A Year in Review
December 15, 2015
Looking back at the top LAHS athletic moments of 2015.
The Mongolian Khan family, the Los Altos varsity girls volleyball team and the 1991 Chicago Bulls.
What do these three things have in common? They are all dynasties. The varsity girls volleyball team cemented its dynasty as it repeated its victory in the championship of the Golden Gate Classic. After losing the likes of former captain Carmen Annevelink ‘15, who led the team in kills last year, and senior libero Sarah Tritschler to injury, there were multiple question marks surrounding the team. However, all questions were dismissed when the Eagles defended their crown as Golden Gate Classic champions versus St. Ignatius by the score of 2-1.
“Last year we were expected to win, but this year we had to work really hard to win,” senior Megan Wilhelm said. “I think it was the first moment that we played as a strong team and played our best volleyball. It was a huge turning point for our team and I think it gave us a huge confidence boost.”
The team went on to post a stellar 28-8 record that included a run in the CCS Division I tournament which ultimately fell short. By repeating as Golden Gate Classic champions, the seniors of the squad cemented their places within the legacy of Los Altos volleyball.
The varsity boys basketball team’s run to the CCS championship was reminiscent of any classic underdog story. Entering the CCS championship as a sixth seed and with a 14-15 record overall, Los Altos found itself up against the favored, first-seeded Leland Chargers. Despite thier lower seeding, the Eagles had ramped their game up to a new level of intensity.
“[When] we [saw] the stage we [were] on, we rose and played like a championship team,” Thomas Kelleher ‘15 said.
While the story of the Los Altos team is great, the game proved to be even better. Initially, Los Altos found themselves in a 34-21 hole after the first half. Determined to not let history repeat itself, the Eagles surged in the third quarter, outscoring their opponents 18-9, essentially erasing Leland’s lead and setting the faithful Blue Crew alight. With 21.1 seconds left in the game, down 54-52, a last second layup from former team captain Daniel Rosenbaum ‘15 forced the game to overtime. With the Eagles’ momentum building, it was clear that it was going to be a night to remember.
“We just didn’t give up,” Kyle Cumagun ‘15 said. “We kept playing, even when we were making mistakes. We just kept playing through it.”
The team kept the energy high in overtime, and continued its success from the second half. As the clock wound down, Rosenbaum sunk key free throws to seal the game, and the Eagles won by a final score of 63-59 in a night that Los Altos athletics will never forget.
Known affectionately as “Big Al” to his friends and English teacher Michael Smith, senior Albert Gwo carved his name into school history this May by winning the 50 and 100 yard sprints at the California Interscholastic Federation state swimming and diving championships with times of 19.90 and 44.60 seconds, respectively.
“I told myself the whole season,” Albert said. “I had done everything that I could to prepare myself for this moment, and if things didn’t go as planned, then there was nothing else I could change.”
Finishing first in the 50 yard event was just the icing on top of breaking the 20-second barrier, which had been a season-long goal.
“It was my last chance the whole season to race in a 50 yards course so I wanted to make a lasting mark,” Albert, who will be swimming with the California Golden Bears’ men’s swimming team next season, said. “I honed in on my lane, my block, [the] water and let myself feel the world around me.”
Armed with a season’s worth of training, Albert also had what he calls a “special feeling” in the moments before both races.
“I can’t really put it into words except that I feel ‘crispy’ in the water,” he said. “Luckily, I had that spectacular feeling behind the blocks for both the 50 and the 100, which definitely boosted my confidence.”
Cross Country Dominance
Three-time SCVAL runner up, two-time CCS champion and seven-time additional first place finisher were all thoughts that might have been running in senior Lauren Jacob’s mind before her final CCS race at Crystal Springs on November 14, where she’s competed 13 times.
But so was four years of training, preparation and learning to be positive. That pulled her through to finish first in CCS again with a time of 18:05.6.
“I felt strong [starting out], but I was really surprised because a lot of girls went out really fast,” Lauren said. “I knew they would die out in the last part of the race, so I just kept at my own pace and slowly started to catch them.”
Near the end of the race, Lauren cemented herself as one of three runners in a pack that outdistanced everyone else. With 800 meters to go, a runner from Menlo-Atherton passed her before Lauren managed to break ahead.
“There was still another girl in front of me from Cupertino that I didn’t think I was going to catch before the finish line,” she said. “But with 200 meters to go, I saw that I was going faster than she was, so I started sprinting. I won in the same exact way last year, so I was confident once I passed her that I got the win.”
With three CCS crowns on her head from two divisions and two different courses spanning over a four-year cross country career, Lauren’s last CCS win can be summed up in one word.
“Validation, because it proved to me that I was still the strong runner that I was my previous high school years,” she said.