Winter sports preview

Evan Barber

Last year's Wayland boys after winning the state championship. (Credit: The Becker Family)
Last year's Wayland boys after winning the state championship. (Credit: The Becker Family)

Try-outs are wrapping up, varsity teams are forming, and the swimmers already all smell of chlorine. Winter sports teams are hoping to match the success that Wayland teams enjoyed in the fall. Golf, and boys and girls crew each took state championships, and seven of the ten fall sports teams competed in some kind of postseason. This season, there are eleven winter teams that get a clean slate  and will compete in the highly talented Dual-County League (DCL) in attempts to earn a berth in the second season.

Here is a quick preview for each team and a few players to watch for this winter.

Boys Swimming and Diving

Even though they were the underdogs, the boys swim team won it all last season. This year, they have the targets on their backs, and just like the girls in 2007, they are trying to repeat their feat and gain respect among teams across the state. The  swim and dive’s first meet was 12/10 against Ashland, a brand new program with only three boys. Wayland took home the win.

Swimmers to watch:

Travis Downs, captain (’10): Downs, a formidable freestyler, will be looked to for leadership in his final season with the team. Downs was part of last year’s state championship team, an experience that will be very useful this season as they defend the title.
Michael Ren (’11): Ren’s dramatic win in the individual 100-yd breaststroke during last year’s state championship sealed the victory for the boys. Like the rest of the team, Ren is hungry to repeat the team’s, and his individual, win.
Ian Stack (’11): While Stack is coming off an ankle injury he suffered in the fall soccer season, it’s only a minor setback. He will use the rest of the year to get back into top form, and then push to repeat.
Austin Brennan, (’11) diver: Brennan enters his third season as a varsity diver. Last season Brennan was a big help after having a successful competition at the states and looks to improve on last year’s success.

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Girls Swimming and Diving

The most successful team in Wayland will settle for nothing less than a fifth straight title. This year’s seniors are trying to become the second class to win a championship every year of their high school career. Wayland girls swimming and diving has established themselves among the elite teams in Massachusetts and hopes to maintain that in perpetuity. Their first meet is today, Friday, December 11th, at Westford Academy.

Swimmers to watch:

Emily Downs (’11): Downs’ strong performance as sophomore earned her DCL all-star honors for the second year in a row. Downs was part of last year’s 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard-freestyle that set a state record last year.
Liz Doyon, captain (’10): As a senior, Doyon will be looked to heavily for leadership. The backstroker will be a critical component in this year’s run at the team’s fifth state title in a row.
Emily Wright, captain (’10): Wright is one of the state’s best freestylers. She is expected to score a lot of points for the Warriors in her senior year and is going to be integral in this year’s run for another title.
Whitney Fletcher, captain (’10) diver: Fletcher finished 5th in last year’s state championship. She is hoping to improve her place this year, but it will be tough with three of last year’s top five divers returning.

Wrestling

Last year’s team flew under the radar, exceeding expectations and making it to the division three state championship only to lose to Burlington. This year’s team will not be able to apply the same stealth. The Warriors are the top ranked team in division 3, so opponents will know to bring their best to every meet. Still, the teams wants nothing less than repeat DCL and sectional championships.

However, they can’t overlook their first meet against three tough opponents, which include Dedham and Hudson, two teams the Warriors faced in the division 3 central meets who will be looking for revenge. On Christmas Eve, the traditional Wayland-Weston rivalry meet will begin a new chapter, as Weston’s new coach, Tom Cavanaugh, enters the mix. He is better known to Wayland students as Coach Cav.

Wrestling’s first match is 12/12 at Hudson High School vs. Hudson/Holliston/Dedham.

Players to Watch:

Abe Freedberg, captain (’10): Freedberg will most likely wrestle 215 and hopes to have a big year, not only with the team but also as an individual ranked 10th in the statewide 215-weight class and third in division 3.
Max Garelick, captain (’10): Garelick’s weight class this year is still being worked out, but like Abe he is ranked statewide.  Max was last year’s team leader in takedowns and hopes to repeat that feat.
Greg Eng, captain (’10): This is Eng’s fourth year of wrestling at the varsity level, most likely moving up three weight classes from his freshman year. Eng’s experience will be a big factor, having wrestled in two prior state championships.
Jean Mbudimbu (’11): Jean is a favorite to win his weight class, which will most likely be 171. Jean will use the experience he gained last year to try improve his game.

Boys Basketball

A team that is returning 8 players from last year’s division 3-north semi-finalists team looks to get just as deep into tournament. The three seniors lost from last year’s team include captains Dan Keefer and Mike Synodis, and Charles Brown, Wayland’s first 1,000 point scorer in many years. The first game of the year is 12/11 at Newton South; the first home game is 12/15 vs. Boston Latin.

Players to watch:

Adam Lewin, captain (’10): The sharp-shooting Lewin hopes his third year playing varsity will be his best. He is the team’s leading returning scorer and will need to have a big year for the team to be successful.
Zach Miles (’10): Miles may be the Warrior’s most versatile player, with the height to play down low, as well as a shot that makes him a threat anywhere on the court.
Ian Bonner (’10): This is Bonner’s second year playing varsity after playing IBL (Intramural Basketball League) his first two years of high school. Last year’s playing time will help him improve and hopefully become a force down low. Watch for Bonner on the rebounds.

Girls Basketball

The girls basketball team enters this season with their goals aimed at a deep postseason, after missing the tournament last year. They have have a solid team, instead of five individuals, according to coach Kathleen Thompson. Although the starters are going to have to lead the team, the rest of the players on the bench will also be scoring points. The Warriors also added Russ Hammond to their coaching staff to assist coach Thompson this season. The girls’ first game is today, 12/11, vs. Newton South.

