A New Reality

Heartbreak. Sometimes it disguises itself as a quiet, anticipation filled day.

9AM, Saturday, May 19th. Members of the boys soccer team begin to trickle into the locker room, a long day ahead of them. For the second round of the state tournament, the Wildcats have drawn Columbia River, located in Vancouver, WA, a three hour drive from Archbishop Murphy.

At 9:30 the boys load onto the buses, ready to hit the road after a quick stop at the local Albertsons for snacks. Two hours later, they stop for a bathroom break at a rest stop just outside of Olympia. Energy levels are low, mainly because it’s still morning and sitting on a bus for two hours isn’t the most exciting. The boys go back to relaxing or napping for the last hour of the trip.

Around 1:30, the buses pull into the parking lot of the middle school where they’ll be playing in a few short hours. No one can seem to figure out how to get down to the field without dragging the gear down a huge hill– which everyone agrees they don’t want to do. Some consideration leads to the decision to hit up the selected lunch spot–Jimmy John’s–and hope easier access to the field is available closer to game time.

Lunchtime is quick. Jimmy John’s does well on holding to their promise of “So fast you’ll freak,”, a slogan Coach Bartley finds funny. With the arrival in Vancouver and some more nutritious food in their systems, the boys’ spirits are high. Perfect for a quick trip to Target to finish killing time before the game.

By the time they arrive at the field, however, the post-lunch and 3 hour bus ride slump has kicked in, and most of the boys are slow moving, some even taking the extra time before the pre-game meeting and warm ups to take a nap on the field. Columbia River, who is 20-0 so far in the season, starts warming up and hour and a half before game time.

5PM. Game time.

I could give you a full game rundown, minute by minute of how Saturday’s game went down. I could tell you when the goals were scored, who had more shots, when each team subbed. However, telling that detailed of a story wouldn’t do the AMHS boys soccer team any justice. Because the truth is, they played their hearts out on Saturday. The boys came out harder in the second half than I’ve seen all season.

Despite that, the Wildcats lost 1-3 on Saturday against Columbia River, eliminating them in the quarter finals of the state tournament. And frankly, it was heartbreaking. Watching those boys stand in shock as the final whistle blew, watching them hug each other and their parents, taking all the gear back to the bus for one last ride. It was devastating.

But this is the new reality for the Wildcats. Winning state is no longer going to be a walk in the park. It’s going to be a fight. The Wildcat soccer team from the past three years, the team that won three state championships, they were incredibly unique. They came to AMHS already having played together, already having a chemistry that the new Wildcats haven’t developed yet.

That isn’t to say though that this new group can’t develop that chemistry. That the Wildcats will never again be state champs. That would be ridiculous. The team is still over flowing with talented players. Take Max Henderson for example, the team’s rock of a center back this season, and an obvious choice for team captain next year. Cole Lovell plays fast in the middle, and will become a threat in the air if he gains a few more inches in the next two years. Sully Hupp, who took over as goalie this year, has shown incredible potential. So have outside back Zach Sievers and winger Bryan Borque. That’s the benefit of having a young team. There’s so much room for growth.

Watching the Wildcat boys soccer team has been a huge part of my high school experience. And as much as it hurt to watch them lose this past Saturday, I’m incredibly proud of how hard they’ve worked this season, and the past four years. I can’t wait to continue following them even when I’m away at college.

 

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Player Profile: Mackenzie Ryan

It’s safe to say that most people wouldn’t believe that senior Mackenzie Ryan has only become an avid runner since freshman year—she’s one of the best runners in the senior class. However, it’s the truth. “Everything started after I broke a 6 minute mile for the first time my freshman year,” Mackenzie said. Now she’s been a captain for both the cross country and track teams, runs year round when her health allows her to do so, and is a pre- and post-race nutrition queen.

“As a senior, I just want to set an example for the team to always, always, always do their best whatever the situation may be,” she told me, hoping that she’s able to pass that legacy on after she leaves.

Runner’s spend the whole year training, typically only taking 4 weeks off a year. Archbishop Murphy’s teams alternate easy runs, long runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, and cross training such as swimming and biking in order to not wear themselves and their muscles out. They also spend time in the weight room with AMHS’ IRG certified trainer Coach Jordan.

Mackenzie’s favorite part of preparing for track meets though? Definitely the food. “Team pasta dinners before invites are the best. Pasta before any race is essential,” she laughed, “I love a smoothie post race.”

When it comes to traditions and inspiration, there’s one person very close to Mackenzie’s heart. “I’ll forever admire Kristi Bartz’s selflessness and positivity, as well as her ambition to perform,” she said. Kristi, a senior captain for the track team Mackenzie’s freshman year, passed away in an accident that spring during the season. The two ran similar events and trained together during practice.

The 3200m (2 mile) race is Mackenzie’s favorite. She loves endurance races, and the strategy required to run the 2 mile adds to her love for it. Although she’s still building back up to running the 2 mile at meets after some health issues earlier this year, Mackenzie hopes to return to the event later in the season.

