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Webb Winter Season Recap

Frank Dariano
WSC Basketball – The 2016-17 season for Webb School of California basketball was one highlighted by a milestone for Head Coach Rick Duque and mourning for a fallen former member of the program. The Gauls helped coach Duque achieve his 100th career win as head basketball coach when they defeated St. Monica Academy 54-28 on December 5th. Senior guard Stephen Chai remarked that the accomplishment was “so low key.” In a way, that was a proper sentiment for a coach that has always been loved by the Webb community for his humility. “it’s all because of them,” said Duque of his players past and present, “I didn’t win one game, they won all those games not me.”
The Gauls entered holiday break with a 5-5 record but their games were overshadowed when news of the death of Adam Cave ’12 broke around campus. Adam had been an assistant coach for Duque, and was involved in the basketball program throughout his Webb career. Before their December 15th game against Holy Martyrs Armenian, the Gauls dedicated their season to Cave, placing white flowers on an empty seat on their bench. The team wore shirts with Cave’s name and the number 12 printed on the back before their January 13th alumni game.

Down the stretch, Webb was overmatched in San Joaquin League play, often playing teams that were taller and larger in their numbers. Six straight losses went by before Webb scored a 63-24 win over Alice M. Baxter on January 27th. The team’s final three games put their improving post play and three-point shooting on full display. Lachlann Ashenmiller ’17, Andrew Dahi ’17, and Jacob Miller ’18 each became solid rebounders, while Stephen Chai ’17, Kia Nalbandi ’18, and London Tyck ’20 were effective from downtown. Webb battled through several close losses, including a back-and-forth thriller on senior night, won by Orangewood Academy 56-50. Their final game went to overtime, though Webb fell 50-46 at Rio Hondo Prep.

Webb will have a solid group of players back next year, including Tyck, Nalbandi, Miller, and sophomores Nathan Paik and Aaron Phung. Still Chai, Dahi, Ashenmiller, and Dillon Kim ’17 will be missed. The Gauls ended their season 6-14, 0-6 in San Joaquin League play.

VWS Basketball – Vivian Webb School Varsity Basketball went into the 2016-17 season with an official team mantra: “The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness.” In a season wrought with highs and lows, that pursuit never stopped for coach Veronnica Alvarado’s team. Led by the scoring and rebounding presence of team captain Jordan “J-Roc” McClure ’17 and leading scorer Chloe Stewart ’20, the Gauls roared out of the gate, going 8-1 in the month of December. The stretch included close wins over Montclair and Holy Martyrs, and blowout victories over Saddleback Valley Christian and Woodcrest Christian.

Webb had been ranked in the top five of the weekly CIF-SS Division 5-AA poll upon returning from December break. Then misfortune befell the Gauls, starting with a 31-30 loss to Chaffey on January 12th, in which McClure was sidelined with a leg injury. With starting center Emily Anabi ’17 already on the bench with an injury, the Gauls had to rely on underclassmen like Stewart, Savannah Thomas ’18, Juliana Base ’19, and Andrea Phung ’20. But Webb was overmatched against league foes Fairmont Prep and Orangewood Academy. Foul trouble also plagued the Gauls throughout the season. Still, the Gauls had a chance to clinch a playoff spot as they entered their final three games. A senior night win over Saddleback Valley Christian on February 9th set up a huge doubleheader that weekend at Avalon. The Gauls left Catalina Island losing both games, but were awarded a wildcard spot in the CIF-SS Division 5-AA tournament. The Gauls came up one quarter short at Pasadena Poly in their playoff game. Webb led 28-25 entering the fourth quarter, but the Gauls were held to four points in the final minutes and fell 38-32. Still. It was clear that this team was among the most united of all teams on the Webb campus. Coach Alvardo said her graduating seniors had become “like sisters” to her. Led by Stewart and Thomas, Vivian Webb is sure to be a forceful team in 2017-18. Vivian Webb finished 9-10, and 2-6 in San Joaquin League play.

WSC Soccer - Webb School of California Soccer had a phenomenal season in 2016-17, winning the program’s second league title in three years, finishing in ninth place in the final CIF-SS Division Six poll, and advancing to the second round of the CIF-SS Division Six tournament. What made the season especially amazing was that the Gauls played under a new head coach, as Greg Gerken took over. But the team adjusted very well to Gerken’s style of play. As with every other winter Webb team, WSC Soccer had strong players from the freshmen and senior classes. Seniors Wyatt Albert, Jonas Gerken, R.J. Duque, Nick Jung, and Yolbars Myrhe had freshmen like Liam Gerken, Kellen Willmore, and Frank Hu to help create a relentless midfield and defense. Backed up ever further by juniors Takim Myrhe, Lawrence Tsutsumi, and Zach Hamman, and sophomores Luke Gonzalez, Cole Sego, Raian Ohtaka, and Cody Murray-Bruce, the Gauls had no problem scoring early and often. Webb was 8-1-2 in December, with its only loss coming via penalty kicks to Community Charter on December 10th. Webb outscored opponents 29-5 in December, including seven shutouts for goalkeeper R.J. Duque ’17.

