tournament this fall. 


Girls Volleyball


Burlingame volleyball is due for a resurgent 2019 season, fielding a CCS-winning coach, a  young and talented roster, and plenty of motivation to right the ship after last year’s debacle. Following back-to-back appearances in the CIF Norcal playoffs in 2016 and 2017, the 2018 Panthers (6-8 PAL 10-17 overall) took a serious step back last year, losing four of their last five games and failing to reach postseason competition. While the losses of stars Natalie Ballout, Malina Baker, and Emmy Sharp certainly hurt, the 2018 season must have been a fluke, considering the Panthers retained plenty of talent from their dominant CIF-worthy teams, including Caroline Smith, Julia Everson, and Melanie Pitzer. This season, Coach K’Lynn Solt will build off a strong foundation of Eloise Uhrich, Naomi Johnson, and Polina Zamalin, as well as highly-touted junior Ashely Jones, who combined for 169 kills, 53 aces, and 56 blocks. The rest of the roster looks uncertain as of yet, since Solt will need to take a careful approach to constructing her team as she tries to return the program to its championship level.

Burlingame will open the PAL regular season on September 12 at home against reigning league champion Menlo Atherton, before heading off to San Mateo to take on the rival Bearcats. From there on out, the Panthers will face, in order, Woodside, Aragon, Terra Nova, Hillsdale, Carlmont, Menlo Atherton, San Mateo, Woodside, Aragon, Terra Nova, Hillsdale, and Carlmont. Judging by last year’s standings, Burlingame should handily beat San Mateo (2-12 record) and Terra Nova (Ocean Division champion). The Panthers should also compete well against Woodside (7-7), Hillsdale (7-7), and Carlmont (9-5), while Aragon (12-2) and Menlo Atherton (13-1) will likely sweep the season series. The Panthers can reasonably expect a top 3 finish in the BAY Division and a CCS postseason berth, which will put them back on track to making a return trip to the CCS title game.


Cross Country: 


Burlingame Cross Country will look to build off a brilliant end-of-season run that witnessed junior runners Brendan Creeks, Sonja Dommen, and Livvy Van Hamel Platerink all compete at the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. Creeks turned in an impressive showing in the 2018 CIF Division 3 5000m race, finishing 149th out of 203 runners with a 17 minute, 29 second time. Meanwhile, in the girls heat, Sonja Dommen ran 19:32, finishing 48th out of 214 runners in the Division 3 heat. Livvy Van Hamel Platerink ended up 108th with a 20:16 time. The three heralded athletes have made strong progress to build off of the 2018 season, utilizing swim workouts, yoga, and various running workouts throughout the summer to build up the wherewithal needed to represent BHS at the CIF meet in back-to-back years. Following the upcoming cross country season, Creeks and Dommen have a good chance to compete at the college level, as Creeks has drawn interest from Claremont McKenna as a potential NCAA Division 3 runner, while Dommen has her eyes set on the Air Force Academy. Look for BHS cross country to make a strong statement this season and send Creeks, Dommen, and Van Hamel Platerink on another late-November trip to Fresno.


Boys Water Polo


After a crushing overtime loss to Woodside in the first round of the PAL tournament last fall, the Burlingame Boys’ Water Polo team has something to prove heading into the 2019 season. Having lost eight Seniors from a 7-7 team, including the three team captains, to graduation, the Panther roster will primarily feature sophomores and juniors out to make a name for themselves. Incoming Senior Mason Rossi is the only returning player to have scored a goal last season, so the Panthers may face plenty of adversity as they aim to keep their heads above water in the PAL Bay Division. Burlingame will start off the season on September 9 against Carlmont (3-3 in PAL Bay Division last season) at the Panther’s temporary home – the Aragon pool – as construction on the $6 million BHS pool continues through the school year. Two days later, the Panthers will face crosstown rival Mills (12-0 Ocean Division) at Aragon before taking on Half Moon Bay (1-5 Bay Division) on September 17. To begin a four game road trip, the Panthers will get a welcome bye week before heading south to Woodside to avenge last year’s playoff loss against the Wildcats (4-2 Bay Division). The Panthers will then move on to Menlo Atherton (5-1 Bay Division), Carlmont, and Mills, before returning to the Aragon pool to take on Half Moon Bay. Following its second bye week, Burlingame will welcome Woodside and Menlo Atherton to close out the regular season, hoping to avoid a 7th-place finish and thus relegation to the Ocean Division. If the Panthers manage to sneak into the PAL tournament bracket, they will at least guarantee a repeat of last year’s success, all the while setting themselves up to out-do the 2018 team and actually win a PAL tourney game. While a PAL tourney title is understandably unlikely at this point in time, if coach Austin Carr can continue to develop the bountiful young talent at his disposal, don’t be surprised to see the Panthers holding a PAL tournament trophy a year or two from now. 


Girls Water Polo


The 2019 Panthers will have plenty to play for this season as they seek to avenge a demotion to the PAL Ocean Division following a last-place finish in the Bay Division. Coach Paul Felton returns seniors Alyssa Archie, Sydney Kong, Namiha Yasuda, Michelle Tam, Olivia Bollinger, and Isabel Downey to a team that looks to dominate Ocean Division competition, earn a promotion to the Bay Division, and possibly even seal a CCS playoff berth. While the loss of 6 Seniors to graduation will be tough to overcome, numerous JV players will help provide much-needed production, including Senior Ann Fitzgerald, Senior Nicole Fassina, and Junior Carrie Lei. 

To begin the 2019 campaign, the Panthers will face Capuchino in a home game at the Aragon pool on September 10. From there on out, Burlingame will visit Sequoia and Mills before welcoming San Mateo. To close out the first half of the season, the Panthers take on Terra Nova at home and subsequently head to the Priory pool to face Mercy Burlingame. The remainder of the schedule consists of Capuchino (road), Sequoia (home), Mills (road), Terra Nova (road), Hillsdale (home), San Mateo (road), and Mercy (road). Burlingame’s biggest competition will be Terra Nova and San Mateo, who finished a combined 21-7 last season, but the Ocean Division should pose no challenges to a team of seasoned Seniors and plenty of talent throughout the roster.