2024 Spring Sports Preview: New players and high aspirations

Junior Donovan Ranta prepares to serve over the net during practice on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
Junior Donovan Ranta prepares to serve over the net during practice on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
Evelyn Du
Athletes run a few laps for warm-up during practice on Wednesday, Feb. 28th.
Track and Field

With almost all of their athletes returning from last year’s underclassmen-driven team, the track and field squad is uniquely positioned to have another great year. Building on last year’s postseason success, assistant coach Steve O’Brien predicts a multitude of achievements this go around.

Seniors Avah Reichow and Cora Haggarty, who were standouts last season, will end their high school track experience as star athletes and leaders. Both Haggarty and Reichow placed in the top five at the Central Coast Section (CCS) finals last spring, and Reichow extended her season as she earned a spot in the 300-meter hurdles at the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championship. Senior Jake Ramirez and junior Yazan Abutair have also stood out thus far in the varsity male division.

With five coaches on the team this year, every athlete on the track should receive enough individual attention to improve their skills and have a positive experience. In the early stages of the year, the coaches have prioritized creating a competitive yet welcoming environment. First-year assistant coach Carlie Borough, who previously worked at King’s Academy and Burlingame Parks Department, hopes to be a role model for female student-athletes. 

With over 140 athletes trying out, assistant coach O’Brien sees only growth ahead for the Panthers this year. And they’ve been practicing every day after school to live up to those expectations, with the team’s first regular season meet at home on Wednesday, March 6. 

Athletes run a few laps for warm-up during practice on Wednesday, Feb. 28th. (Kaylee Hwang)
Sophomore Ravi Krishnan scoops through a ground ball at the boys’ varsity lacrosse practice on Thursday, Feb. 21.
Boys’ Lacrosse

After losing numerous star seniors, boys’ lacrosse is looking to lean on their experienced upperclassmen while simultaneously taking advantage of what their new players bring to the program.

“This gives us a chance to reshape the program in ways that we didn’t have an opportunity to last year,” head coach Logan Brown said. “It’s going to give us a lot more runway to develop Burlingame lacrosse as something new.”

Brown, now entering his second year of coaching lacrosse at Burlingame, attributed the boys’ success last year to the strong bond the team formed.

“They were all very close and a tight-knit community,” Brown said. “I was new and came into the equation as an outsider. Their mutual teamwork and their knowledge of each other, growing up together, that was a big factor for their success.”

Senior goalie Luke Nielsen, who proved to be a brick wall last season and strengthened the Panthers’ defense immensely, will be a standout this year. Of the underclassmen on varsity, sophomore Ravi Krishnan looks forward to an exciting season after working hard to improve his skills over the summer.

“Ravi Krishnan has put in an exceptional amount of work and could very well end up going really far in [lacrosse],” Brown said. 

Junior Henry Bradley will take the lead on offensive attack, and senior Ike Cafferkey will be spearheading the Panthers’ defense, according to Brown.

“[Cafferkey] has matured into a leader and I’m excited for him to be leading our defense,” Brown said.

The Panthers begin their season against Sequoia High School on Thursday, Mar. 7.

Sophomore Ravi Krishnan scoops through a ground ball at the boys’ varsity lacrosse practice on Thursday, Feb. 21. (Brinda Iyer)
Junior Sophia Doss faces off against a Menlo-Atherton opponent during a draw on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at a non-league matchup.
Girls’ Lacrosse

Following a successful season last year for girls’ lacrosse that ended with a league title and an 9-1 record, head coach Phil Wang has raised the bar again this season, hoping the team will not only top the Skyline division but make an appearance in the CCS playoffs.

The team has many returning players, including standouts such as junior midfielder Miranda Sibley, senior attacker Gigi Bottarini and senior defender Zaina Michael. Another one of Burlingame’s key players is sophomore Haleh Ansari, who is one of the many underclassmen on the squad primed to contribute this year, according to Wang.

“We [have] three freshmen on the varsity team this year, and this is the third year in a row that freshmen have warranted playing varsity right off the bat,” said Wang. “So not only are we getting better every year, we’re getting younger.” 

The program’s rising young talent could be attributed to the increased interest and participation in tryouts. This season was the first in Wang’s multiple years of coaching at Burlingame that he ever had to make cuts, with 82 girls signed up to play for a roster limited to just 47 spots. 