Webb was the class of the San Joaquin League, notching a perfect 10-0 record in league play. January was wrought with games that had to be rescheduled due to rain, forcing the Gauls to play seven games in 11 days to close out the regular season. That included three games in less than 24 hours on January 27th and 28th. Webb went 8-0-1 to close out the season. Jonas Gerken ’17, Liam Gerken ’20 and Luke Gonzalez ’19 emerged as strikers in that time, while brothers Yolbars and Takim Myrhe, and Wyatt Albert dominated as well.

Weather kept Webb off the field for more than two weeks prior to its opening game in the CIF-SS Division Six playoffs. But when the Gauls hosted Environmental Charter on February 17th, it didn’t appear that they had lost any intensity. A 3-0 win propelled them into a tough second round matchup, which Webb ultimately lost to La Canada 4-0. Team co-captain Yolbars Myrhe ’17 was humble in defeat: “in all honesty they deserved to win, they played much better.” “I’m glad my last game was on this field,” said Albert. Webb will lose six seniors to graduation but a deep soccer program should allow the Gauls to contend for their third San Joaquin League title in four years in 2017-18. WSC finished the season 17-2-3, 10-0 in league.

VWS Soccer: Vivian Webb Soccer made history in 2016-17. The Gauls became the first team in program history to finish the regular season undefeated, and the first to win a league championship. For a team that finished in second place in each of the last two years, this was a season that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Like their counterparts on the boys’ team, VWS started the season on a tear, going 5-0-1 in December. Payton Williams ’18, Dylan Wensley ’17, and Emily Stepanian ’19 emerged as early scoring leaders, while Alex Wilson ’17, Ellie Canty ’18, and Nina Kidd ’17 kept the midfield and defense in solid shape. Goalkeeper Bridgette Lee ’20 racked up a program record 13 shutouts over the course of the season.

With the addition of forward Victoria Romero ’20, who became the Gauls’ main goal scorer late in the year, Webb worked its way through a tough league schedule. Early wins over Capistrano Valley Christian and Saddleback Valley Christian helped set up a showdown with Tarbut V’Torah on January 26th. Webb dominated its longtime foe 8-0, and won at TVT on February 2nd 3-0. Having clinched the program’s first ever league championship, Webb gave seniors Alex Wilson, Dylan Wensley, Nina Kidd, Jackie Escalante, and Briana Garabet a proper sendoff following a 3-0 win on senior day over Samueli Academy on February 3rd. Friends also gave Alex Wilson a chance to sign with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, where she will be playing Division III soccer while studying at Claremont McKenna College next year.

Webb finished the regular season ranked sixth in the final CIF-SS Division Six Poll. The playoffs proved to be a difficult stretch for coach Cle Kooiman’s team. The Gauls dominated Pacific Christian 6-0 in the postseason opener, but that would be the team’s final home game of the year. Victoria Romero broke a tight second round game open. Her goal was the difference in Webb’s 1-0 road win over Academy for Academic Excellence on February 21st. The Gauls’ season would end three days later with a 1-0 road loss in Hemet to West Valley. It was a remarkable season for the Gauls, as the team went well into CIF playoffs for the second year in a row. With a bevy of returning players next year, it’s certainly possible that the Gauls could even improve on their final record of 14-1-2, including a 7-0-1 mark in San Joaquin League play.

VWS Water Polo – Like VWS Soccer, Vivian Webb Varsity Water Polo had a historic season in 2016-17. Coach Tom Jurczak’s team won the Valle Vista League, marking the program’s first ever league title. VWS also finished ninth in the CIF-SS Division Six final poll. As December break arrived, VWS had a 10-1 record. While there were a few blowouts, the Gauls proved they could win in close matchups more often than not. Three of the team’s first four victories came by a total of six goals. Back to back overtime wins over much larger schools Ontario and Don Lugo only furthered the team’s confidence. A goal from mid-pool by Chandler Luebbers ’17 in the waning seconds of overtime gave Webb the lead for good against Ontario. Luebbers would soon after announce that she will play water polo for Division III Occidental College next year. Fellow seniors Maya Fassler and Emily Chu helped the Gauls maintain a stout defense. On offense, sophomores Mary Davis and Lindsay Jung joined Luebbers in what became a consistent scoring attack for VWS. Fellow sophomore Rylie Brick was the Gauls’ mainstay in goal throughout the year.