Players to watch:

Lindsay Shelton, captain (’10): Shelton is coming off a very successful junior year, which she finished by being named DCL all-star. Always a high scoring player, she will have to be able to find her shot consistently and score lots of points to contribute to this year’s team.

Lauren Vachon, captain (’10): Vachon had her own post-season glory last year when she won the DCL 3-point contest. This year, she will need to take shots from behind the arc this year but also look to drive when possible. Vachon’s leadership qualities will help bring these girls back to tournament.

Boys Hockey

The boys hockey team is looking to get back in the state tournament this season. They need to re-group after losing 7 guys from last year’s team, 5 of whom were seniors and hiring a new coach, Eric Brown. Last year’s team sent 4 players to the DCL All-Star game, two seniors, Joe O’Brien and Sean Haffey, and two sophomores Zach Bastarache and Cogan Register. The team is looking to both Bastarache and Register to go deep into the tournament. Their first game of the year is 12/16 at Dracut; the first home game (New England Sports Center, in Marlboro) is 12/19 vs. Tyngsborough.

Players to Watch:

Peter Sullivan, captain (’10): Sullivan is one of the fastest skaters on this Warrior squad; he also has one of the best shots. Sullivan finished last season with 18 points and looks to add to his high point total this season.
Zach Bastarache, assistant captain (’11): Bastarache is the backbone of the Wayland defense. He is entering his third season on the varsity team, and looks to have another great season after his DCL all-star campaign last year.
Cogan Register (’11): Register, who as a freshman was the varsity back-up goalie to Brian Nowak (’08), proved he was what the Warriors needed in their playoff appearance last year. Register will have to have another phenomenal season for these Warriors to be successful.

Girls Hockey

This two-town team will have to look to their youth for the beginning of this season. All three of the Wayland-Weston seniors, (Mel Sperling, Samantha Testa, and Cass Friedman) will not be suiting up on opening night. Coach Bill McDonald hopes that this group of girls gels together and becomes a very competitive team in a tough DCL. The only question for the Warriors is in net. Sophomore Andrea Defina will step in for the first time ever. Defina has never played competitive hockey. However, she’ll be in the good hands of assistant coach Simone Mordas, who played goalie at Princeton. The girls’ first game is 12/12 vs. Dover-Sherborn.

Players to watch:

Brenna LaPierre (’12): LaPierre enters her second season on the varsity team and is looking to add another great season to her resume after a stellar season last year.
Bailey Morgan (’12): Morgan played on the second line last season but will move up to first line due to the loss of Testa and Sperling due to injuries. Morgan is one of the stronger skilled players on the team and will need to be one of the leaders while the seniors are out.
Cara Lembo (’13): Lembo, a Weston resident, enters her freshman year with high expectations. Although she is young, the fast, and highly skilled player will be relied on to score a lot of points.

Girls Track

The sport that has the most participants this year has the same goals as in previous years: get better every day and help individuals improve on their previous bests. The team is also looking to compete for a DCL-small title, hoping they have the leadership, effort, and team to achieve their seasonal goals. Their first meet is  12/22 at Boston University vs. Notre Dame Academy.

Athletes to watch:

Isabelle Stern, captain (’10): Stern is looking to defend her DCL-small hurdling crown with an even better senior year performance. She was named captain in the hope that she can continue her leadership from last season.
Molly Murphy, captain (’10): Murphy runs the 1000m and is the leader among the mid-distance runners.
Jenn Adler, captain (’10): Possibly the fastest girl on the team, Alder is one of the top returning varsity sprinters.

Boys Track

Much like girls track, boys track is looking to achieve a DCL-small title. The hope is that every athlete will improve and as a team they will peak at the end of the year, helping them place at the DCL meet. Their first meet is 12/10 at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

Athletes to watch:

Dennis Kim, captain (’10): Kim is a sprinter, running the 55m and the 300m. Kim also played WR this fall for the football team, which helped improve his speed.
Max Zizza, captain (’10): Zizza ran cross-country in the fall, which will help him running the much shorter 1000m this season. Zizza has also run indoors track in previous years and after being named captain will really be looked to for leadership.
Ryan Pesaturo, captain (’10): Pesaturo will be competing in three different events — 55m, 300m and shot put — hoping to earn points for the team in all three.
Brett Baker (’11): This is Baker’s first year of indoor track, and he will be doing the 2 mile run. Expectations are high for this all-state cross-country runner.

Boys and Girls Ski Team

Unlike most teams, ski needs to wait for ideal weather before being able to truly practice for races. Even though we have had some snow, they still find themselves doing dry land training. There are three types ski races: cross-country, GS (giant slalom), and slalom. The first cross-country race will take place 1/5, the first GS race will be 1/7,  and the first slalom race will be held 1/14.

Players to watch:

David Villari (’11): Sophomore Villari finished 44th out 128 skiers in last year’s cross-country state championship race. Villari also finished 17th in last year’s GS state race. He is Wayland’s best returning skier and should be expected to improve on last year’s finishes.
Mike Miles, captain (’10): Miles, will be a leader for the team this year as the boys team captain. He, like Villari, is looking to improve his place in last year’s cross-country race.
Christa Villari (’11): Villari is one of the best female skiers on the team and performed that way during last year’s state races, finishing 56th in GS, 54th in slalom, and 74th in cross-country. Villari looks to greatly improve on last years stellar season.
Kelsey Jurist, captain (’10): Jurist had the team’s best time during last year’s state cross-country race, finishing 51st. Jurist hopes that the ski team can be as successful as the soccer team she captained in the fall.