Woodside High School, Burlingame’s biggest competition from last season, had two critical seniors from last year graduate. That leaves them vulnerable to the experienced Panther squad and could clear the path for Burlingame to dominate their league season. And while the Panthers also lost valuable players in Mimi Cacciato and Ellie Neuman, Wang thinks the squad can effectively fill those holes. 

“All the players are ready to step up. I can already tell everybody is a year older, [and] more mature,” said Wang. 

The squad started their season off strong, defeating Notre Dame Belmont 9-5 in a pre-season matchup on Friday, Feb. 23, but lost to Menlo Atherton High School 10-7 on Wednesday, Feb. 28. Their next matchup is against the Menlo School on Wednesday, March 5.

Junior Sophia Doss faces off against a Menlo-Atherton opponent during a draw on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at a non-league matchup. (Josie Wettan)
Junior Nicolas Moshkovoy hits a backhand volley while warming up for his tiebreaker on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
Boys’ Tennis

While rainy weather plagued boys’ tennis during tryouts, the team is still working as hard as ever. With fresh coaching — featuring head coach Doug Stone and assistant coach Jed Moffitt — boys’ tennis is focused on rebuilding and reestablishing themselves for the upcoming season.

Last year, the squad lost five seniors: singles stars Jackson Spenner and Jared Berkovits and the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) Doubles’ runner-ups Arihant Mishra-Agoram and Ryan Gyde. Adding to the loss, senior Arda Inegol, who was expected to play the top singles position, is out with an arm injury, leaving the top half of the ladder empty.

However, Stone is pleasantly surprised with the talent and improvement shown throughout the roster. Among these standouts are both returning and new members of the team. Most notable are freshman Caleb Chou, sophomore Noah Chiang, juniors Nicolas Moshkovoy and Donovan Ranta and senior Dylan Ares-Hanson.

“I do have high expectations for this team. The level of tennis that we’re seeing, the overall depth that we have between one and four [and] five and 12 is amazing,” Stone said. “I’ve seen so much development, and that’s going to really contribute. We’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

This year, Stone and the team collectively value a strong work ethic, going the extra mile to occasionally practice on wet courts and attend the “optional” Friday practices.

“Everybody’s getting to know each other. Everybody’s getting to work. Everybody’s learning how to work together. Everybody’s learning from each other,” Stone said. “That goes beyond tennis.”

Junior Nicolas Moshkovoy hits a backhand volley while warming up for his tiebreaker on Wednesday, Feb. 21. (Evelyn Du)
The team swims laps in freestyle during practice on Feb. 27 to prepare for their first meet against Carlmont High School.
Swimming

Despite the departure of nearly 20 seniors last year, including Tarik Burlingham and Claire Guglielmi, and with the majority of the roster returning, the swim team holds high expectations for the upcoming season. 

Luckily, swimmers like senior Sofia Kim, juniors Andrew Lee and Karena Huang are returning as upperclassmen to fill in the shoes of their absent teammates. A few new faces this year are attracting attention as well. Notably, freshmen Alexa Chang and Justin Chiang have displayed skills that suggest a strong performance in meets.

Although the team relies on these strong swimmers, head coach Traci Kreppel emphasizes how every swimmer has a significant role. Each team’s final ranking encompasses the points of the entire team. 

“First place scores points but fifth place also scores points and then you can also score a lot of points for relays and sometimes it’s those last place finishes that win the meet for you,” Kreppel said. “So even though there are standout swimmers that are better than everyone else, every single swimmer on the team can have an impact.”

Last year, the Panthers’ season finished strong with a CCS appearance in the 100-yard backstroke by Kim and numerous relays. As more athletes get their chance to prove their skills, the team hopes for even more CCS qualifications this year. While coaches are mainly in charge of creating and managing the workouts during practices, Lee and Kim typically work to ameliorate the team camaraderie and encourage their teammates.

“They are doing a really good job leading the team in a positive direction,” Kreppel said. “We coach the workouts so they kind of take care of the background stuff and support the other swimmers which is really fun and inspiring to watch.”

With almost a month of practice under their belt, the Panthers are prepared to face Carlmont High School on March 1, the opening game of their league season.

