Fall Sports Previews

Senior+Aiden+Halloran+prepares+to+hit+during+golf+practice+on+February+17.

Credit: Brian O'Dea

Senior Aiden Halloran prepares to hit during golf practice on February 17.

Brian O'Dea, Walker Martin, and Grace Shook

The crisp breeze, the choked leaves falling to the ground, the time change. These are just some of the few things I love about Fall. These lucky few teams get to use this beautiful time to compete in their respective sports, but that was in simpler times. Now they will lay it all out on the line once again, but they start in March instead of their usual August. However, we have chosen to still call them Fall sports because frankly, we don’t know what else to call them. Like I said, simpler times.

 

Golf      

The highest of expectations await the golf team after finishing third in the state all the way back in the Fall of 2019. They were the youngest teams in the state that season and now they are one of the most experienced since they return every one from that roster. The team’s strength is their depth, almost everyone on the team has contributed for them at one point. Sophomore Jack Crombie has made a huge leap since the last time the team saw action and expects to make an impact this year. They will be led by the usual suspects- senior three-year captain Brian O’Dea (full disclosure this is me) and junior Luke Vance. Both were named first-team Jefferson District and Region 3C, while O’Dea took home all-state honors with a 75 at Williamsburg National. The team has a multitude of potential all-district players including senior co-captain Aiden Halloran, junior John Bond, and sophomore Ben Winslow. They look to continue their JD unbeaten streak, they haven’t lost to any district team since August of 2018 which includes back-to-back district championships. 

 

Field Hockey

While the theme of the golf team is their experience and depth, the theme for the field hockey team this year is youth. The roster is filled with players looking to prove themselves after the star-studded 2019 team that advanced into regionals lost an astounding eleven players. Although they have lots of younger players, they don’t lack leadership. This year’s senior class with the likes of Erica Repich, Emily Sposato, and Hermi Going are looking to provide a backbone for such a young team. 

“I am excited for this year since we have a lot of younger players playing with us. I think these new teammates will help keep a great foundation for Western field hockey,” Repich said. 

Their potent quick-strike offense will be focused around speed and will be led up front by Repich and junior Sophie Lanahan. 

“We have a lot of really fast players on the team, especially with some of the underclassmen coming in, so I think speed will be our greatest asset,” said junior Mallory Greene. 

Even after losing a large senior class and with their youth, the team once again looks to make a deep playoff run.

 

Football

The football team finished the 2019 season with a record of 4-6, but they played tough all year. Three of their six losses were by one possession or less, and they were one of just two teams to score more than 20 points against powerhouse Louisa. Although they lose fifteen seniors from that team, they did have significant contributions from the then-sophomore class. Now juniors, they will be the focal point of the roster. 

“Our junior class is large and has more experience than the average junior class, and we have a handful of underclassmen ready to make an impact,” said senior Spencer Powell.

Xander Smith, who will be a force on the offensive line, is one of those players. As well as fellow lineman Spencer Burnette. Linebackers Carson Tujague and Dakota Howell are two more, and they will be stout run stoppers in the middle. The human swiss army knife that is Joey Burch is one more. Whether he starts under center or at wide receiver remains to be seen, but his presence on the field will be felt. In the backfield senior Austin Shifflett will once again be the bell cow, the two-time all-district running back will lead the offense. This hungry roster is looking to make some noise in the postseason.

  

Cross Country

The Cross Country team has won the state championship the past three years in a row, and last year they placed 5th in Nike Cross National meet.  While the team looks different this year, 4 out of the 7 members of the team that went to the national meet have graduated, the expectations of the team remain the same.  The team is led by seniors Joe Taylor and Thomas Kallen,  who finished 5th and 6th respectively in the state meet last year.  Sophomore Owen Shifflet will also play a key role for the team, as he was one of the fastest freshmen in the state last year and looks to continue his progress this season. Taylor, Kallen, and Shifflet have been staples on the team for multiple years and the rest of the responsibility falls on newer members of the team.  Second-year runner and senior Walter Moak has emerged has improved exponentially over his small time on the team and looks to make a big impact.  The team will also need strong seasons from second-year runner and junior Jade Mawn and senior Chris Miller.

 

Volleyball

The volleyball team ended their 2019 season with a record of 11-10, and overall played an impressive season of volleyball. This year’s roster is made up of a wide-ranging number of returning varsity players as well as young players looking to make a powerful impact on this year’s season. One of those players is sophomore Emily Delany, who has shown major promise through her presence on the court and is optimistic about this team and the season ahead.

“A lot of the JV players from last year made varsity this season, and considering JV was district champs, our season is looking pretty good,” Delany said.

This accomplished group of young players led by a talented senior class including players like Amber Parker and Arianna Rocco will hopefully take this team straight into the postseason. With a promising season ahead, the Western volleyball team will have to utilize all of their newly acquired assets as well as the seasoned players from last year.