U-High Midway

Fall teams open seasons with new coaches, spaces

Emma Trone and Nikhil Patel

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Cross Country

With a new set of talented freshmen and a division change, the cross country team looks toward advancing farther in the state series this season.

Partially due to the boys team’s size decreasing over the last 10 years and recent underperformance in the state series, the IHSA shifted the boys team from AA to the A Division.

“It’s actually really exciting for us because now that we’ll be competing against schools with teams that are more matched to us in terms of size, we have better chances of placing well as individuals and winning meets as a team, and eventually advancing as a team in the state series,” captain Abraham Zelchenko, a senior, said.

Girls team co-captain Hannah Herrera said that while the girls team is larger than in past years, but she doesn’t think the team dynamic will change.

“Even though we have a bigger team this year it’s still smaller than others, and that just means more bonding and closer relationships,” Hannah said.

At the St. Patrick Invite Aug. 28 the boys team placed fourth, while the girls team placed fifth. Freshman Amanda O’Donnell placed first in the frosh/soph 2-mile race with a time of 12:31.4, while Abraham placed seventh in the varsity 3-mile race.

Golf

The boys and girls golf seasons are in full swing, with new coaches and a new practice space.

Marco Fajardo, a former assistant baseball coach at the University of Chicago and former Major League Baseball player is the new coach, replacing longtime boys coach Clint Naegelin. While both the boys and girls team used to be coached by the same staff, the girls team is now coached by Carol Rhoades, the former head women’s golf coach for the University of Illinois at Chicago and winner of the Illinois PGA’s 2017 Professional of the Year, the first woman to obtain this award.

While the teams have previously practiced at the Lost Marsh Golf Course in Hammond, Indiana, this season they have been practicing much closer — at the Jackson Park Golf Course.

“While Jackson Park allows us to practice on a full course, Lost Marsh has a better range and short game practice area,” boys captain Shiva Menta, a senior, said. “We don’t get as much practice on certain facets of our game, but Jackson Park is much closer and will save travel time.”

The both teams will next compete at the ISL Invitational hosted by the Latin School of Chicago Sept. 14.

Soccer Boys

As the boys soccer team waits to play and practice on the newly turfed Jackman Field, new and returning players have been working to adapt to a new team dynamic.

Team members believe the turf field will have impact on both the gameplay and social aspects of the sport.

“I know everyone on the team is super excited to use the new space and we’re hoping that we can kinda help turn things around for how sports are viewed at Lab and make it a bigger thing,” senior Connor Smith, a captain, said.

“The new turf field is very exciting. Its introduction will allow us to train hard on an excellent surface, which we have lacked in years past,” senior Jacob Beiser, another captain, said.

Senior Jonah Lindau says that the influx of new players and the departure of last season’s seven seniors means the dynamic among teammates is different.

“I think our biggest challenges will be really bringing each other up rather than breaking each other down and really pushing each other to get better,” Jonah said. “I’ve seen some of it so I know the guys can do it, it just comes with time.”

The varsity and JV teams will compete against North Shore Country Day Sept. 11, at the U. of C. South Turf Soccer Field.

Swimming & Diving Girls

The girls swimming team is undergoing a lot of changes this year, particularly the introduction of the first girls diving team.

“I first got excited seeing the UChicago divers while we were at practice, but I never really thought of starting a diving team until I saw another high school diving team at a meet,” junior diver and swimmer Nikita Kumar said. “My friend and I went up to my coach and asked her what she thought about us starting a diving team. She was really nice about it, and gave us some resources. Now, I’m just really excited to see where this goes.”

However, the swimming team faces a challenge in replacing the talented group of seniors that left last year.

“Last year we had a ton of seniors leave,” junior Donna Tong said. “That was really upsetting. They were an especially dedicated group of people who always worked hard, even if not all of them were year-round swimmers.”

Other swimmers have filled the gaps in leadership and events.

“The team has definitely stepped up, whether it be in terms of leadership or just in terms of being able to do the events,” Donna said. “There are more ninth-graders than I expected and, even though swim pre-season is pretty rough, they stuck with it.”

Both Nikita and Donna said they have the highest confidence that they will do well due to the extra practices and the all-around culture of the team.

“I know we are going to make history like it’s never been made before this season,” Donna said. “So look out for lots of exciting news.”

The girls begin their season on Sept. 11 against Lake Forest Academy.

Tennis Girls

The girls tennis team is working hard both on and off the court with a new middle school tennis program.

In order to better prepare some of the middle school tennis players for the high school team, the girls tennis team has implemented a mentorship program for the middle schoolers.

“We are hoping to show them we do on the high school team and get them to join when they get to high school,” co-captain Jenny Lewis said.

Although this program has just been implemented, the varsity team is already enjoying a fairly unique balance of grades represented.

“Our varsity lineup is really balanced between grades,” Jenny said. “We have all four grades represented, which hasn’t always happened in recent years.”

The tennis team started their season on Aug. 21 against Mother McCauley High School. While the varsity team was able to secure a 9-1 victory, the junior varsity team was narrowly defeated. The next game is on Sept. 14 against Francis W. Parker School.

Volleyball

With a team of mostly juniors, the volleyball players feel confident in their abilities for the season.

“I think that since we’ve already spent last season playing together this year we’re going into this season working a lot better together,” senior Ruxandra Nicolae said.

Juniors Troy Johnson, Sydney Rogers and Audrey Kim were elected varsity captains.

The varsity and junior varsity teams began their season on Aug. 23 with a win against Intrinsic Charter School. The teams will play next at home game Sept. 15 against the British School of Chicago.

Sailing

With the largest sailing team in U-High history, the team members are focusing on training the new recruits.

According to captain Emerson Wright, the team has a lot of new freshmen and a few new upperclassmen.

Emerson said that with all the new faces, they have a lot of raw talent that they will be looking to refine.

“With all the new talent we aren’t starting off as well as previous years,” Emerson said. “But, we do have a lot of opportunities to get a lot better.”

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Fall teams open seasons with new coaches, spaces