The team swims laps in freestyle during practice on Feb. 27 to prepare for their first meet against Carlmont High School. (Joelle Huysmans)
Badminton players warm up, taking some shots during practice on Thursday, Feb. 22.
Badminton

After placing fourth in their division last year, the co-ed Badminton team is determined to improve their league performance in the upcoming season. Outside of league play, three girls qualified for CCS last fall, and senior Jayden Ma hopes for even more postseason success. 

Over the last several weeks, head coach Sal Banquiles, a longtime badminton and former player for the Philippine national team, has been training the well-rounded badminton team for the season ahead. While there are a lot of familiar faces returning, the squad also brought in many newcomers ready to impress.  

Having previously trained with Banquiles, freshman Jonathan Friedman is expected to be a standout player this season.

Despite the promising outlook for the season, this year’s team will have to overcome a few challenges. The many newcomers, while inexperienced players, will have to work to reach their full potential. But they will certainly have guidance and support from veterans, including Ma, who is expected to be a leader and big contributor. In addition, returning players and sophomores Brandon Mark, Allison Duh, and Ellie Liu will be valuable players this season.

While early in the year, Banquiles has big goals for his badminton team — and even sees a potential championship in their future.

“Goal for this season is to be a champion. That’s my first goal always,” Banquiles said. 

Badminton players warm up, taking some shots during practice on Thursday, Feb. 22. (Audrey Wei)
Senior Evan Bither winds up for a drive down the 6th fairway during a 9-hole practice at Crystal Springs Golf Course on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Boys’ Golf

Back from a strong 2023 season that earned them a 13-1 record and a PAL title, boys’ varsity golf is once again teeing it up for another thrilling year. Despite the departure of several influential seniors, the team continues to house a tight-knit set of players who are determined to prove their golf prowess.

“Most of the players on the team are returning players,” assistant coach Taylor White said. “That lends itself to a more cohesive team and I think gives us a better opportunity to win a lot of our matches.”

According to White, the team has multiple standout players, all of whom are expected to play well this season. Senior Nate Teitelbaum, along with juniors Zachary Newman and Ian Lai, look to lead the team on and off the course. Cole Weyer and Ethan Cyb, a dynamic sophomore duo, have both excelled in the first few matches of the year, each posting a sub-38 round.  

According to Lai, the team has what it takes to clinch another PAL title and advance to the second round in the challenging CCS tournament. 

“The talent is great. We’re all doing great,” Lai said. “I think this is going to be our best season.”

The season got off to a strong start with a convincing win against Aragon High School on Feb. 22, one that saw the Panthers shoot an impressive 196 as a team. 

Senior Evan Bither winds up for a drive down the 6th fairway during a 9-hole practice at Crystal Springs Golf Course on Tuesday, Feb. 13. (Arda Inegol)
Senior shortstop and pitcher Jackson Howard stands in the batters’ box before swinging in the Panthers’ matchup against Mills High School on Feb. 23.
Baseball

Following two seasons playing in the Division III CCS playoff bracket, varsity baseball made it to the Division II competition last year, but couldn’t advance past the first round despite their impressive 16-8 regular season record. This season, the Panthers expect more progress — and most importantly, better results in the playoffs. 

But the path towards their ultimate goal won’t be easy. Aidan Alfers, who plays baseball at Occidental College, will be sorely missed, along with program veterans, including third baseman Lukas Habelt and pitching ace Holden Glavin, who dominated on the mound last year.

However, there are new contributors and experienced players up and down the lineup who seem poised to replace them. Four seniors — catcher Will Robbins, second baseman Jackson Howard, first baseman Dylan Kall and shortstop Eric Gee were successful contributors last season and have already produced results this year. The squad will still boast a strong rotation, with pitchers Luca Scatena and Howard entering their senior year with things to prove. 

If early season wins over Mills High School 8-0 on Feb. 23 and a 12-0 victory against Terra Nova High School on Feb. 24 were any indication, the Panthers are well on their way to another CCS berth.

Senior shortstop and pitcher Jackson Howard stands in the batters’ box before swinging in the Panthers’ matchup against Mills High School on Feb. 23. (Zachary Newman)
Senior Ellis McConnell looks up to set the ball during boys’ volleyball’s second week of practice at Capuchino High School on Feb. 28.
Boys’ Volleyball

While the loss of the gym at Burlingame has forced the boys’ volleyball team to relocate to Capuchino High School, the Panthers have begun official practices for the upcoming season, preparing for scrimmages and conference matches that await in early March.

