Three rival schools battle for a spot at CCS


Photo By Andrea Boyn
HHS competed against Palo Alto and Los Altos High Schools

hile tri-meets are regular for the professional swimming world, March 23 was the first time in HHS swimming history the team participated in a tri-meet instead of a regular dual-meet.

Coach Alex Romanko was faced with a scheduling conflict between a student club team event and the LAHS dual-meet. As a solution, the team decided to merge the PAHS vs HHS meet with the LAHS vs HHS dual-meet.

While in a typical dual-meet there may be six competing lanes, during a tri-meet there can be as many as nine.

Incorporating a tri-meet into the season will affect athletes in several ways. In addition to making the overall season shorter, swimmers will also have one less opportunity to qualify for CCS.

Despite fewer opportunities to compete in CCS, Romanko said that he tries to find as many non-league opportunities that are authorized by CCS  to maintain a good balance.

Less chances to qualify also implies heightened competition. Many athletes said they agree with Romanko that the added bodies in the water contributed to a better energy.

“It was pretty fun because it was a more competitive vibe,” junior Brandon Ligeti said. “Even if you lost to one team, there was still a good chance you could have [beat] the other [team].”

Despite the added nerves, HHS dominated the pool. The Mustangs won three of the four meets in the competition and seven out of eight including both boys and girls.

Although HHS will not be participating in any more tri-meets this year, Romanko said he hopes to have the opportunity to hold one again.

Football springs back into season


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Although football fans may reluctantly put away their banners and green face paint at the end of the fall season, the game is not over for many players.

This spring offseason, for instance, the team maintains a rigorous practice schedule, training Monday to Thursday for two hours each day.

Head Varsity coach Milo Lewis said that the average practice consists of stretching individuals, agilities, 7-on-7 scrimmages and team offense or team defense.

Victory is the most important motivation for many on the team, such as junior Jarrett (“J-Money”)  Conkin and freshman Guy Haiby. Other players, such as junior Hector Sotelo Quiroz, described hopes of building a strong defense.

“It shows in the season, the amount of work you put in in the off season, even if it’s hard,” Haiby said. “You just got to think about, if you put in work now, it’s going to show as result in the field during the season.”

In particular, the team teams in hopes of making playoffs at the De Anza league next year. Although, The team has made it to playoffs at El Camino multiple times in past years, making playoffs at De Anza has been a long-term goal.

“That would the first time that me as the head coach had done it in the De Anza league … and I think that’s what our program is been about,” Lewis said.

However, the team also focuses on personal growth.

“Everybody’s got stronger with what they’re doing right now, compared to when they were freshmen. They’ve never seen what they’ve done and sometime they surprised their own selves,” Lewis said.

Although spring football requires extra dedication from players, junior Ryan (“QB”) D’Amour said it also provides time to learn and grow as a team.

“It’s about winning and really being a team, a football team … like it’s fun to come and just hang out with the team, but like we keep the season in mind a lot of the time” D’Amour said. “We want to do good during the season and it takes a certain amount of hard work.”

Diving into CCS

The girls varsity divers who qualified for CCS are looking forward to the meet on May 12. Diving may be an individual sport, but they all work together to improve their skills for meets. So far only three girls, varsity captain junior Anna Dupin, freshman Shannon Johnson Guthrie and sophomore Jessy Chen have qualified for CCS.

The season is technically over for the divers who did not qualify for CCS, but divers may still show up to practice to support the rest of the team, freshman Sonya Bonne said.  

“There are seven judges [at CCS meets] instead of two and it’s just a more competitive environment,” Bonne said.

Johnson Guthrie dove for a club team for a few months before trying out this year as a freshman. She said she was excited to make it to CCS on varsity, as she was expecting to be put on JV. She said her favorite dive is the reverse somersault.

“[In CCS] you have a lot more dives and the judging is a little tougher,” Guthrie said.

Dupin, one of the other divers who qualified, has dove every year at HHS and for five and a half years through a club team at Stanford. She said she competes with 11 different dives one meter board and 11 on three meter board.

“I just like being with the group and making friends. It’s fun,” Dupin said.  

The diving team typically has practices 5 days a week after school where divers sit in a “hot tub,” which is a kiddie pool filled with warm water in between dives that Bonne said she enjoys going to.

“Yeah it’s super fun and the environments really supportive and the people are really nice, so yeah I like it,” Bonne said.  

Bonne had been diving since the beginning of the season and had also done waterpolo. She will dive again next year as the team has never had cuts. Tryouts next year are for boys and girls and there is no prior experience required.

Diving into a new season

The girls varsity and JV diving teams did well at the meet on Thursday, March 30.  The diving team’s score is combined with the swim team’s score to make the total score of the meet. Each dive is given a score based on the difficulty, technique, how close to the board and how big of a splash the diver makes, Senior boys varsity diving captain Cole Brower said.

There are many underclassmen girls on the diving team, but only one junior and no seniors. Freshman Sonya Bonne, who has been diving for almost a month, said there have never been cuts for tryouts in the past, but the coach said he may cut people in the future if they are not good enough.

