By Brooke Pan (VI)
Although Pingry athletics does look very different this year, the Girls’ Squash team is plowing forward unfazed. Led by captains Lauren Drzala (VI) and Mahek Hemani (VI), the team has put in hours of work on the courts in preparation for the season. The captains have also made an effort to replicate the team aspect of the game as well. In replacement of the usual sleepovers, Drzala and Hemani have many other team bonding activities in store for both the varsity and JV teams. There are still many changes to the sport that are beyond anyone’s control: “Our season has been severely cut in terms of length, as now we only have a month or two,” Hemani said. “Our matches are definitely reduced and the most fun activity at the end of the season, Nationals, will most likely be cancelled as well.” Despite the issues that COVID-19 has imposed on the team, Drzala noted that “it is a difficult time for everyone and our number one priority is to keep everyone safe. Fingers crossed if everything cools down before the end of the season, I’d look forward to a promising season.”
By Evan Wen (IV)
The Pingry Wrestling team is looking forward to their season, despite the current situation regarding COVID-19. This season marks a change in leadership as Marcus Brotman (VI), Sean Lyons (VI), and Jack Martin (V) have been appointed as the new captains. Coaches Keith Karsen and Zachary Wakefield are both returning for their second season with the team, along with Coach William Lagarde. Last season, the wrestling team had many strong showings at events, including the Trimeet and District Tournament.
“There was a lot of growth for all of the wrestlers,” according to Captains Brotman and Martin. “The team really came together during the season. It has been exciting to watch the new freshmen develop.” While the new season will certainly be unusual, the team hopes to perform well this upcoming March. COVID-19 may alter the course of the season, but the wrestling team is ready to work hard and handle business as close to usual as possible.
By JP Salvatore (IV)
Though the Pingry boys’ basketball team’s season has been postponed due to the current pandemic, they are remaining hopeful for the upcoming season. While their first game was originally scheduled for December 12th, the recent rise of COVID cases pushed their season back to January, with their first game on January 21. In this adjusted season, they plan to participate in two games per week, and finish their competitions by early March. In addition to these scheduling changes, there will not be a freshman team this year, which means higher stakes in achieving a roster spot.
Despite all the setbacks thrown their way, the team and coaches are continuing their preparations by putting together a strength and conditioning schedule and holding Zoom film sessions to improve their game off the court. Leo Xu (IV), a member of the freshman team last year, said that “given the situation and everything going on, [he’s] hopeful the season will be able to happen thanks to the hard work of all the Pingry coaches and staff involved.” The players can’t wait to return to the court and get their game on.
By Hansen Zhang (III)
Although there has been a great deal of uncertainty regarding winter sports, the winter track team hopes to put another successful season in the books this year. The team is led by coach Mr. Christopher Shilts and captains Christian Collela (VI) and Henry Wood (VI). This year, they will have a shortened season, with practice beginning on February 1st and the competitive season lasting from February 16th to March 27th. When asked about the effect that COVID might have on the season, Niles Luke (V) said, “It’s definitely going to make things harder. At the same time, I think that working out and being able to run won’t be impacted too much.” However, finding meets to compete at is a primary concern. Henry Wood (VI) states, “We’re not allowed to have any interstate traveling. A lot of our venues are in different states, and now we can’t go to any of those places”. Although meets play a significant part of winter track, both runners emphasized that showing improvement each year is ultimately most important. During the next month or two, the winter track team will be heading into the unknown, but they certainly have the right mindset to succeed in the upcoming season. Niles Luke states, “We go into this season with the mentality to do our best in every race.”
By Brooke Pan (VI)
Due to the pandemic and the restrictions it has imposed on athletics, Girls’ Fencing captains Ameera Ebrahim (VI) and Josie Alston (VI) have made it their goal to prioritize having fun this season.
As with all winter sports, there has been a reduction in both the amount of meets as well as the length of the season. Despite these obstacles, the team is still looking forward to a successful season in other aspects, including building a sense of comradery and fostering individual improvement. Ebrahim notes that “aside from the fact that we won’t get to play as much, I think the biggest change would have to be the change in team dynamic… so the other seniors and I really want to emphasize peer encouragement.” She, along with seniors Alston and Jessica Lin (VI), plans on achieving this by hosting team building activities over Zoom.
Regardless of what obstacles are thrown at the Pingry girls’ fencing team, the seniors are ready to approach the season with optimism and determination. As Ebrahim says, “I’m excited to get the ball rolling!”
