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, has surgery, and starts the recovery process.

Less than a year later, in January of 2017, seven months post-op, she tore 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 off.

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.”




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.


Consistency: AMHS Football Check-In

The Archbishop Murphy football team is currently 5-1 overall and undefeated in conference as we inch towards the end of the 2017 regular season. This year’s story is so far one of moderate consistency–both good and bad.

Senior running back Ray Pimentel has been the Wildcat’s shining example of positive  consistency this season. In Friday’s game against the Granite Falls Tigers, Pimentel had 21 carries, 10 first downs, and 3 touchdowns, consistent numbers when compared to his stats from the last 5 games. He’s currently leading the league with 965 rushing yards; he averages 9 yards per carry and 96.5 per game.  Pimentel has 15 recorded touchdowns.

Another consistent player for the Wildcats this season has been the rookie kicker, senior Omar Rodas. He has currently kicked an astounding 1,324 kickoff yards, made 29 out of 34 PAT attempts, and has completed 2 field goals, including a 51 yard one in the 3rd quarter during the match up against the Tigers.

However, numerous penalty calls per game have been plaguing the Wildcats since the start of the season. Against Granite Falls, the team had 8 penalties called against them, mostly holding and false start calls. That’s on top of the near 20 other penalties called in the last 3 games. Hopefully coaches can help resolve the holding issues as the post season creeps ever nearer.

Injuries have also been a negative consistency this season for Archbishop Murphy. Star players Kyler Gordon and Ben Hines were both out this Friday against Granite Falls with injuries. Senior Emmanuel Oshuoa is out for the season after having ACL surgery this summer. Other minor injuries have affected other players, leaving them out for a game or two. Healthy players are the key to success, and the Wildcats won’t be playing at their best level until all their members are healthy.

None of this is to say that the Archbishop Murphy boys can’t handle what’s coming at them as we look into the rest of the season. Part of playing a sport, especially a team one, is that you’re always improving and working together to better yourself and the team. Of course, the Wildcats are also lucky enough to have a phenomenal coaching staff.

Next Friday (10/13), the Wildcats will take on Cedar Park Christian in their first away game of the season at Juanita High School.


Player Profile: Caroline Kowalchuk

Senior Caroline Kowalchuk has felt at home in the water since the 3rd grade, when she started swimming competitively for West Coast Aquatics. Now, she’s in her 4th year as a member of the AMHS girls swim team and her second year as captain.

Part of being a captain means putting the team’s needs before your own, and Kowalchuk is a great example of this idea. Her goal for this season is “that everyone swims their best times and comes out of the season feeling stronger and more accomplished than at the beginning of the season.”

A beast in the pool, Kowalchuk “swim[s] all the events at meets.” At state however, she says the plan is for her to swim the 200 meter freestyle along with either the 100m free (her favorite event) or the 500m free.

Last year at state, Kowalchuk placed 6th in the 500m free and 7th in the 200m free, setting a school record in the 200 with a time of 2:01.81.

When it comes to college, Kowalchuk would like to swim, but says it depends on where she goes. “Academics are my first priority, and if swimming helps, then I’ll continue to swim,” she added.

Catch Caroline Kowalchuk in the pool this season by checking out the season schedule and heading out to a meet!

TNF–Wildcat Edition

Thursday Night Football isn’t something you normally see in high school. But on Thursday, August 31, ¬†four days after starting school, the AMHS student body took to the stands as the Wildcat football team took to the field. Despite it being a school night, the bleachers were packed–and all of it was broadcast live on ROOT Sports.

Following a season where all but one team in the Cascade Conference forfeited against the Wildcats, who ended up winning the 2A state title, coaches, fans, fellow football players, and news crews were excited to see what this year’s team would dish out in their home opener. Garfield High School was happy to take on AMHS for the televised game; they had their own share of media coverage when they knelt for the National Anthem during the 2016 season.

The story about this game, however, isn’t about the news crews, or the numbers, or even how two teams united to play football. No, the story of this game is how the young and old Wildcats came together to win their first football game.

After losing several key players at the end of last year, Coach Jerry Jensen had some positions he needed to fill. Most importantly, quarterback.

As second string QB last year behind alumni Connor Johnson, sophomore Victor Gabalis only saw limited reps. On Thursday, however, you could hardly tell. In his debut as starting quarterback, Gabalis completed several passes, including a 30 yard one to senior Ray Pimentel. He commanded the field with composure and ease in such an intense game.

Other freshman and sophomores that received substantial playing time included Zion Robinson (so.,LT/DE), Koli Faaiu (fr.,T/G/DE), and Josh McCarron (fr., special teams).

Obviously though, they weren’t alone on the field. The Wildcats still have several returning star players, including seniors Ben Hines, Ray Pimentel, and Kyler Gordon, to serve as mentors.

“We’re trying to teach [the younger players] to not get too big and out of the game because they get really caught up and worried about what’s going on,” senior captain Ben Hines said. “We want them to just play from their hearts and how they practice, and really just to calm down.”

Senior kicker Omar Rodas, taking over for the graduated Ryan Henderson, also deserves credit. In his first ever football game, he made all but one of his PAT attempts.

Thursday night’s game was about the meshing of old and new. It was about throwing new combinations into a game and seeing if they worked. Even though it was a win, it was also a learning experience, one that benefited both the young and old players.

The Wildcats have a long season ahead of them, with lots more learning to do. But Thursday’s 37-18 win is a sign that they’re heading in the right direction.



Beautiful Day for Baseball 

Parents, grandparents, and students alike filled the small section of bleachers at Roman Miller Field Friday afternoon as the Wildcats took on the Sultan Turks. Over the loud speaker boomed the steady voice of history teacher Tyler McLaughlin. As other spring sports practices ended, the stands filled more. It was a beautiful afternoon for baseball. 

Senior Travis Coop took the mound as the starting pitcher for the Wildcats. He, and the rest of his team, were sporting their brand new red jerseys. The Sultan Turks prepped for their turn to bat. 

I could list every hit and run of this game, but that would 1) take too long and 2) be pretty pointless. So instead I’m going to focus on a short recap of the 3rd inning, which was, in my opinion, the most exciting. 

During the top of the inning senior short stop and Seattle University commit Connor O’Brien had a very well executed double play, knocking out runners heading to 1st and 2nd, and sending the Turks off the field. 

Josh Madison (sr), O’Brien, Brandon King (so), Gabe Feliciano (jr) and one more player each added a run for the Wildcats during the 3rd inning. 

If you’re planning on coming out to watch some AMHS baseball, I suggest getting to the field early. And if you’re not planning on going to a baseball game, you should change your plans.