Bonne said she knows six dives and her favorite is a front dive tuck, but she has not competed officially at a meet yet. Varsity captain Anna Dupin has been diving for five and a half years at Stanford and has dove every year at HHS. She said she can do over 11 different dives on a one meter board and 11 on a three meter board.

“I just like being with the group and making friends. It’s fun,” Dupin said.  

Freshman Kelly Stepanenko from FHS has been diving for eight years at Santa Clara Diving. She came to her first meet at HHS recently and enjoyed it.

“I think [the HHS divers are] great and I love their positivity all the time and I just love them as people,” Stepanenko said.

Four students came to watch the boys and girls diving meet on Thursday, but there were many parents and family members in attendance. Senior Sarah Golbidi, who attended the meet, thought it was interesting and recommends more students come out to support the diving team.

Ending a decade long streak

Last week, the varsity golf team defeated the number two-seeded Los Altos High School in a close match of 194 strokes to 197 strokes. The win secured the Mustangs a close third place in the division, allowing the team to compete at leagues for the first time since 2003.

Had the Mustangs lost the game, Gunn High School would have overtaken the Mustangs for third place.

Star players junior Nikhil Sharma and senior Joson Ralph broke their record scores for the high school year, scoring 32 and 33 strokes respectively. Their performance made the difference in the close win against Los Altos High School.

Unlike in previous years, where just a few top players dominated the scene, this year’s team has displayed a strong overall performance.

“[Since 2003] I’ve had really good individuals [on the team], but we’ve never quite had the depth to finish in third,” varsity head coach Gary Yoshida said. “On golf six people play, five scores count. This year in the four, five and six positions I’ve had way more consistent golfers than in the past, so that’s what kind of did it for us.”

Not only has the overall team performance improved, but so have the atmosphere and dynamic of the team.

“The teammate relationships have been a lot stronger than before and it creates a welcoming atmosphere at every practice,” junior Julius Buonanno said. “We have light-hearted bets and matches during practices and the winner gets donuts.”

Moving into leagues, which takes place from May 2-5, the team has a more carefree stance.

“We’ve never been there in a long time, I just want them to have fun,” Yoshida said. “We should have a good chance of placing in league too.”

Striking out the competition

The softball team is marching into their upcoming season. After an excellent run last season, the team is optimistic about the one ahead this 

“I am proud of how far we made it [last season],” senior Nicky Kirk, who has been on the varsity team since sophomore year, said.

The team suffered a defeat in the second round of CCS last season due to key players being injured, Senior Rachelle Cepeda said, who was also injured in that period.

Many JV team players moved up last season. “We had a lot of players moving up from JV last year… we did well with coping and adapting to changes,” Kirk said.

The team players’ understanding of each other was their strength last season.

“A lot of us have played together in our competitive teams,” Cepeda said. “We knew what each other needed. We understood like what we had to do to help each other and pick up your teammates when we needed to.”

Breaking small habits like “dropping your shoulder when you swing,” as Kirk said, was an area that needed improvement last season.

Three seniors from last year have now graduated, but despite the former seniors’ absence, the starting lineup remains mostly the same for this season.

“I am pretty optimistic about the [coming] season… we have a lot of the same starting lineup as last year,” Cepeda said.

As there has been less change in the team, the players’ understanding of each other will be a strength in the coming games.

“We are all pretty close, so whether we are in a slump or not, we will be able to pick each other up or help each other,” Kirk said.

Prepping for the win

Though the track and field season has not started yet, runners have already started training in the  preseason.

Sophomore Elena Kamas has run for cross country the past two years and was part of the track team last year. In her past season of cross country, Elena won the individual title in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League with a new school record of 17:47.4, which beat a record set 38 years ago by 21 seconds on the Crystal Springs fable cross country course, according to the HHS athletic booster website.

Not only a great runner, Kamas also displayed a prowess never seen before during last year’s track season. Kamas became the first female runner at Homestead to advance to the CIF State Championships and placed third overall. She currently holds the record for the 1600 m at 4:58.33.

“Cross Country and Track are similar for me because in track I am on the long distance team so the workouts are pretty similar,” Kamas said.

Though there has been a time difference between the Cross Country and Track season, Cross Country has helped Kamas prepare for the Track season.

“Cross Country helps with track physically, obviously, but being used to running in races of one hundred plus athletes takes the edge off of competing in track meet,” Kamas said.

Kamas started to run for her cross country team in middle school and has had a passion for running since then.

In total, Kamas runs around six days a week, either with her team or by herself. Kamas runs the 800 m and 1600 m during the track season but may look to do the two-mile in the future, as she is a long-distance runner.

For preseason, the team does drills three days a week and runs around four or five miles on the other days, said Kamas.

“Preseason is very important because it helps maintain in off season,” Kamas said.

Kamas believes that if anyone loves to run, they should join track and field and take part in the preseason.