 

Starting the Season Strong

This year’s AMHS baseball team has looked promising so far.

However, senior team captains Gabe Feliciano and Austin Hauck say the team could care less about the rest of the season. “It’s a long ways away,” Feliciano said, “If we keep working hard everyday, everything will take care of itself.”

This year’s team rosters 4 seniors, 4 juniors, 2 sophomores, and 4 freshman, all of whom bring a wide variety of skills to the team. Hauck says what he enjoys about the mix is that “not one player shines above the other.”

After observing last year’s senior leaders, several of whom went on to play college ball, Hauck and Feliciano have been finding their footing leading such a young team. “Gabe is more of the vocal leader. I like to lead by example. It’s a good mix,” Hauck commented.

So far this season, the Wildcats are 5-1 overall, with just one conference game under their belts. And although they may still be taking this season only one game (and one team dinner) at a time, the Wildcats have set some big season goals. “To win the Cascade Conference would be the first one,” Feliciano said, as this will be the last year before the conference dissolves and AMHS begins playing within WESCO. “Winning state is definitely another one. I don’t want to leave Murphy without winning state,” Hauck added.

Watch the AMHS Wildcats this season at Roman Miller Field as they look to win state, and keep an eye out for Austin Hauck and Gabe Feliciano, both of whom will continue playing baseball next year in college.

Recovering

March, 2016. Talys Jurdana jumps up for a rebound in club basketball practice and tears her ACL by landing wrong. Two months later, in May, she has surgery and starts the recovery process.

Less than a year later, in January of 2017, seven months post-op, she tears the same ACL again during a game.

Each year, between 250,000 and 300,000 people, almost entirely athletes, suffer from an ACL injury. The ACL, the smallest of four ligaments in the knee, helps control rotational movement. Most physicians recommend that athletes take 6 months off before returning to their sport after an ACL injury, but some advise taking an entire year for recovery.

Although basketball doesn’t cause as many ACL injuries as football or soccer, sports medicine physicians have seen a recent uptick in ACL injuries within the NBA, according to the Andrews Institute of Orthopedics and Medicine. This is due to the high amount of cutting, or changing direction at a high speed, that occurs in the sport. Some physicians also believe the hardwood floor plays a role.

By the time high school basketball season rolled around this past November, Talys had a decision to make. She had spent enough time in therapy and recovering after her second surgery in February, that she technically was able to play. She had joined the AMHS swim team, creating a competitive outlet and helping her knee by using it with no impact. That decision on whether or not to play her senior season was one of the hardest she’s ever had to make.

“I was letting go of my last high school season, and the last chance to play alongside my best friends,” she said. However, she said the decision ended up being very clear after one of Archbishop Murphy’s IRG physical therapists, Robb Lamb, asked her, “Would you rather play one mediocre risky high school season, or four good years in college with a healthy knee?”

Playing college basketball has been one of Talys’ dreams since she was a little girl. Last August, she visited the University of Redlands and fell in love with the campus, the people, and the basketball program. After visiting again in October, she knew Redlands was her “dream school” and she signed on to play with them soon after.

Knowing that she had a college basketball career ahead of her didn’t take away the pain of watching her team play without her this season, however. “Not being able to play this year was really hard for me. I just love the game and playing with my teammates so much,” she told me. “I really had to change my mindset from being a player to an assistant coach.”

This change of mindset helped her realize that someday she wants to be a basketball coach, and she now coaches the 8th grade girls North Creek select team and is a full time trainer at Trust Basketball in Mukilteo.

The rest of the Wildcat girls basketball team wasn’t ready to let Talys go without playing at least a few minutes this season. So on February 2, 2018, the basketball program’s senior night, Talys started for the first time in almost two years. “It was all I could’ve hoped for,” she said, “To be honest I was really nervous, but the minute I heard everybody cheering all my fears stopped.” And she was right. Everybody was cheering.

Every time she went up for a basket, students would stand in anticipation, parents would hold their breath, and all of her teammates were ready to get the ball back to her. She went in and out of the game, resting her knee, talking to Coach Snyder, and, at halftime, practicing more three pointers. Her moment finally came after she was fouled with just under three minutes left in the game.

She sunk one point. And then another. And everyone cheered.

Then with 1:41 left in the game, she finally sunk the three pointer everyone had been waiting for the whole night. And it was amazing.

“Most people would look at what I have gone through in the last two years as tragic, however, I think it has been one of the biggest blessings in my life,” she stated, “I have learned to fight back when life doesn’t go your way, and that working hard is the best way to reach your dreams.”

 

 

Player Profile: Izzy Lucas

Isabella Lucas, or Izzy as most of her friends call her, is the 3rd child of 7 in the Lucas family and one of 4 to currently play or have played varsity basketball at Archbishop Murphy.

“I started playing basketball in third grade because my mom wanted me to try it,” Izzy told me, “Turns out I actually liked it.” After a year of playing recreationally, she went on to play select basketball for multiple clubs, including Wolfpack and Northside, between 4th and 9th grade.

