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.