2023 Fall Sports Preview: Fresh faces and ambitious expectations

2023 Fall Sports Preview: Fresh faces and ambitious expectations
The cheer team executes a stunt to conclude the halftime performance at a football game against Capuchino High School on Aug. 25.
Girls’ Cheer

After a strong finish to last season, the cheer team plans to rebuild their whole program from the ground up with more spirit, support and charisma. To reach their goal, they started practices earlier than ever, with the team rehearsing their routines twice a week since June. 

As always, the cheer squad will shepherd panther spirit at the Little Big Game, this time with 43 cheerleaders combining varsity and junior varsity, the biggest squad yet. What’s new this year is that the cheer team is rehearsing and working hard to perform at Burlingame’s Centennial Celebration on Oct. 14 to commemorate the school’s 100th anniversary. 

Incoming junior varsity and varsity coach Kimberly Barron is at the helm of the cheer team this season, having been coaching cheer at Burlingame since January. Barron hopes that by the end of football and basketball season, cheer will be fully realized as a sport. 

“I can definitely say BHS has never seen something like we’re going to bring this season,” Barron said. “It’s something new, it’s something fresh. I don’t think BHS is going to recognize the cheer program.”

The cheer team executes a stunt to conclude the halftime performance at a football game against Capuchino High School on Aug. 25. (Sophia Puzon)
Junior Owen Schroeder looks around for teammates to pass the ball to.
Boys’ Water Polo

With a strong group of returning varsity players and an entirely new junior varsity (JV) team, boys’ water polo is optimistic about progressing to the top of the PAL Ocean Division this year. 

“Last year, we had a really strong team. However, we definitely have an even stronger team this year. The team is a lot younger [as compared to last year] which helps us because we have the upper hand to continue learning and growing together,” sophomore Adrian Gong said.

Gong, one of Burlingame’s most impactful players, has made it his mission to teach the team technical skills he learned from playing for Stanford Water Polo Club. Gong’s contribution and leadership have united the JV and varsity teams together over the summer, and his efforts will continue throughout the fall season. He often helps organize practice agendas under head coach Ernesto Nuñez, and assistant coaches Zane Allred and Gizel Ortiz.

Furthermore, the JV team, made up of mostly freshmen who play water polo for Burlingame Aquatic Club, is coordinated and experienced. Freshman Colby Dang, noted as one of the top goalies in the Bay Area, blocked all attempted goals by Aragon High School during a scrimmage on Thursday, Aug. 24.

“[Although] the distribution between our players on JV and varsity could be better, I’m glad the JV team has water polo figured out. They know how to play and aren’t new to the sport. I always see determination from them to play their best,” Gong added.

Optimistic all around, the boys’ water polo team hopes to qualify for the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs this year, and perhaps move up a league to the top-tier Bay Division for next seaon. 

The Panthers lost a close scrimmage against Aragon High School, but the program’s strong teamwork and cohesive chemistry were on full display. 

“The most important thing in water polo is being able to play with each other and really work together as one, Gong said. “It’s a team sport. The efforts I’ve been seeing from the boys are really collaborative and I think we do a great job of communicating. We’re all excited for what the season will bring us because it’s looking good so far.”

Junior Owen Schroeder looks around for teammates to pass the ball to. (Jeannine Chiang)
Sophomore Brooke Schuman is watched by coach Denise Burch as she throws a strong spiral to her partner during the intense tryouts.
Girls’ Flag Football

“Sisterhood, teamwork, and a commitment to excellence” is the motto for the upcoming season for the brand-new girls’ flag football team, according to coach Nicole Carter. 

The new sport is already popular, with nearly 50 players showing up at tryouts. Coaches Carter and Denise Burch created a roster consisting of just over twenty girls. 

Despite this being the first year of flag football at Burlingame, both the players and coaches have high expectations for the team, and there is much to work on before their first game on Sept. 11. Either way, the team is building from the ground up, and history will be made this fall season.

However, the team strives to be more than just winners. Burch and Carter believe that in order to win as a team, there must be a strong foundation underneath. Team bonding will be a top priority.

“The expectation this first year is just to learn the basics. Just develop plays and the program, especially for the younger players, just form relationships,” Burch said. 

Although not every player will make the cut, all the girls who tried out showed great talent, sportsmanship and skills that display a bright future for the girls’ flag football program.

Sophomore Brooke Schuman is watched by coach Denise Burch as she throws a strong spiral to her partner during the intense tryouts. (Natalie Gyde)
Varsity Lucas Kirk tries to recover a kickoff on Aug. 25 during the first game of the season.
Boys’ Football

With over 20 seniors from last year’s squad no longer on the roster, and over 15 first-year varsity players, there are undoubtedly question marks about how this team will perform in the highly competitive PAL Bay Division. 

The Panthers relied heavily on their rushing attack last season, leaning on running backs Lukas Habelt, Joey Nawrocki and quarterback Liam Friedman. Senior backs Angelo Medina and Sam Felton will carry the load offensively for Burlingame, along with first-year varsity signal caller Eddie Gill. Also returning for his second season on the varsity roster is reigning all-league tight end and dynamic linebacker Zach Shapiro.

