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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Fall Sports Preview

Richard Edelman
Photo Courtesy Richard Edelman

Fall Sports Preview

Sports Team member Jordan Balousek previews each of MIHS’ 9 fall sports:


Cross Country: 

The Cross Country team is looking for a strong return after their successful 2021-22 campaign. “Our boys and girls teams had such strong showings throughout the season and especially at KingCo, with our boys taking 1st place in 3A overall and Ryan Koopman specifically winning across all of 3A KingCo boys,” senior captain Mustafa Agha said. “Sophia Fan and Karen Zhang also [made] it to state by qualifying on their own!” While Koopman has since graduated, the team remains strong. “We just returned from our Fort Worden retreat where we had a lot of fun team adventures,” Agha said. The team also focused on setting goals for their upcoming season and returning just as strong as they left last year.  “We are extremely proud of our results [last year,] but discussed at the goal setting meeting that we want to go even farther and improve on each of our wins from last year, showing growth and meeting new challenges head on,” Agha said. Overall, this year’s Cross Country team wants to focus on maintaining their strong community, along with practicing proper sleep and nutrition habits. Agha says that he would love to see spectators at the team’s Senior Night on Oct. 12, where they will face off against Hazen and Liberty at home. “It’s going to be a lot of fun with [exciting] speeches and celebration,” Agha said. “It’s usually our most attended meet by friends and family so please feel free to join us and celebrate our achievements this season!”


Unified Football: 

This year’s Unified Football team would love to see your support this upcoming fall season. Unified Sports are sanctioned by the Special Olympics. These teams are “dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences,” according to the Special Olympics Washington web1site. The Unified Sports program runs multiple sports during different seasons. “[Last year], we participated in robotics, soccer and basketball,” staff advisor Jennifer Blaser said. “We have played flag football in the past and [are] bringing that back for 2022.” Blaser says that while the team has good leadership, they are always looking for more people to participate. Blaser also notes that she would love to have people come watch the Football games, saying that “any of our games are amazing.” If you would like to join Unified Sports, you can either stop by the table at lunch, often placed right about the railings and steps, or email Blaser or Christine Kenyon.


Girls Volleyball: 

The Girls Volleyball team is feeling ready for their season this fall. “The team is ready for the competition we’ll face this year,” senior captain Sophie Prock said. Prock says that the team’s overall goals this season will be focusing on maintaining a positive attitude throughout the season, which she said was extremely prevalent last year, while also fighting to make the postseason. “We’re working now on team chemistry and aggression to be strong against our opponents,” Prock said. The team will have their Senior Night on Thursday, at 7:00 p.m., Oct. 27 versus Hazen, but Prock says that she hopes the fans will attend several games. “We hope to see plenty of MI fans coming out to support!”


Girls Soccer:

This year’s Girls Soccer team is looking forward to a strong season, and they are hoping for a return to the playoffs, and to advance further than they made it last season. “I would love to make it further than one game into playoffs, and when teams play us I want them to be nervous because we are going to be hard to beat,” senior captain Caley Newcomer said. Newcomer believes that the fitness-focused training over the summer and beginning of the season will benefit the team’s late-game endurance this season. However, she also believes that the team will need to work on their communication skills throughout the season. “With a lot of new players I don’t expect that to come immediately,” Newcomer said. “I’m sure as we continue to play together we will get better throughout the season.” Along with many new players, the team is also attempting to integrate a new coaching staff, which Newcomer says she hopes will bring along a new mindset. “I think we are feeling pretty pumped. A new team and a new coaching staff are making me hopeful we could have a successful season,” Newcomer said. She hopes to see many fans at most of the home games. “We appreciate all the support from our fans and we want to see everyone cheering us on, especially at home games,” Newcomer said. However, she specifically hopes to see fans turn out for Senior Night, which takes place Oct. 25 versus Bellevue at 7:30 p.m. “The energy compared to other games on Senior Night is crazy,” Newcomer said. “We want as many fans as possible to support our nine seniors.”


Girls Swim and Dive:

The Girls Swim and Dive team had a strong showing last year, placing third in the State Championship. Despite the solid performance last year, senior captain Anna Bertlin also emphasized the further upgrade that the team will be getting this year. “We have a lot of really fast girls joining our team this year and we’re really hoping to win State, if we can,” Berlin said. “[We want to] at least improve our ranking from last year, [and] move up from third.” Bertlin also highlighted the prevalence of divers on the team this year as another strength of the team. “Generally Swim and Dive teams are super swimmer heavy and there’s like five divers at most but a quarter of our team is divers this year,” Bertlin said. “We have 12, which makes us one of the biggest dive teams in the state and we also have Brooke Andrews who is a senior and won [the] diving [competition] last year.” Overall, Bertlin says that the Swive team will be aiming high, and hopes to see your support at some of their meets – specifically the one against Bellevue, taking place on Oct. 6, at 3:30 p.m. in the Mary Wayte Pool.  “We actually have a really really good dynamic with the Bellevue team,” Bertlin said. “The Bellevue Swim and Dive Instagram and our Instagram [are] in each other’s comment sections, hyping each other up. It’s a really fun meet [for] each [of us] because we’re super supportive.”


