Los Altos, Mountain View highs honor winter-sport athletes

 Michelle Odnert
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier File Photo
Michelle Odnert has been named MVP of the Los Altos High girls soccer team.

Town Crier Staff Report

Los Altos and Mountain View highs recently held their winter sports award ceremonies. Varsity award-winners are listed below.

Los Altos High
Boys basketball
MVP: Brock Susko
Most Improved Player: Aditiya Malla
Most Inspirational Player: Aidan Witte
Captains Awards: Dominic D’Augusta; Witte; Susko

Girls basketball
MVP: Jamie Baum
Toughness Award: Mone Sekiguchi
Eagle Awards: Alyssa Hamamoto; Rachel Barkan; Evelyn Baher-Murphy

Boys soccer
Co-MVPs: Jack Chmyz; Jimmy Dessouski
Most Improved Player: Ardi Heinz
Most Inspirational Player: Arya Hatami

Girls soccer
MVP: Michelle Odnert
Most Improved Player: Emily Slater

Boys wrestling
MVP: Bradley Saavedra-Llanos
Eagle Award: Jason Klemens
Four-Year Varsity Plaque: Klemons

Girls wrestling
Most Dedicated: Suzanne Guo

MVP: Michelle Mejia
Most Improved: Emilie Enser

Mountain View High
Boys basketball
MVP: Ryan Bahar
Offensive Player of the Year: Jailen Daniel-Dalton
Defensive Players of the Year: Ryan Sadigh;
Andrew Lau
Most Improved Players: Navin Lo; Joey Peir
Coaches Award: Nic Conrad

Girls basketball
MVP: Audrey Telkamp
Most Improved Player: Lauren Casey
Coaches Awards: Sophie Waggoner; Sydney Shimabukuro
Captains Awards: Telkamp; Annie Eggleton

Boys soccer
MVP: Ciaran Hernon
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Ben Smith
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Max Mayer
Coaches Award: Ethan Brooker
Girls soccer
MVP: Sistine Noel
Offensive Player of the Year: Maru Lasala
Defensive Player of the Year: Erin Coyne
Most Improved Player: Natalie Dekovic

Most Valuable Wrestler: Tai Nguyen
Most Improved Wrestler: Jack Hecht
Most Inspirational Wrestler: Javier Hernandez

St. Francis seniors receive recognition for strength, conditioning

The National Strength and Conditioning Association last month listed St. Francis High’s Max Porter and Taylor Tullo among its 2020 All-American Athlete Award recipients.

The awards recognize the seniors’ athletic accomplishments – Porter is on the baseball team and Tullo plays girls volleyball – and their dedication to strength and conditioning. Andrew Wun and Jake Siebert, St. Francis’ strength and conditioning coaches, nominated them.

“We are proud to have Coach Wun and Coach Siebert join the NSCA in its mission to safely improve athletic performance,” Eric McMahon of the NSCA said in a statement. “Supporting our student-athletes like Max Porter and Taylor Tullo guarantees a stronger future for the NSCA.”

Spring sports officially over at high schools

By Pete Borello
Staff Writer/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday’s announcement by the California Interscholastic Federation dashed that last sliver of hope Matt Leong had of playing baseball again this season for Los Altos High. As expected, the CIF – which governs the state’s high school athletics – declared that spring sports are over for 2020 due to COVID-19.

“Well, basically I was trying to stay optimistic throughout this entire time,” Leong said, “but based off the previous comments from our governor, I had a pretty good feeling the season was about to get canceled.”

So did his head coach, Gabe Stewart, yet receiving the official word from the CIF still stung.

“Not a surprise but still a shock due to the impact of the decision when the announcement was made,” Stewart said.

That impact is especially hard on seniors, who will never suit up for their schools again. Seniors like Mountain View High swimmer Lexi Rudolph, who prior to the announcement feared that she would not be able to compete in the Central Coast Section and state championships.

“It doesn’t help when you add on the fact that this is my senior year and I’ll never get these chances again,” she said.

At Los Altos High, athletic director Michelle Noeth is making sure that her seniors will be acknowledged – season or not.

“I am working with the spring coaches to get photos of spring- sport seniors to recognize them throughout the season on Instagram and Twitter,” she said. “(This) week I will be posting a slide show of our seniors.”

Noeth added that she is also working with the spring coaches “on how we want to wrap up the season, so the athletes have a feeling of closure.”

