The Lowell's sports reporters have chosen MVPs for ten of the spring sports this season. These hard working athletes have led their teams to success this season, with nine of the sports bringing home AAA victories.
Two juniors carry varsity baseball team
The Lowell’s choice for the Offensive Most Valuable Player is junior catcher Jake Simons. Head coah John Donohue praised Simons, “So far, Jake Simons hitting .409 overall and .600 in Phoenix (6 for 10, double and a triple) and got him selected all-tournament.” Simons also boasts a .449 on base percentage. He has showed great discipline, only striking out once out of 49 plate appearances and has scored 12 runs But Simons’ strength are not limited to his ability at the plate, he also has speed, second only to Elijah Saunders in stolen bases, at ten.
For pitching, the MVP is Elijah Saunders. Donohue has complimented Saunders on numerous occasions, and talked about his pitching highly. “He throws a lot of strikes, and he has the ability to get a lot of players out,” he said. Saunders has proven himself to be Lowell’s ace with his outstanding stats. He is second in ERA, first in strikeouts, second in wins, and first in innings pitched.
JV catcher leads team to championship win over Washington
The Lowell’s pick for Most Valuable Player this season is sophomore catcher Justin Talbott.
One of the three co-captains, Talbott shows his strong commitment by coming to practice ready to play at his best. He excels in hitting leadoff, and frequently getting on base.
Talbott and his co-captains set their goals early in the season, making sure to accomplish them. “Our goals were to win championships, make each other better players and better people in general,” Talbott said.
His teammates appreciate the energy Talbott brings to his team. “Not only is he one of the best people on the team but he is also really good at pumping up the team and giving us constructive criticism,” freshman first baseman Nick Rolph said.
Freshman pitcher Justin Sujishi thinks that Justin is a great leader and is very supportive. “When I or any other player is pitching, he not only calls the right pitches and signs as a catcher,” Sujishi said. “But he also helps the pitcher when they are struggling by giving them encouragement and tips, or telling them a joke to keep their heads up.”
Talbott is modest and is all about being a team player. “I encourage them while on the bench, support them when they need it, and push them to be better players and better people,” Talbott said.
Four-year Lowell swimmer leads team to victory
“The water is your friend… you don’t have to fight with the water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move,” Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Alexandr Popov said. However, this mentality is not just embodied by professional swimmers. Senior varsity swimmer Nicholas Pasquinzo feels a similar love for the sport, and it shows. The Lowell’s choice for the swim team’s most valuable player is Pasquinzo.
Pasquinzo grew up with the Cardinals swim team, since his uncle used to be the coach. Now, Pasquinzo has been swimming throughout his four years at Lowell, mentored by head coach Jonathan Reilly, also known as “JoJo” to swimmers; he intends to compete next spring at University of California San Diego.
Pasquinzo is not the only Cardinal swimmer with an intense zeal towards their sport. “I never go to practice and feel as if someone isn’t trying as hard, as possible to get faster,” Pasquinzo said of his team mates. “Also, Coach Jojo isn’t only my coach, but a life-long friend.”
When not swimming, he makes others smile. “Nicholas is not just a great swimmer, but an overall great person,” sophomore JV swimmer Jessica Weiss said. “He is always funny and energetic.”
The Cardinals have maintained an undefeated record in the Academic Athletic Association this season, and they could not have done so without key swimmers such as Pasquinzo. He has also attended many elite competitions against swimmers from around the world, such as the Junior Olympics and Far Westerns, a very prestigious competition for top swimmers around the country.
Come cheer on the Cardinals as they race for a title tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the All-City JV and varsity Championships at the City College of San Francisco.
Senior Track & Field athlete finds competition outside of San Francisco
The Lowell’s choice for most this season’s valuable player is senior varsity sprinter, jumper and thrower Melanie Speech. As a varsity runner since freshman year, Speech holds second place on the all-time Lowell record list for the 100-meter dash, long jump and shot put. Her personal records include 39’ for shot put, 12.21s for the 100-meter dash, 25.88s for the 200-meter dash and 18’3.25” for the long jump.
Speech does a lot of independent conditioning. “Off season, I practice on my own or with college kids,” Speech said. “I’m also on a summer team and sometimes practice with them.”
Speech finds motivation from both her wins and losses at meets. “Last week I had a jump off with a girl from Mt. Pleasanton High School,” Speech said. “She jumped farther than me, but I ended up beating her but I fouled by scratching. I keep trying to progress since that jump, now that I know I’m capable of doing better.”
“She is our MVP,” Leong said. “If we win the girls championship, she will be responsible for a big portion by herself because she does four individual events. It’s been that way since she started in her freshman year.”
Senior co-captain leads girls' soccer team to championship glory
The Lowell’s choice for the girl’s varsity soccer most valuable player is senior midfielder and co-captain Deedee Pearce.
