The one thing that is universal in late August among players and coaches of athletic teams of the more than 20 schools across the county is the optimism and hope for an improved season from the year before.
Another school year has begun and the majority of Wheaton High School teams kicked off their new season last weekend. The Knights teams, like the rest of the county teams, hope to improve with a few more victories, but for some teams one victory will be a significant milestone.
The football team, lead by Coach Joe Ortega, hopes to build on an exciting 2010 campaign that might have been short on wins (4-6) but wasn’t short on scoring, averaging over 25 points a game. Someone will have to fill the shoes of graduate, who gained over 1900 yards and was the county’s 2nd leading rusher. The team this season is “senior heavy” so hopefully the experience will pay-off in 2011.
Wheaton’s boys soccer team will be seeking to rebound from last season. Coach Oscar Amaguana’s team was hit early with injuries last season--which hurt the team--but the Knights turned things around by mid-season to finish 4-10. This year the team hopes to return to the eight-win range they enjoyed the previous two seasons. Key players to watch include Heyner Pajaro and Bertrand Chepygang.
The Wheaton girls, however, are looking for something a little more elusive - one victory. The Lady Knights have suffered through three straight winless seasons with only two ties. Progress was measured in goals scored year-to-year. This season, Wheaton is optimistic under new Coach Jeremy Gelling that they will get their first win and maybe more. The team will have to overcome the loss of a couple veteran offensive players due to academic ineligibility, a couple early training camp injuries and the graduation of key defenders Carla Desousa, Sindi Guillen and Goalie/Midfielder Ashley Latter. The talent may be improved enough to make this the Knights' year.
Wheaton’s field hockey team suffers a similar fate as the soccer team in that many of the players that arrive at tryouts are inexperienced. They will also be looking for a first win under Coach Alex Helberg.
The girls volleyball team struggled last year but not from lack of effort. Coach Alex Theoharis’ team fought hard last season but would find themselves coming up short in the end. The hope is this will the Knight’s year for greater success.
The Wheaton golf team is also looking to continue improvement. Coach Eric Ellingson’s team is led by senior Marc Anastasi, the top returning player and mentor to the younger players. The rest of the team is inexperienced, but are making great strides from last year. Their main goal day-to-day consistency from day to day.
The cross country team did not lose any key runners. Returning is Niambia Njerakey, who was a three-season state qualifier last school year, placed 21st at State in cross country, 6th in the 800 during indoor and 10th in the 1600m at the outdoor state meet. Morgan Rivers is also looking very strong, coming off of a summer training regimen. The team has added quite a few new runners so the goal is to qualify as a team for the state meet.
Good luck to all the Wheaton Knight teams.