2014 HQSp US Sports - Images by The Harker School The Harker School
This article originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
What an amazing winter it was for Harker sports! While the East Coast was blanketed in snow, the sun shone bright on California – and nowhere did it shine brighter than on Harker’s athletes, who pushed further and, for some, achieved more than they ever had before. That’s right, while California faced a drought, Harker’s athletes ended two droughts of their own, with one team winning a league championship for the first time in school history and another becoming the first the boys team of any sport to qualify for the section finals. After a fall that saw Harker athletes take home a CCS Division IV cross country league championship, WBAL cross country championship and a WBAL women’s golf championship, Harker’s teams kept rolling all through the winter, making this a year to remember for Harker athletics. Let’s get to it!
This was one of the greatest girls soccer seasons in Harker’s history, as the team won the most victories ever for a Harker girls soccer team en route to a 12-3-1 overall record and a league championship. The season ended when the team lost a heartbreaker to King’s Academy in the last 30 seconds of the game. A King’s Academy goal gave Harker’s rivals a 2-1 win and catapulted them into the CCS tournament, stunning Harker.
Harker’s achievements in the WBAL were well-recognized this year. Out of four All-League team awards, Harker received three. Freshman Joelle Anderson won forward of the year, junior Gabi Gupta won defender of the year and senior Alicia Clark was recognized as goalkeeper of the year. Harker also saw five athletes make First Team All-League and another make Second Team All-League, with two honorable mentions. On First Team All-League was senior Julia Fink, juniors Safia Khouja and Nikita Parulkar, and freshmen Kailee Gifford and Lyndsey Mitchell. On Second Team All-League was junior Alyssa Amick, while sophomore Sadhika Malladi and freshman Anuva Mittal were each awarded honorable mentions.
The girls, meanwhile, averaged a jaw-dropping 4.75 goals per game, which befits a league champion. More than a third of those goals – a staggering figure – were scored by Joelle Anderson, who scored 27. Kailee Gifford scored 18. Anderson also had 19 assists, giving her an average – an average! – of 4.6 points per game, while Gifford had 11 assists and an average of 3.1 points per game. Nikita Parulkar averaged 1.3 points per game.
Harker students are not just talented athletes, they are also incredible people, whose sportsmanship and character unite the community. With their season over, the girls had one last great act left in them. The squad changed the start time of its year-end banquet to be able to travel to watch the varsity boys basketball team in its CCS tournament game. The gesture was just the latest reminder of the great work Harker’s athletes do both on and off the field.
Meanwhile, the boys finished the year with a tremendous 11-6-2 record. Despite winning nearly two-thirds of their games, the boys missed the CCS tournament. Sophomore Omar Hamade led the team for the year with 15 goals, and sophomore Oisin Coveney cracked double digits as well with 10. Jeremiah Anderson, grade 11, led the team with 10 assists, while Hamade and Kevin Moss, grade 12, had 8 and 7, respectively. That means that Hamade led the team for the year with 38 points, finishing with an average of more than two points per game, while Coveney and Anderson each averaged more than a point per game. Overall, the team averaged about 2.7 goals per game.
This winter the boys, led by coach Butch Keller, made their first-ever appearance in the section finals. This was the first time any Harker boys team has qualified for the section finals in any sport! Here’s how they got there:
After going 15-9 in league play in the regular season, the boys earned a first-round bye in the 2014 CCS Boys Basketball Division IV Championship. In the second round, the boys met Carmel at Harker and outplayed them for a 46-40 victory. Next, they packed up and headed down the winding, sylvan road to Santa Cruz to defeat Soquel 46-40 in a quarterfinal matchup at Kaiser Arena. That win catapulted them into the semifinals, where they returned to the Bay to face off against Seaside at Menlo School. There, the boys walked away with a sound victory, trumping Seaside 71- 61. That set up a finals game between Harker and Sacred Heart Prep. The event united the Harker community, and a generous donor stepped up to sponsor the admission fee for all students, faculty and faculty spouses. Fans poured in to watch Harker compete to bring home the title, but the Eagles dropped a heartbreaker, 48-37.
The boys went on to compete for the first time in the Northern California Playoffs in a single elimination tournament at St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo, where they finished their season with a 60-42 loss.
Earlier in the year, for only the third time in 10 years, the boys varsity basketball team defeated rival Sacred Heart on the road. The boys’ dramatic upset earned a full report in the San Jose Mercury News, where they were written up as exciting spoilers to Sacred Heart’s title hopes. Huck Vaughan, grade 12, was commended for his “huge game,” and Coach Keller was quoted.
The girls, meanwhile, went all the way to the third round of the CCS tournament, losing a heartbreaker by three points to Mercy Burlingame. After the regular season ended, the girls met Oceana at Harker for a first round matchup for the right to continue on in the tournament. The girls crushed Oceana 58-49, sending them to Archbishop Riordan for a second-round matchup against Immaculate Conception Academy. They walked away again with a large victory, trouncing Immaculate Conception 52-44. From there, it was on to the third round, where the girls lost 30- 27 to Mercy Burlingame at College of San Mateo.
Nithya Vemireddy, grade 12, led the girls with 12.4 points per game and 323 total points. Jordan Thompson, grade 9, was second in both categories with an even 11.0 points per game and 287 points on the year, and Regina Chen, grade 12, finished third with 7.6 points per game and 182 total points. Chen also led the team with 4.8 assists per game.
For the boys, Wei Wei Buchsteiner, grade 12, led the team with 270 total points, giving him an even 10 per game, while Eric Holt, grade 11, who was limited to just 18 games this season, led the team with 12.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, meaning that he nearly averaged a doubledouble per game.
It was another great year for Harker wrestling. Davis Howard became only the third freshman in Harker’s history to qualify for the CCS tournament, after he and senior Darian Edvalson each competed in the league championships and finished sixth in their respective weight classes, earning them places in the tournament. Danny Reidenbach, grade 9, placed fourth in the junior varsity championships.