Being off for more than three weeks took its toll on the Gauls, as the team went 1-4 in a tournament on January 13th and 14th. But from there, the Gauls looked very strong for the rest of the season, rolling through Valle Vista League play. A 13-4 win at San Dimas on February 2nd clinched the league title. “There’s a banner that going to be hanging in the gym,” said a very happy Coach Jurczak to his players after the win, noting that VWS Water Polo did not have any banners hanging in their honor before this season.

Early season tests paid dividends for Webb in its opening CIF-SS Division Six playoff game, a 9-7 win over Cerritos. Goalie Rylie Brick called it the team’s “best game of the season.” The Gauls’ season would end two days later with an 8-4 quarterfinal round loss at Paso Robles. VWS finished the season 20-6, including an 8-0 mark in Valle Vista League play.

Webb Wrestling – Under first year head coach Leif Williams, Webb Wrestling grew in numbers and strength in 2016-17. Still, with not enough wrestlers to fill every weight class, the Gauls wrestled from behind more often than not throughout the season. Josh Logan ’17, Spencer Easley ’18, and Robbie Reimer II ’20 established themselves as team leaders, with Easley racking up an impressive 14-1 individual record at 152 pounds by the time the Cross Valley League Finals rolled around.

Coach Leif Williams’ Gauls notched their first league win on January 12th as they traveled to Lucerne Valley, winning 39-24. A strong showing at the Bishop Amat Tournament on January 14th set up a showdown with rival Calvary Chapel Downey on January 17th. Knowing they would be giving up just six overall points given the amount of forfeits on both sides, Webb saw the chance to make a statement win. Patrick Kidwell scored a pinfall at 170 pounds and told the team it was the most important match of the year and “not that we needed the win, [but our guys] needed to wrestle their hardest.” Kidwell was especially impressed with Nick Batistelli’s effort “although he lost, he destroyed that kid!” Robbie Reimer II scored another pinfall and says he “honestly thought it should have been over first period.” Reimer led 12-2 on points before getting the pin. Tough losses by Batistelli and Josh Logan meant an eventual win for the Grizzlies, although Spencer Easley finished the match with a pin. Webb fell 43-30 and dropped to 3-3 on the year.

Webb finished the regular season 6-6. The 2017 Cross Valley League Finals tournament presented Webb Wrestling with a formidable challenge. In addition to battling the best wrestlers in the league, the Gauls also battled high altitude. The tournament was held at Big Bear High School, which sits at more than 6,700 feet of elevation. Still every wrestler for Webb who competed, nine wrestlers in all, moved on to the CIF-SS Southern Division Individual Tournament in Brea on February 17th. All nine were eliminated from the tournament Friday evening, with Josh Logan ’17 and Ben Chai ’19 making the longest runs.

Webb will lose several key seniors to graduation, including Andy Christiansen, Josh Logan, Dmitry Semenov, and Patrick Kidwell. But with wrestlers like Ben Chai ’19, Simon Dawson ’19, Nick Battistelli ’18, Spencer Easley ’18, and freshmen Robbie Reimer II and Mo Igbaria, Coach Williams will have a strong base to build upon in 2017-18.

Triathlon – Unlike most sports at Webb, Triathlon only has two events throughout the year. In fact, only one of those events, the Tinsel Triathlon in Hemet, took place during Webb’s winter season. Led by head coach Brian Caldwell and assistant coach Geoff Owers, Webb’s triathletes can be seen running, cycling, and swimming on and around the Webb campus every afternoon. At the December 11th triathlon in Hemet, Marty Hild ’19 took third place in his age group with a time of 1:02:33. Daniel Hong ’17 and Liam Geary ’20 came in 5th and 6th place respectively in the 13-17 age bracket. Kush Araya ’20 finished 19th, Robert Torrance ’19 finished 27th, and Julian Diepenbrock ’17 finished 24th.

Webb’s final winter event, the annual Race on The Base triathlon in Los Alamitos, came two weeks after the official end of spring season. But with many athletes now in spring sports, Webb still had a large and talented bunch competing on February 25th. Webb’s boys raced primarily in the first wave, which began just after 8 AM. Liam Geary ’20 was one of three competitors in the 13-14 male division, finishing in 1:15:40. Webb boys made up much of the field for the 15-18 male division, with Kevin Wang ’18 finishing third in the division with a time of 1:08:08. Other top finishers were Marty Hild ‘19 (4th place), Daniel Hong ‘17 (6th place), Max Griffon ’17 (7th place), Andrew Fenichel ’17 (10th place), Gavin Lee ‘19 (12th), Robert Torrance ’19 (14th), Harrison Lee ’20 (15th), and Drew Hirsch ’19 (18th). In the second wave, Grace Kirkland ’18 came in second in the girls’ 15-18 division (1:30:50). Anjali Reddy ’17 came in third place, and Madison Steinorth ’18 came in 4th place. Josh Ratinoff came in sixth in the boys’ 15-18 division.
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