This year is Izzy’s fourth year playing varsity basketball for AMHS, and her second year as captain alongside her best friend Maddie Hill. “I’ve loved playing varsity for four years because the team has become like my family,” she said.

In fact, one member of the AMHS varsity team is actually her family. Izzy’s younger sister, Julia, a sophomore forward, regularly starts for the Wildcats. Although at first it was weird for Izzy to play on the same team as her sister, she feels that it’s ultimately brought them closer and created a special bond between them.

While she admitted that she doesn’t do much training outside of basketball practice, Izzy joined the AMHS swim team to get into shape leading up to her final season with the Wildcats. Her parents supported this decision, and Izzy is extremely grateful for the support and encouragement her parents have given her throughout many years of playing basketball.

As the Wildcats look to end the regular season undefeated and leading the Cascade Conference, Izzy hopes to return to districts and state. “My favorite AMHS basketball memory is going to state and districts last year,” Izzy added.

Catch Izzy Lucas and the Wildcat basketball team in one of their final regular season home games by checking the AMHS or Cascade Conference websites for the schedule.

Quad Night

The gymnasium at Archbishop Murphy High School is packed. Parents, students, rival fans, and middle school students crowd the stands, waiting for the first of several events on the agenda to begin. Wildcat cheerleaders pass out pom poms as the girls basketball team warms up on the court. The band plays enthusiastically, welcoming each new person that walks in. Energy spills out of every body in the room.

It’s the first home quad night for the Wildcat basketball program. JV girls, JV boys, varsity girls, varsity boys. The Wildcats are taking on the Kings Knights, school rivals within the Cascade Conference, which will be disbanding at the end of this academic year. AMHS is also hosting one of their Middle School Murphy Nights, when middle school students in the area are invited to attend the game and a dance afterwards for free.

The girls are up first for the night. They currently lead the conference undefeated and are expected to make a strong post-season run. When they tip off at 6:30, Maddie Hill (sr), Julia Lucas (so), Megan Dorney (sr), Emily Rodabaugh (jr), and Olivia Riojas (sr) take the court. They play a phenomenal game, and finish the night with a victory over Kings 51-24.

Even more students arrive for the boys game. Members of the DECA club run back and forth between their store and the gym, restocking items as they sell out of refreshments. Cheerleaders hand out the rest of the pom poms to new fans, and alumni greet friends they haven’t seen since leaving for school.

The boys, who defeated Granite Falls earlier in the week, take the court around 8, led by Trey Miller (sr), Jaxon Miller (so), Sage Oliveria (so), Rweha Munyagi (sr), and Dillon Singh-Halpin (jr). Despite a strong effort, the Wildcats fall 59-42 to the Knights.

The next home quad night will take place on Friday, January 19th versus the South Whidbey Falcons, with the girls varsity team starting at 6:30.

The Final Chapter

The clock is winding down. 7…6…5. On the sideline, there’s still a small sliver of hope that the Wildcats offense can pull off the impossible on this final play. 4…3. Sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis snaps the ball. He launches it into the air…and it hits the field, uncaught. The Thunderbirds rush the field from their sideline, and just like that, the 2017 season, and, for some, four years of high school football comes to a close.

Over the past three years, the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats have faced the Tumwater Thunderbirds in the state semi-finals three times. In 2015, the last year semi-final games were played at the Tacoma Dome, the Thunderbirds held on to defeat the Wildcats 24-21. Last year, the Wildcats dominated the T-Birds, winning 48-10 and going on to win the state championship. This past Saturday, in their closest game of the season, AMHS fell to Tumwater 10-6.

For some, there are still a few years ahead. Time to grow and learn from the mistakes of this game. Maybe come back and beat Tumwater next year. But for the eleven seniors on this year’s roster, and the several others cheering on the team from the stands, Saturday marked the final chapter of Wildcat football.

This season, however, should be defined by so much more than how it ended. After losing several key players in last year’s graduating class, the Wildcats adapted to the players and skill sets they still had, finishing the season 1st in Conference and District, and 3rd in state for 2A.

The class of 2018 had an amazing season. Running back Ray Pimentel finished the season with over 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. Captain Ben Hines had 6 rushing touchdowns on offense, 93 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 defensive touchdown. Kyler Gordon, also a captain, had 1,616 all-purpose yards along with 5 interceptions across ten games. Rweha Munyagi, in his first and only season with the Wildcats, had 329 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Kicker Omar Rodas made 2/3 field goals, 61 PATs, and kicked over 3,000 yards on kickoff this season.

In terms of future potential, the Wildcats also look good. Sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis passed for 1,578 yards and completed 20 passing touchdowns, while only throwing 4 interceptions. Junior corner back and wide receiver Dillon Singh-Halpin had 325 receiving yards and 6 touchdown receptions. Defensively, the Cats also have outside linebacker Luke Riojas for one more year; this season he had 49 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 3 fumble recoveries.

The end of this season will sting for a bit. No one ever likes to go out on a loss. But that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a great season. To the seniors, don’t let how it ended define how you remember the rest of these 4 years. Be forever proud to be a Wildcat.