Winter Sports Preview
Winter Sports Preview
by Yusuf Haque and Zak Rizvi
VARSITY BOYS BASKETBALL
This year looks to be one of rebuilding for the Varsity Boys Basketball Team. The team lost their two star players, Blake Martin (‘17) and Victor Akujobi (‘17), last year, so returning to this year’s championships may be more difficult. However, the team remains optimistic and looks to be a strong competitor.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a terrible season,” said captain Michael Dickey (‘18). “We are definitely not as good as last year, but I think this team definitely has potential… everybody is going to have to put in the equal amount of work in order for us to succeed.”
“We are not going to be as good as last year but I think we have enough talent that, if I do my job, we can be competitive. Again, that depends on whether we can earn it or not. It could be a five win season, or a fifteen win season, or anything in between,” reaffirmed George Boutis, the team’s coach.
The team will try to use their camaraderie and teamwork to their advantage to be able to win. “I think that we have good chemistry right now, and one of the most important things about playing well and teamwork is good chemistry. You have to gel together in order to win together,” said Mike.
This team does have one trait that has not been seen on the boy varsity basketball team since the 2013-2014 season: two freshmen players. The last time the team has carried members this young was 5 years ago, when Blake and Victor made the team and both went on to dominate in the ACIS league. Mr. Boutis praised the freshman, Luca Biro (‘21) and Nolan Casey (‘21) “Not only are they good players, Luca and Nolan, but I think they understand how to be on this team. I have all the confidence in the world they will fit right in as our little brothers,” he said.
The team will be looking to succeed this year, while simultaneously developing the younger talent in the team to prepare for upcoming years.
This year the swim teams are gearing up for a new season, coming off of a year of many victories, when the girl’s team won both the championship and the league, and the boy’s team was the runner up for both titles. This year both teams will look to build off of their previous success and go on to capture titles in the ACIS league.
“I set the bar high for our team, and not just because our success in the past years,” said Coach Chris Ruck. This goal seems likely, for the swim team did not lose many graduating members last year. This year they have added many skilled freshmen, a high level club swimmer, Dare Rose (‘20), and middle schoolers.
“We are stacked in terms of ability this year,” said Theo Eagle (‘18), one of the captains of the team. The key rival for the swim team this year looks to be Columbia Prep. “Columbia Prep is the rival for us. They don’t have a big team. We walk in with 50 people they walk in and they walk in with 15, but their 15 are really good, and it’s a good matchup,” said Chris, when asked about the rival school. The boys team lost to Columbia last year and the girls team narrowly beat them, so this year’s meet will surely be an eventful one during the chase for the championship.
The boys team will be captained by Theo and Ethan Ng (‘18), while the girls will be captained by Ana Molestina (‘18) and Becca Horwitz (‘18). The team captains hope to create an environment full of team spirit and energy. Ethan accentuated the importance of supporting his teammates and being enthusiastic, saying, “The main part of being captain is just cheering on. I feel like we are main contributors to the team, and setting a good example is important.” Both of the team captains also mentioned their desire to leave a mark on Packer swimming, with Ethan adding, “When we are gone I hope the swim team is still thriving and people want to keep swimming.”
JV BOYS BASKETBALL:
The JV boy basketball team has received an influx of new talent from the class of 2021 after losing a majority of their starters from last year to varsity.This year, the team will be led by returning sophomore and power forward Mark Gazzero (‘20).
Adam Choice, one of the team’s two coaches, said hopefully, “We’ve made it to the championship every year, but we’ve lost in championship every single year. It’s my goal, everyone’s goals, to to win championship this year. We have the talent to do it.” Mr. Choice believes his team has what it takes, despite this talent largely coming in the form of new players. “Between kids stepping up as sophomores and some great freshman, this could be the year. We are big, athletic, and talented,” he said.
Some of the key players, as mentioned by Mr. Choice, will be Bobby Lobue (‘21), Owen Smith (‘21), Mark Gazzero (‘20), and Cooper Williamson (‘20). The team will be looking to snag its first championship under Mr. Choice coming so close but being unable to win the title. With a talented group this year, the team will be looking to finally win the elusive title.
VARSITY GIRLS BASKETBALL
The varsity girls basketball team is coming off of one of their most successful seasons in years, a feat including league championships in the ACIS and AAIS, as well as an AAIS playoff championship that is going to be tough to repeat.
Much like the varsity boys basketball team, the varsity girls team lost many star players last year. Among the seniors who left was 1000 point scorer Brittany Boyce (‘17), the team’s marquee player.
However, the team plans on using these losses as motivation to improve. “Because we lost a lot of people, we have to step it up and keep our name, because people talk about Packer like we’re the team to beat,” said team captain Lily Tympanick (‘18).
The team will still try and make a run at the ACIS championship via their star players Jojo Sampson (‘21) and Jolie Krebs (‘20), both of whom are underclassmen. The team looks to to use their assortment of three point shooters to win. “[Our biggest asset] is definitely on the wings,” said Lily.
This year’s squash team will be looking to recover from the loss of team leaders and key players from last year. The team lost a number of seniors, including Andrew Douglas (‘17), who was ranked number one in the nation for his division. The seniors helped bring leadership and skill to the team, something that will be sorely missed.
As said by one of the team captains Henry Somerby (‘19), “It’s gonna be a decent team but I don’t think we’re gonna be as good as last year. I think it’s definitely going to change a lot, it’s going to be difficult to implement that same level of play that we had last year with what we have this year.”
However, this year had an influx of talented eighth graders joining the team, all who are ready to compete and help the team win its tournaments. Henry Somerby said the goal for this year is to more or less rebuild and train for the next season. “I think that this is a processing year, and next year will be the outcome and see how we do,” he said. The key rivals for the squash team look to be Saint Ann’s.
The track team will be ready to transition from a great cross country season to indoor track. They have a solid core of sophomore runners, as well as many key upperclassmen, including captains Lucy Shotts (‘18) and Alex Molestina (‘18).
“We have a good range of runners from sprinters like Chaz [Saferstein (‘20)] and Alec [Kyritsis (‘20)] to mid distance runners like Alexi [Judge (‘20)], as well as distance runners such as myself, Carter [Weaver (‘20)], and Aiden [Jelveh (‘20)]. We have been getting some pretty good times and we are gonna train really hard for our first meets of the season,” said Peter Cembalest (‘20).
The key events for the team will be the Hispanic Games, the Ocean Breeze Invitational, New Balance Games, Final League Meet, and possibly the States Championship if their time records are fast enough. These events will be key in deciding the success of the indoor season. The team hopes to achieve this speed and have a successful season.