A look into winter sports

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The 2018-2019 PSAL winter season has started and winter athletes are immersed in the grind of their respective sports. Townsend Harris sports fans are gearing up to follow their favorite teams, from girls’ indoor track to boys’ varsity basketball and a host of other sports in between to make this an exciting season.

In 2018, the girls’ indoor track team finished the season placing 2nd in the Queens Borough Championship, but captain senior Patrycja Lis believes that improvements can still be made. Last year, the team was plagued with injuries that she felt were preventable. This season, she hopes they will make improvements in punctuality and allow time for proper warmup and cooldown sessions, resulting in fewer injuries. Although the girls have team goals, they also have specific individual goals to motivate them throughout the season. Freshman Chloe Munoz shared that she would like to work on her form and try all the new events that indoor track has to offer. As for Patrycja, “My mindset this season is more on how best to make sure everyone is happy… so that everyone improves as a team.”

The boys’ indoor track team is in the middle of their winter season as well. Although the Hawks have been successful as a team, each runner wants to achieve individual goals, similar to the girls’ indoor track team. Freshman Jake Chang said, “I would like to be one of the ‘best freshmen’ in the city in my events.” Sophomore Balraj Chahal also shared that “ he would like to qualify for City Championships in two events and win the Queens Borough Championships as a team…Better attitudes toward running and wanting to improve is what will help a team thrive, which is what we strive to do.”

This season, the girl’s table tennis team welcomed a number of new players and hopes to find strength in numbers. “The team is striving to be at the top of the division and make it into quarterfinals [of playoffs],” said co-captain Chloe Pan. Co-captain Jaime Tran added, “(quote) that one of their major goals is to beat Francis Lewis, one of their biggest rivals. Before the team can achieve these goals, however, they must overcome several obstacles. The main challenge is the loss of key seniors. “We lost two of our singles players, who were both really good,” Jaime said.  “I know that we might not be as strong of a team as we used to be, but I think that it’s also really good that we have a lot of freshmen and sophomore beginners who have the potential to improve.” With the growing number of players joining the team and the confidence displayed by the captains, the girls’ table tennis team has high hopes this season.

The co-ed wrestling season is midway complete and the team has their sights set on the championship. Captain senior Steven Ramkissoon and sophomore Benjamin Babaev share similar goals, both looking to become individual city champions and bring home the blended banner as a team. In order to achieve this, the team must rely on each other to perform to the best of their ability. Sophomore Rachel Chai said, “To improve, we just need to keep our heads in the game and attend practices frequently.” In the end, as each wrestler strives to meet their individual goals, their team dynamic ultimately betters their performance. Steven added, “It really comes down to being a team sport as the strength of the wrestler is the team and the strength of the team is the wrestler.”

After losing multiple star players from last year, the boys’ varsity basketball team is working harder than ever this winter. Captain Dillon Cortes said, “We lost a lot of our main scorers so we need new players to pick up the slack, which is our main issue.” These new players include freshmen who just finished tryouts for the team. Freshman Brandon Jaquez said, “Going into tryouts I was just trying to be the best player I can be and showing the coach that I can be useful for the future.” Regarding their overall goals for the season, sophomore Dylan Samuel said, “The team hopes to win the division and have a deep playoff run.” In order to achieve this, they stress and value their practice time. Rookie of the year Jahdon Jerome said, “During practice, we want to run and go over plays that would help us score in the game…we want to practice so we get familiar with each other [on the court].” The team is about halfway through the season and hope to go on a strong playoff run.

The girls’ varsity basketball team had an impressive season last year, advancing to the third round of the playoffs and losing by only five points to Longwood Preparatory Academy. Rookie of the year Xandria Crosland said, “Our goals are to always try our hardest and help our players be the best they can be. Hopefully, we remain undefeated and win the championship this year.” These goals are achieved through grueling practices which include agility drills and stimulation plays to prepare them for new aspects of the game. “Last season, the majority of our points came from either mid-range shots or 3 pointers,” said senior Kimberly Lau. “This season, we changed our offense by penetrating the defense more and attempting more shots from the inside. Doing so kept the defense on their toes and gave them more players to be afraid of.” Coach and Athletic Director Lauren. Caiaccia commented, “This year, one of the things I would like to see us improve on is post play, meaning our forwards down play. Right now we run more of a guard-based offense, with a lot of outside shooting and very up-tempo breakaways and fast breaks.” Overall, the team’s effort and dedication will hopefully lead them to the finals this season.

Through developing new players, hard work, and playing with tenacity, the Hawks are on the road to success. Be sure to check out upcoming games taking place throughout the rest of the winter season!