By Mirika Jambudi (IV)
The Girls’ Swimming team is looking forward to an exciting season, despite current uncertainties surrounding COVID-19. Led by Coach Deirdre O’Mara, and co-captains Lily Arrom (VI) and Amanda Pina (VI), the team is eager to get back into the water. They have seen lots of success in previous years at events including the Skyland Conference, Somerset County Championships, and the Prep “A” Championship at Lawrenceville. Though Preps and the State Championships have been canceled, the team is still hoping to swim at dual meets with Mount St. Marys, Ridge, and Watchung Hills. Coach O’Mara’s goals for the team this year are to maintain an “environment of positive enthusiasm, swim fast, and stay safe!” With that enthusiasm on their side, as well as several freshmen members bringing new levels of talent, the team is ready to work towards a successful and fun season!
By Sarah Gu (III)
The Girls’ Basketball team is optimistic about another strong season. The team will be led by Claire Keller (VI), Olivia Volpe (VI), Hope Maultsby (VI), and the new head coach, Coach Hoepfl. Coach Hoepfl has coached girls’ varsity basketball for four years and served as an athletic director in Oregon. Additionally, he worked with Coach Touhey and Coach Murdock as the Pingry boys’ basketball assistant varsity coach last year, which he says was a great experience. He noted that while he only coached the boys’ basketball team, he was impressed by students’ maturity and ability to balance academics and sports on both the girls’ and the boys’ team.
Coach Hoepfl believes that the biggest challenge the team will face this year is whether or not the girls will get to play and to do what they love. However, he says he is excited to improve upon the good things, witness the great cohesion of the team, and “get into the gym”.
By Brian Li (V)
With a surge of COVID-19 cases recently, winter sports are in a state of uncertainty, as all sports must follow a timeline issued by the NJSIAA. These regulations allow the boys’ squash team to hold practices in December and begin competing on January 11th. Head Coach Ramsay Vehslage discussed the difficulties of the season’s late start: “The biggest impact [coronavirus] has had is on the timing of the season. We normally would have started the season a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving [break].” The team is “also required to be finished by February 17th,” significantly shortening the season.
US Squash mandated that only two players can be on a court together and masks must be worn at all times “on the court or off-court,” Mr. Vehslage noted. Furthermore, interstate travel restrictions have limited the other schools the team can compete with; these schools include Delbarton, Princeton Day School, and Millburn High School.
After losing three seniors to graduation and the impact of the pandemic of their season, the team has had to adjust to many obstacles; when asked what he hopes to achieve this year, Mr. Vehslage said he hopes to focus on giving “everybody a chance to play and building a strong team camaraderie.”
By Olivia Hung (V)
The Girls’ Winter Track season has been postponed until February; however, the team is still optimistic for the season to come. Despite the setbacks, including the cancellation of the Meet of Champions and Group Championships, the team is determined to utilize solo training in preparation for their next potential competition. The team hopes to support one another to stay motivated, especially while training individually during a season filled with such uncertainty.
However, Captain Ryan Davi (VI) is keeping a positive mindset, saying, “I hope I can set a good example and encourage the rest of the team to continue to put in the work, for both personal gain and for the team when it is time to compete again. One of my main goals is for our team to come back feeling strong and excited for the opportunity to finally compete. If we can do that, team and personal titles will be within reach.” With all the challenges the team faces this year, Davi plans to embrace them because she is “just grateful for every opportunity I get to compete with the team and show this training has paid off.”
By Eva Schiller (VI)
The Pingry ski team, led by Rosemary Collins (VI), Emmy Baird (VI), Narayan Murti (VI), and Tobey Jay (V), is looking forward to another successful season when they return to the slopes this winter.
The team will, naturally, experience some slight disruptions: Pingry’s typical mountain, Mountain Creek, has banned events due to COVID-19. Moreover, chairlift and spectator capacities are expected to decrease. Nonetheless the captains are hoping for a relatively normal season: “there are other great mountains in the area that will accommodate us,” Collins said. “Other than that, I don’t anticipate that COVID will affect us much since ski racing is by nature a socially distant sport.”
The team hopes to pick up where they left off last year, with both boys and girls performing incredibly well, and the girls’ team winning both Giant Slalom and Nonpublic state titles.
“I’m very excited for this ski season, and optimistic that even though things will certainly be different, we will have a fantastic year,” Collins said. “Since my freshman year, our numbers, enthusiasm, and success have been steadily growing and I’m confident that will only continue. We’ve been working really hard and regardless of what this season looks like logistically, this team is like a family, and we will make the best of it by doing our best together.”