While this isn’t the way Stewart envisioned his team’s promising season to end, the longtime baseball coach and teacher sees a lesson in what the coronavirus pandemic has wrought.

“We are all disappointed, but I know the team is intelligent and mature enough to understand the gravity of the current situation,” he said. “It’s a time for everyone to focus on the fact lives are at stake and this is an opportunity to figure out a way to grind through adversity.”

Leong aims to do just that.

“While I was disappointed it ended so early, it just motivates me to work even harder to make next season that much more memorable,” the junior said.
The CIF will now focus on the fall sports season, with hopes that there will be one.

“As always, our top priority is everyone’s ongoing health and safety during this challenging time,” CIF executive director Ron Nocetti said in a statement, “and we all look forward to the day when education-based athletics resumes.”

LA native Gampell having career year as season ends early

By Pete Borello
Staff Writer/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carson Gampell’s senior season on the Grinnell College baseball team was off to a better start than he ever expected. The Los Altos native was batting a team-best .593 after eight games and received conference and national recognition for his performance during the first week of March.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the best stretch of my career – by far,” said Gampell, whose three homers and 13 RBIs also led the Pioneers.

But the first baseman will never know how long that stretch would have lasted. On March 11, Grinnell – a small, private liberal arts college in Iowa – canceled its spring sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carson Gampell” width=
Jackie Lin/Special to the Town Crier
Carson Gampell keeps his eye on the ball. The Los Altos native led Grinnell College with a .593 batting average this season.

“That was a tough day for all of us,” said Gampell, a graduate of Menlo School, “but it was 100 percent the right decision.”

It overshadowed two pieces of positive news Gampell received that week. A day earlier, he was named the Midwest Conference Player of Week for the first time. And two hours after learning that not only was the season canceled but all classes would go online, he was honored by D3baseball.com. The website, which covers NCAA Division III baseball, selected him as the first baseman on its Team of the Week.

“It was a wave of emotions,” Gampell said of his roller coaster of a week. “Bittersweet is the best way to put it. It was great to get the league and DIII honors, but it also may have been the last time I play baseball competitively.”

If it was, Gampell went out with a bang. He went 4-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs in the Pioneers’ March 8 finale, a 14-11 win at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

“That was one of the best offensive games of my life,” Gampell said. “I don’t think I had ever hit two homers in a game before.”

The effort capped a stellar series for Gampell, who batted a sizzling .769 over the four games.

“That last weekend was the best of my life,” he said. “I was confident at the plate – and the ball looked so big – and I just tried to stay locked in.”

Along with his impressive batting stats (10-for-13 with three homers, a double and eight RBIs), Gampell was flawless from the field (no errors among his 19 chances) in the series.

But more importantly for the two-time team captain, the Pioneers won three of the games to improve to 5-3.

“We were playing well, battled back and showed grit,” Gampell said. “We have never made it to the DIII tournament – the conference tournament winner goes – and we were thinking we could do that this year. We were looking forward to that.”
As was Grinnell head coach Tim Hollibaugh, also excited by the way Gampell and company were playing as they headed into their conference slate.

“He is just a tremendous person that we will all miss, along with his eight other senior teammates,” Hollibaugh, said. “You can’t replace experience in athletics, and this group was special.”

Last year wasn’t so special for Gampell, though, as injuries limited him to just 11 games. He focused on getting stronger in the offseason, and it paid off.

“When you’re strong, you don’t have to do as much at the plate,” Gampell said. “Just put the bat on the ball and let the power do the rest.”

This was the kind of player Hollibaugh always hoped the 6-foot-4 Gampell would turn out to be.

“To see him at full strength truly demonstrated his full potential,” the coach said. “The numbers he was putting up were crazy, and it would have been fun to see this play out with a full year.”

While the pandemic has prompted the NCAA to grant seniors in spring sports another year of eligibility, Gampell said he won’t be back at Grinnell if he decides to play again. On track to graduate with a double major in economics and math, Gampell plans to attend grad school in the fall (Grinnell does not have a graduate program).

“It would be awesome to play another year somewhere, but I’m not banking on it,” he said. “The door’s slightly ajar – it’s not slammed shut.”

If that door does shut, Gampell’s last season will be one he will remember for closing too soon.

“To get it taken away like that was really tough,” he said. “For me, the biggest thing was not knowing that stepping off the field that Sunday was going to be it.”

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