Despite the loss of two prominent seniors, Liam Freidman and Jacob Ngai, the current lineup for the Panthers doesn’t lack depth, full of returning players and others with competitive volleyball experience.

“Probably half of the team are on a club team, maybe 10 or 15 [players]…which is good because it helps to develop [the team],” head coach Lawrence Ngai said. 

The Panthers begin the year with an impressive squad, with veteran seniors Erazem Mattick, Brody Kelley and Aidan Kelley, as well as standout junior Reiter Madden leading the team into the season.  

With the established roster in place, Ngai has high expectations for the team this year. Burlingame has its eyes set on making it to playoff competition.

“[We still] have most people from the varsity team from last year…It’s very competitive, but I have good hopes,” Ngai said. 

Senior Ellis McConnell looks up to set the ball during boys’ volleyball’s second week of practice at Capuchino High School on Feb. 28. (Arshia Chakravartti)
Senior Shayna Young runs the bases during practices with her team on Wednesday, Feb. 28.
Softball

After a difficult season last year, the varsity girls’ softball team and their new coaching staff have big aspirations and hefty goals for the season. The team has been hard at work turning those goals into a reality, practicing every day for roughly three weeks in preparation for the season. 

New head coach Albert Delrosso has his eyes set on making an appearance in the CCS playoffs. Delrosso has faith and confidence in his team’s returning seniors, including seniors Oliva Fleming, Keira Parker, Kasey Lyons, and Tatiana Moraga, whom Delrosso expects to see lots of playing time. However, Delrosso is impressed and satisfied with the development shown by every athlete from all grade levels on the roster. Accompanying him is his assistant coach, Rob Latin, who is returning after coaching the junior varsity team six years ago.

As the varsity athletes prepare for the season, the team has been hard at work on the field, hitting, catching, and going through constant plays. 

While practice is essential, senior Shayna Young, who plays third base, first base, and in the outfield, expressed just how vital mentality is when competing on the field.

“[I try] to have a strategy when I’m up there at the batter’s box,” Young said. “I have a feeling whenever I go to bat, I kind of just get a little in my head. I’m hoping to have a strategy and be relaxed more when I’m up [at the batter’s box].”

Senior Shayna Young runs the bases during practices with her team on Wednesday, Feb. 28. (Brendan Gilmore)
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Kaylee Hwang, Staff Reporter
Kaylee Hwang is a sophomore at Burlingame High School as a first-year journalism student.Outside of school, she enjoys working out, hanging out with friends, and listening to music. When Kaylee isn't working out or spending time with friends, she is most likely watching Grey's Anatomy for the seventh time! Her interest in writing led her to join Journalism, but also to help provide important news to the Burlingame community.
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.
Josie Wettan, Staff Reporter
Josie Wettan is a freshman at BHS and a first year journalism student. Outside of school she enjoys spending time with her sisters and friends, listening to music, and reading. She is excited to write about things that interest her and become involved in the BHS community.
Joelle Huysmans, Diversity Coordinator
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.
Evelyn Du, Staff Reporter
Evelyn Du is a sophomore at Burlingame High School and a first-year journalism student. She can’t wait to learn more about her community and contribute to the school newspaper. Outside of school, she enjoys playing tennis, hanging with friends, watching movies, and baking with her sister. Throughout the year, she hopes to improve her interpersonal skills while interviewing and is so excited to be apart of journalism.
Arda Inegol, Business Manager
Arda Inegol is a senior at Burlingame High School and a third-year Journalism student. As the business manager, he is tasked with managing the B's business affairs. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, playing tennis, golfing, and listening to good music. He is also president of the Politics Club and secretary of NHS.
Audrey Wei, Staff Reporter
Audrey Wei is a freshmen at BHS and is a first year journalism student. She enjoys reading and writing stories, which introduced her to journalism. She is a huge fan of k-pop and enjoys getting boba with her friends. Outside of school, you can find her out on the soccer field or binging a new k-drama.
Brendan Gilmore, Staff Reporter
Brendan Gilmore is a sophomore at BHS and a first-year journalism student. He enjoys writing about relevant events and helping keep the community current on local happenings, leading him to journalism. This year, he plans to improve his writing and teamwork skills by working for the Burlingame B. Outside of school, he enjoys playing tennis, lifeguarding, boating, watersports, traveling, and hanging out with family and friends.
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.
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.
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