2022 Fall Sports Preview: Rising leaders and young talent

August 29, 2022

Girls’ Golf

Senior Brooklyn Arcenal drives the ball long distance in the girls’ golf practice at San Bruno Golf Center on Aug. 25. (Arshia Chakravartti)

Following a surge in participation last season, girls’ golf is expected to come back stronger than before. Despite losing five senior athletes, 52 athletes initially tried out for this season, and 25 athletes qualified for the final team, making this the biggest squad that the program has seen. With that rise comes the factor of returning athletes who have shown immense improvement since the start of this new season. 

The Panthers will compete in the Ocean League this season, providing an opportunity for a successful season. Presented with a new team and a new league, head coach Traci Kreppel is excited to build up the program even further and to give more athletes a chance to step out onto the green.

Cross Country

The girls’ cross country program is poised to qualify for the CCS team tournament, as they feature both experienced and younger, talented runners this year. (Jake Rothstein)

Following last season’s individual and team appearances at the CCS finals, Burlingame’s cross country team returns an even keel of experience and youth. Juniors Elise Spenner, Ava Gonzalez, and senior Minnoli Raghavan placed 39th, 43rd, and 49th at that final and will now anchor what looks to be another formidable girls’ team. Although senior Ellie Neuman, one of the fastest finishers last year, is out for the season with a torn hip abductor, freshman standout Stella Newman will help ease that loss. Along with juniors Cora Haggarty and Lauren Gonzalez, the Panthers have no shortage of depth. Expect to hear different names throughout the year, and for the girls’ team to dash towards back-to-back section finals appearances. 

Sophomore Lucas Keeley, junior Evan Kim and senior Jackson Spenner headline the boys’ team. Keeley and Kim were the two individual runners Burlingame sent to the CCS finals last year, finishing 37th and 49th  in the Division III field, and while Spenner didn’t run in PAL finals, he’s competed well in practice thus far. With Keeley’s youth and impressive kick, he will likely only improve his times throughout the season. The Panthers are missing key runner and senior Romer Rosales-Hasek, who is indefinitely out with a shin injury. However, it’s not far-fetched to say that the boys’ team could make the CCS team finals, if all the dominoes fall. The program has tactfully been practicing two times a week at Hallmark Park in Belmont, the location of the PAL and CCS meets. Familiarity with the course is sure to prove fruitful come postseason.

Girls’ Volleyball

(From left to right) Senior Mallory Nowitzky, juniors Morgan Toomey, and Madison Langlais prepare to receive a serve in their practice on Aug. 19. (Michelle Moshkovoy)

Emma Madden, Kristi Lee and Keegan Boyse were at the helm of last season’s CCS Division III championship team (26-7, 12-2 PAL Bay Division). While they’ll be sorely missed, the team retains a squad of talented players with championship experience. 

Junior Morgan Toomey and sophomore Ella Duong were No. 2 and No. 3 in total kills last year, with 202 and 188 respectively. Even with the loss of Madden, who totaled the most kills, that leaves the team with serious offensive strength.

New Head Coach Nga Tran has difficult decisions to make about her rotation. She has four reliable outside hitters: Toomey, Duong, junior Madison Langlinais and senior Mallory Nowitzki, but can only have two at those positions on the court. It’s a good problem to have and one to solve during the preseason.  

 The loss of Boyse, a reliable middle blocker, also leaves big shoes to fill for sophomore Abbi Aufhauser and senior Sasha Grett.

Winning the Bay Division over defending champions Hillsdale High School isn’t unrealistic with the talent and depth on Burlingame’s side of the net. However, the team is going to need time to gel and find their footing.

Football

Burlingame relied heavily on rushing the ball to gain yardage last season, a tactic they will lean on again this year. (Jake Rothstein)

Following Ryan Kall’s departure, senior quarterback Liam Friedman will look to build on last fall’s success, when Burlingame went 8-3 overall and made it to the CCS Division III quarterfinals.

In total, the Panthers graduated 20 of their 22 starters from last season, including PAL Bay Defensive Player of the Year Will Uhrich, who now plays at the University of Arizona. They leave behind a less experienced but energized squad this season. 