Boys Golf:

The Boys Golf team is coming off a State win last season, and despite Ethan Evans, their number one player, continuing his post-graduation career at Duke, the team is confident that they can repeat last season’s success. The team’s confidence is also noticed on a larger stage, however, as t’he National High School Golf Association ranked the team 20th in the nation for the 2021–22 season, which only ended last month. While the KingCo and District tournaments for Boys Golf take place during the fall, the State tournament takes place in the Spring. “Everyone played well at state last year, not one of us shooting over 80,” junior captain Elliott Hoang said. Hoang also touched on some of the priorities of the golf team this year, and specifically highlighted the versatility and skill of everyone on the team. “Our team’s goals are to go undefeated this year … our team’s depth is still incredible, in between matches there is always a lot of movement between the 7-13 spots on our team.” Senior captain Spencer Smith is also confident that the team will perform well, citing the many strong players on the team that have returned, after only three seniors left. “Our team is very strong up front in the top six guys,” Smith said. “So far this season these guys have [scores the highest,] but we have no doubt the rest of the team will come through as the season progresses.The team’s Senior Night will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Twin Rivers Golf Course, at 3:30 p.m.


Boys Water Polo:

The Boys Water Polo team is looking to utilize the skills of the team this year and compete for the State Title. “We have a lot of really talented water polo players on our team so our main goal for improving is putting it all together as a team and making sure we can put ourselves in the best positions to succeed,” senior captain Shay Adleberg said. However the team is also hoping to improve the skills of their younger players. “Our teams always focused on improvement,” Adleberg said. “Right now a major goal is developing our young players into big contributors for the team.” Adleberg also hopes that the returning players will see an increased leadership role on the team. “I’m excited for this season,” Adleberg said. ‘We’ve got a lot of new players this season. We also have a lot of returning players who’ve improved a lot and I think everyone’s excited to see what they can do in an increased role.” Adleberg says that he would love to see your support at the home game vs Bellevue, hosted at the Mercer Island Country Club, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 16. 


Boys Football:

The Boys Football team will be looking to improve upon their performance from last season. “Last season was definitely a little disappointing, we had all the talent and it showed for the first part of the season, but after getting a great start to our season things started to fall off,” junior captain Griffin King. “We all knew that we could have done better finishing the season off.” King believes that the new coaching staff will bring a new energy and enthusiasm to the team. “All the players are pumped up and ready to show KingCo that we aren’t a team other teams want on their schedule,” King said. “We expect to come out this year and prove we are a team that no [one] should take lightly, if teams expect to just run all over us they are in for a rude awakening.” He believes that the team has no weaknesses, and that the team has strong passing players and a strong core. “The important [game] this year is definitely against Bellevue. Being ranked 25th in the nation we have nothing to lose,” King said. “Our coaches already have a game plan for them, and this game is always the biggest of the year so you know everyone on the team is hyped for it, especially it being at home.”


Boys Tennis: 

The Boys Tennis team is coming off of a strong KingCo performance, and hopes to have a strong year going forward. “We came first in [the] regular season as well as first in the KingCo tournament … we ended up getting 3rd place in state,” Chew said. Chew emphasized the strong community surrounding tennis as a critical factor in the team’s success. “I’m so proud of my guys and grateful for my teammates, coaches, families and friends for supporting us through this last year’s journey. We’re definitely not done and are coming for the state title this year.” Chew believes that the team has many strong attributes that will benefit them in matches. “Some of the team’s strengths are consistency, game IQ, enthusiasm, dedication, work ethic, and energetic,” Chew said. He also emphasizes the size of the program, and the opportunities that this provides. “Overall we have a roster of around 70 student athletes, total on all 3 tennis teams,” Chew said. “When it comes to Mercer Island Varsity tennis, our team chemistry and our skills on and off the court keep on growing.” Chew believes that the games to watch this season will be the home match against Bellevue, taking place at 4 p.m. on Oct. 10, as well as the KingCo tournament, which will be held at MIHS this year. He also had one final note for the student body. “I’d like to finally say that a lot of our guys on the team are single, so ladies [sic] if you’re looking for an athletic man ranging from 5-foot-3 to 6-foot-4, the tennis team offers a wonderful selection.”

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About the Contributors
Jordan Balousek
Jordan Balousek, Managing Editor
Jordan Balousek (she/her) is the Managing Editor for the MIHS Islander, and she is in her third year of journalism. Outside of school, she enjoys playing soccer, watching baseball and hockey, working at Arena Sports, reading and hanging out with her friends. She is also a very big fan of multitasking and chocolate ice cream.
Tiffany Zhang
Tiffany Zhang, Features & Sports Team
Tiffany Zhang is a senior at MIHS and in her second year of journalism. She is currently a member of the Features Team and the Sports Team and has served as a staff writer in the past. In her free time, Tiffany enjoys reading, thrifting, and watching Formula 1 races.

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    Ben MurawskiSep 28, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Great Article, Jordan!