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Spring Sports In Bloom

Posted 03/11/2016 by Paula Mortel

artwork by Andrew Villescas

TJ Spring sports teams are prepared to take on a new season.

TJ’s spring sports have kicked into full gear; after several months of preparing during the off-season, lacrosse, track & field, baseball, girls’ soccer, girls’ golf, tennis and boys’ swimming have made their mark. These teams have had phenomenal experiences and a few hardships throughout past seasons, but each team is aiming to achieve several significant goals this year.

The boys’ lacrosse team was new on the scene last year. The players faced several challenges, including competing against more established teams which have played at the varsity level for many years. The boys made noticeable improvements throughout the season. “By the end of the year, the kids had learned to play together as a team and started executing offensive and defensive plays. Plus, we were able to put a couple wins in the books, which was very encouraging and a great way to kick off the season,” stated head coach Jason Klimczak. “Once we picked up our first win and saw that we can compete athletically with these other teams in our conference, it really got the team excited,” added Klimczak. The team finished sixth in the conference by the end of the year, which was a great outcome for such a young team. “I look forward to making plays and pulling out wins this season,” said Junior Evan Domagala. “This season is going to be a great one. We hope to be a stronger team this year.” The boys have honed their skills during the off season and are looking forward to making a comeback this spring; their first game was against George Washington High School on March 10th.

After tough losses against North- and East- High School last year, the TJ Baseball team approached the season with a fresh mindset. “This was a young team that had to grow up under pressure,” said Head Coach Alan Bleser, adding, “We started seven underclassmen last year, and only a few seniors will return as starters this year.” This year, seniors Brandon Merrell, Chase Remme, Jon Dar, Eli Webb, Seve Rogers, Johnny Sundeen and Nathan Waterhouse returned onto the field as Varsity leaders. The team experienced a transition of different coaches stepping up to the plate, a difficult situation for nearly any team. “A few years ago, there was a strong division in the baseball program, almost as if the lower level teams weren’t involved,” explained junior Dylan Van Sky. “Coach Bleser solved this issue by creating a unity between all of the teams, promoting interaction among the younger and older players,” he continued. With the different changes made, the program is looking forward to a strong season. “We’re going to strive and play every game with a purpose,” described Blesser, “We’re not going to take anything for granted.” The boys will take on the Far Northeast Warriors at Far Northeast High School on March 12th.

In the past, the girls’ soccer program has had a small amount of girls attend tryouts. “Our teams were very small and that limited the leisure time that the girls on the team had,” said new head coach Marcelino Yantas. “They had to work harder and play longer, which might be a good thing, but it is stressful during the school year,” he continued. This year, however, the program is facing big changes as more than fifty girls have already signed up. The teams are looking forward to taking on a new season with new players. “My main goal for the 2016 season is to take the team to the playoffs,” stated Yantas. In order to reach this point, there are smaller goals that the team hopes to achieve first. The girls are making it a main priority to bond with each other and create solid team chemistry. “Strong relationships mean a strong team on and off the field,” Yantas claimed. The lady Spartans’ first game of the season was Thursday, March 10th against Littleton.

TJ’s girls’ golf team had a great time on the courses last season, with 11 girls joining the team. Head coach and social studies teacher Mark Smith, who has coached for 12 years, mentioned, “Right now, 14 or 15 girls are showing an interest in playing golf this year.” The golf program gained momentum in the TJ community as more girls signed up to play this season, and the accomplishments made last season have received recognition. Former senior Angelica Hawley took first place after competing in the JV Cup. Additionally, the Varsity squad took 3rd place at the City Cup. Smith wanted his team to develop a mindset of not only focusing on improving their skills, but also to enjoy playing as a whole. My sports philosophy is to first and foremost have fun,” said Smith. The girls have been continually working on improving their game, but allowed themselves to learn in a fun atmosphere this upcoming season. Their first match was March 10th against the John F. Kennedy Commanders at Kennedy High School.

The TJ track and field team is expecting a very promising season this year. Last year, senior Brooklyn York qualified for State, and will be returning among other star runners to improve upon last season. Assistant coach and security guard Woody Bonner expressed, “This year’s team will be stronger than ever. We have definitely bridged a gap from being a decent and good team.” Head Coach Darius Reed is a former state champion for track and field, attended UCLA for track, and has received many track honors for Metro State. “Having an experienced head coach is very valuable. The team’s foundation started with coach Cohen, Allen, along with myself, but Reed is building skyscrapers,” Bonner continued. The team will compete in their first track meet at All City stadium on March 16th.

The girls’ tennis teams have grown and developed a range of skill sets. Head Coach Jeff Zinke explained, “My impression of last year is that I had a team with a few weaknesses here and there, that eventually molded into a good team.” The girls took third place at regionals, and are expecting a challenge this year as they have lost many talented seniors. “My goal for this year is to rebuild the team and improve our game as the season progresses,” Zinke added. Zinke and his team hope to win all of their matches in the DPS league and to compete well against TJ’s biggest rivals, George Washington and East High School. The lady Spartans’ first match will be against the Far Northeast warriors at TJ on March 24th.

The TJ Boys swim program had a successful season last year as well. Last year, current juniors Oscar Nurmat, Connor Langeberg and Eric Stoltz were only .2 seconds off a relay from making it to State. Junior Eric Stoltz expressed, “The team has been working super hard during preseason workouts, so we’re pumped to compete in the actual upcoming season.” New head coach Justine Sullivan has committed to take over the program and guide the boys to another victorious season. Stoltz continued, “More swimmers have joined this season so I am excited to see what talent they can bring to the lanes.” Their first swim meet is the DPS Pentathlon at Manual High School on March 11th.

Now that Spring has sprung, these TJ teams are ready to switch gears. The TJ community is encouraged to attend upcoming games to cheer our Spartans onto more successful seasons.