In their regular season opener on Aug. 25, the Panthers blew a 16-point first-half lead and lost 20-19 to Capuchino High School. The loss snapped a 9-game winning streak for Burlingame against Capuchino that spanned back to 2004, including a 31-21 victory last year. 

The Panthers struggled with turnovers and penalties after jumping out to the early lead – but failed to execute on both sides of the ball the rest of the way, according to head coach John Philipopoulos. To make matters worse, Shapiro suffered a serious shoulder injury early in the first quarter against the Mustangs, further challenging the road toward the CCS playoffs.

Varsity Lucas Kirk tries to recover a kickoff on Aug. 25 during the first game of the season. (Henry Gardner)
Burlingame players warm up before their first scrimmage of the year against Hillsdale on Aug. 22.
Girls’ Water Polo

Without almost all of last year’s varsity team, it is clear this is going to be a season of development for girls’ water polo. However, head coach Ernesto Nuñez is confident that his team has what it takes to deliver results.

“Despite this setback, I still anticipate us doing pretty well,” Nuñez said. “But it is gonna take us a few games to fall into rhythm and get into a groove.”

Given how the roster turnover, expect the remaining veterans to step up to fill leadership positions, such as senior captain Stella Wettan and junior goalkeeper Kelcey Flenniken. 

In the first scrimmage of the year on Tuesday, Aug. 22, Burlingame came out strong both offensively and defensively, beating Hillsdale High School. Whether the squad can make a run to the CCS playoffs is unclear, but Nuñez is optimistic. 

“In the end, we’ll be okay, I’m not sure about CCS but I don’t wanna sell the girls short of anything,” Nuñez said. “If we don’t make it this year, next year is definitely a possibility.”

Burlingame players warm up before their first scrimmage of the year against Hillsdale on Aug. 22. (Sophia Doss)
Junior Jillian Kiniris bumps the ball during practice on Aug. 23.
Girls’ Volleyball

After a strong finish to last year’s season, girls’ varsity volleyball has high hopes for repeating goals with new players. With eleven returning players and four fresh faces, the team feels prepared to take on the season, despite practices being relocated to the Mills High School gym.

Working last season with the freshman team, first year varsity head coach Hannah Korslund made her goals for the players clear: Repeat last year’s achievements.

Last season, the team’s hard work paid off as they made it to the Open Level of the Central Coast Section (CCS) tournament, NorCal tournament and co-PAL championship. Although many strong players graduated last year, such as libero Mallory Novitzky, they still plan on succeeding as PAL champions once again. 

After tryouts from Aug. 7-11 and practices beginning on Aug. 14, the team has already put in hours of preparation during practices and a pre-season game against St. Francis High School on Aug. 24 and Sacred Heart Prep on Aug. 29. The first regular season game will be against Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday, Aug. 29. 

Besides making it to the PAL championship, communication is a huge goal for the players this year – making sure everyone is being vocal when on the court and holding more discussions on how to improve when they make mistakes during games. 

Junior Jillian Kiniris bumps the ball during practice on Aug. 23. (Abigail Knight)
Junior Jennie Benaglia refines her swing at a team practice at the Mariners Point Golf Center in Foster City on August 23.
Girls’ Golf

With tryouts completed and official practices underway, the girls’ golf season is in full swing. 

Last year was a breakthrough season for girls’ golf. With the help of increased participation and a strong top six players, the team finished in second place in the PAL Ocean league. 

This season, head coach Traci Kreppel has even bigger aspirations. Despite losing two top players, Brooklyn Arcenal and Sophia Ibanez, the program still looks strong, led by a new senior lineup that includes Ellie Dowd, Aahana Chakravartti, Lucy Moran and Sarah Ott. 

The sustained increase in underclassmen participation will also help the team gain experience in the coming seasons.

“It’s good because we have more 10th graders that came out this year, so it’s good to see the program filling from the bottom up,” Kreppel said. 

The Panthers are preparing for their first league match of the season on Wednesday, Aug. 30 against South San Francisco High School.

“We’re just super excited about the season, and we can’t wait to see everyone go out and play and compete and do a good job,” Kreppel said. 

Junior Jennie Benaglia refines her swing at a team practice at the Mariners Point Golf Center in Foster City on August 23. (Arshia Chakravartti)
Junior Natalie Gyde hits a backhand during a singles match at the girls’ tennis practice on Thursday, Aug. 24.
Girls’ Tennis

The girls’ tennis team has one primary goal this season: to rebuild. The team lost seven of last year’s premier players, including top doubles partners Malia Schmidt, Spencer Dobos and Rorie Stone, and singles stars Ella Rafferty, Caitlin Stone and Michelle Moshkovoy. But coaches Marci Martinucci and Robin May are not worried — they have faith in their players, and in the work ethic of their team and know that the spaces left by the graduated seniors will soon be filled with fresh talent.

“[The season] is going to go well,” Martinucci said. “There’s so many girls from last year that will be stepping up this year.”