The team remains committed to running the football, as they return senior fullback Lukas Habelt who rushed for 527 yards last season. Senior running back Joey Nawrocki is also due for a big season. The offensive line is composed of mostly juniors, notably Pierce Schuman at center, and will be key to playing the rushing style that proved so successful last season. 

Senior linebackers Ethan Lancaster, Danny Hilt and Gio Joachin have looked impressive and will be the backbone of the defensive line.

In their season opener on Aug. 29, the Panthers won 31-21 against Capuchino High School, an early confidence booster. However, the close victory also served as a reminder that this isn’t the same team that demolished the Mustangs 35-0 last season. With an identical preseason schedule as last year, the games will likely be more highly contested. The pre-season exposure and experience will only prove more valuable after so many departures.

Girls’ Water Polo

Senior Esther Kim prepares to score one of the 24 goals Burlingame tallied in their friendly match against Aragon High School on Aug. 25. (Kristie Kim)

A year after winning the Bay Division and qualifying for the CCS Division III bracket, girls’ water polo is looking to have another stellar season. All-league seniors Natalie Sullivan Wu, Alex Gratch, and Lily Hartley return for their fourth year at the varsity level.

Having won a championship in the Ocean Division their freshman year as well, the group certainly has experience. After two straight seasons with identical rosters, the seniors will look to guide a younger team, with two freshmen and six players previously on the junior varsity (JV) team.

The program will particularly miss goalie Alex Dolginskiy, who helped last year’s squad to a 15-5 record. However, incoming goalie and senior Victoria Sampaio Quintanilha has shown a lot of promise, according to co-captain Sullivan Wu. 

In its second scrimmage of the year on Aug. 26, Burlingame looked strong defensively and offensively, outscoring Aragon High School 24-4. Early season reps will only help a Panther squad that has a strong chance of a second-straight PAL title and CCS berth.

Boys’ Water Polo

Co-captain senior Tarik Burlingham (pictured) will help spearhead the Panthers as they enter the Ocean League with renewed vigor this year. (Michelle Moshkovoy)

Wins were hard to come by for the boys’ varsity polo team last season in the Bay Division, finishing 2-8. This year, they find themselves relegated to the Ocean Division, with a chance to be more competitive against evenly-matched teams.

Seniors Tarik Burlingham, Archer Grenier, Christian Choury, Jonathan Kon and Dmitriy Luck all return from a team that was previously composed entirely of upperclassmen. 

With this experienced line-up, the Panthers should not be counted out. And accompanied by fresh faces, the team can be expected to have an above .500 record. 

Moreover, boys’ water polo saw a surge in participation for the first time in years, with over twenty players on the JV team according to Burlingham. In past years, JV has been short of players. Growing interest may be a turning point for a program that has experienced recent struggles.

Girls’ Tennis

Senior Rorie Stone hits a backhand in the girls’ tennis practice on Aug. 25. (Jake Rothstein)

After last year’s loss to Los Altos High School in the second round of the Central Coast Section (CCS) team championships, the girls’ tennis team is looking to make some noise. The team finished with a respectable record (10-6, 8-4 Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) Bay Division) last season. They return six of their top ten players, after losing Brynn Mawr College commit Kelli Eng at No. 2 singles and Molly Wachhorst and Annika Ganguly at No. 1 doubles. 

Despite the loss of three crucial players, junior Mila Mulready — who won last year’s PAL Individual Tournament in singles tennis and is a veteran of the junior circuit — continues to lead the team at No. 1 singles. Complemented by core seniors Kaleia Daga, Michelle Moshkovoy, Ella Rafferty, Caitlin Stone and Rorie Stone, Burlingame looks to claim its place at the top of the Bay Division with Carlmont High School and Menlo-Atherton High School. 

The team will also benefit from fresh talent. Over the summer, sophomore Natalie Gyde improved her serve and groundstrokes, proving that she belongs in the starting rotation. Head coach Bill Smith will continue to rely on junior Lily Grenier, who played at No. 3 doubles last season, as well as the rock-solid doubles pairing of seniors Malia Schmidt and Spencer Dobos.

While the squad’s top varsity lineup is still in flux, older veterans will certainly play a large role on the roster. The Panthers can expect to qualify for the PAL team tournament and potentially a CCS berth.

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