Senior Mila Mulready, who dominated at the No. 1 in singles slot last year, will play a large role in the team’s success this year. The rest of the team’s future, however, has yet to be determined, and it is too early in the season to conclusively pick out standout players and a starting lineup. So far, some emerging talents are senior Lily Grenier, sophomores Samantha Tom and Evelyn Du and junior Natalie Gyde.

“They’re hard working, they love playing together,” May said. “We’ll see [how the season goes]. The kids are working hard in practice [and] we’re pleased with what we see.”

Junior Natalie Gyde hits a backhand during a singles match at the girls’ tennis practice on Thursday, Aug. 24. (Brinda Iyer)
The cross country team sprints laps around the track during practice after school on Aug. 29 in preparation for their race.
Cross Country

Following an outstanding season last year that culminated with top Central Coast Section (CCS) rankings and a state championship qualification for freshman Stella Newman, the cross country program is back in action with ambitious goals for the coming season. 

However, the climb toward a strong CCS performance is likely to be arduous without top-notch seniors Jackson Spenner, Alison Saunders, Romer Rosales-Hasek and Minnoli Raghavan. Although their experience and passion for running will be missed, returning teammates and seniors Ava Gonzalez, Jake Rothstein and Cora Haggarty will undoubtedly take the lead and serve as mentors to younger athletes. The team also practiced tirelessly over the off-season to prevent regression and to remain physically sharp. 

The team’s roster includes over a hundred runners, which could pose both an advantage and a challenge leading into meets. According to head coach Chris Coleman, a larger group provides greater possibilities for outstanding athletes, but only a limited number of competition slots are available for the final meets of the season, rendering it difficult to determine which athletes will compete until the end.

As the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) meet at Half Moon Bay quickly approaches, the team finds itself hard at work in an effort to optimize success in competition.

The cross country team sprints laps around the track during practice after school on Aug. 29 in preparation for their race. (Jake Rothstein)
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Zachary Newman, Sports Editor
Zachary Newman is a junior and second-year journalism student. He is excited to be the B's sports editor this year and continue to improve the sports coverage in the paper. Zachary spends the majority of his time outside of school on the golf course. He also likes to play with his dog and cheer on his favorite sports teams.
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Joelle Huysmans is a sophomore at Burlingame High School and Diversity Coordinator for The Burlingame B as a second-year journalism student. Outside of school, she enjoys playing tennis, running in track and field, spending time with friends, playing board games with her family, and traveling across the world to discover foreign cultures. Her profound passion for reading and writing has led her to this class and she is excited to see where it will take her next.
Sophia Doss, Senior Reporter
Sophia Doss is a junior and a second-year journalism student at Burlingame High School. She is so excited to continue her passion for reporting and writing in journalism. When she's not at her internship or playing soccer/ lacrosse Sophia enjoys reading, playing with her dog Duke, and spending time with family and friends.
Brinda Iyer, Copy Editor
Brinda Iyer is a sophomore at Burlingame High School and a second-year journalism student. She's thrilled to have the opportunity to explore different styles of writing in this class and to gain the experience of working in a newsroom. Outside of school, you can find Brinda playing lacrosse, traveling to new places, playing and listening to music, rewatching her favorite shows and spending time with friends and family.
Jeannine Chiang, Web Editor
Jeannine Chiang is a junior at Burlingame High School and a second-year journalism student. She is excited to continue journalism as the Web Editor this year. Chiang is involved with many clubs in the school and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and watching her favorite TV shows.
Arshia Chakravartti, Copy Editor
Arshia Chakravartti is a senior and a third-year journalism student. She is an avid reader and writer who is excited to continue her role as a Copy Editor in The Burlingame B staff. Outside of school, she participates in multiple sports, such as skiing, tennis, and track. She also loves traveling, eating good food, watching tv and spending time with friends and family.
Sophia Puzon, Senior Reporter
Sophia Puzon is a junior at Burlingame High School and a second-year journalism student. She's thrilled to return this year as a seasoned senior reporter. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, and most of all sleeping.
Abby Knight, Copy Editor
Abby Knight is a junior and a second-year journalism student. She is excited to take on the role of one of the copy editors for the paper this year. Outside of school, she loves reading classics, creative writing, playing guitar, tutoring kids and spending time with her dog.
Natalie Gyde, Social Coordinator
Natalie Gyde is a junior at Burlingame High school and is a second year Journalism student as well as the Social Coordinator! This year, she is looking forward to taking on the sense of a leadership role and forming the best atmosphere within the class. Outside of school, she dedicates her time to sports, family and friends.
Henry Gardner, Staff Reporter
Henry Gardner is a sophomore at BHS and a first year journalism student. In his free time he likes to do photography, play lacrosse, and spend time with his friends. Henry is excited to take photos of school events and write about topics that interest him.
Jake Rothstein, Managing Editor
Jake Rothstein is a senior at Burlingame High School and is a third-year student in journalism. Jake is excited to be the new co-managing editor for the Burlingame B. He is an avid runner on the cross country and track teams and enjoys building and designing software applications. In his spare time, Jake enjoys being with friends and family and reading the news.
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