The athletes have won all nine of their games, outscoring their opponents 56-0 this season — enhanced by Pearce’s efforts, who has been on the team for four years. “You can tell when Deedee is playing,” sophomore midfielder Joy van Hasselt said. “She connects the play and spreads the ball across the field. You can always rely on her to be there and she rarely makes mistakes.”
One of the highlights of Pearce’s game is her determination, in both games and practice. “No one on the team is perfect and everyone has room to improve, but they need to be willing to improve,” assistant coach Gene Vrana said. “Deedee has this characteristic — she works hard and you can tell she has improved, even in the course of the season.”
As co-captain, Pearce also plays an important part as a communicator for the team. “Players are encouraged to talk to the captain with issues like playing time,” Vrana said. “Any player can approach the coach but sophomores and freshmen can sometimes be apprehensive, so they can tell their issues to the captains.” The captains are also in charge of communicating with the referee, according to Vrana.
Pearce also has a positive effect on the level of focus of her teammates. “She is also very calm on the field and this makes the entire team play with more composure,” Van Hasselt said.
As befits a most valuable player, the coach cited a litany of ways that Pearce contributes to the team. “Deedee stands out as a player because of her vision of the field, her almost Houdiniesque abilities to avoid defenders and dispossess attackers, her ability to play through pain, her generosity to her teammates, her work ethic, accurate corner kicks, her commitment to the game and her team, and her love of competition,” head coach Marcos Estebez said.
Softball catcher helps team overcome Washington 8-7 in the championship
The Lowell’s choice for this season’s most valuable player is senior co-captain and catcher Madison Donahue-Wolfe.
Donahue-Wolfe has been working her way to the top since freshman year and now has earned her place as MVP. “She has the strongest arms in the league,” Taylor-Ray said. “And her personal records are one of the best with an over .500 batting average, .900 slugging percentage and over .500 on base percentage.
As a catcher, Donahue-Wolfe rarely fails. “If you’re looking to steal and she throws down on you, you better hope you make it to the base safely,” junior second basemen Yun Li said.
As team co-captain, Donahue-Wolfe stays on task with her responsibilities, and goes beyond w hen it comes to handling logistics. “As a leader she directs the rookies, makes sure transportation is set and keeps the team organized,” Taylor-Ray said. “ She’s a good member for everyone to look up—how they have the potential to play as well as she does.”
Her teammates see her as a role model on the field. “She reminds us that we need to work hard for that win, but to stay humble at the same time,” Li said. “When we’re batting, she’s an example of that double, triple or homerun we all want so badly to follow up on.”
As a senior, Donahue-Wolfe will not be on the softball team next year, however, she does wish to continue the sport wherever she is. “I don’t know whether I’m going to play on varsity or a club softball team, but I do know that I want to play softball,” Donahue-Wolfe said.
Donahue-Wolfe has helped serve as the heart of the team. “Madison holds the team together,” junior Majenta Strongheart said. “I don’t know what we will do without her.”
Sophomore fencer competes with team at all-state
The Lowell’s choice for the fencing team’s most valuable player is Stefani Kahookele. Despite the fact that she’s only a sophomore, she is one of the top fencers on the Lowell team. “She destroys everyone she fences,” fencing coach Scott Cunningham said.
Kahookele practices at a private fencing club, and competes in national competitions. “She has amazing agility and speed; she’s really swift,” sophomore Donna Wang said. “She’s the kind of person who takes risks, and doesn’t just play it safe. Our fencing team definitely looks up to her for that.”
Even after all of her success, Kahookele is still looking ahead. “I want to try to beat the one fencer I lost to next season,” Kahookele said. “My goal is to get first in All-City and All-State.”
Dedicated gymnast hits all four gymnastics events
The Lowell’s choice for the gymnastics team’s most valuable player is junior varsity gymnast Jordan Ahn.
Her team members applaud Ahn’s outstanding performance and ability to regroup and improve. “I believe Jordan Ahn is a very hard working athlete and shows good sportsmanship, even when she messes up,” senior JV gymnast Shirley Ng said.
Ahn’s strong commitment to the team and encouraging words show her belief that ‘relax’ and ‘focus’ are key in competitions. “She is completely dedicated to the team and cheers every single person on, she is an all around excellent human being and gymnast,” junior varsity gymnast Heather Weiss said.
After watching the girls practice for the whole season, JV and varsity girls’ gymnastics’ team coach, Lesley de Dios noted Jordan’s strengths and qualities as the most valuable player. “Jordan is solid,” she said. “She shows up to just about every practice, is always in a good mood, and we can count on her to hit all four events in a competition. As a former competitive gymnast and student in Advanced Dance at Lowell, Jordan blends the two well and is a beautiful gymnast to watch. Plus she’s just a junior so she still has another year with the team.”
Senior badminton player leads team with three years of experience
The Lowell's choice for the varsity badminton team Most Valuable Player is senior team captain Jenny Wong, who plays doubles. As the only current player to have been on the team since freshman year, she brings a lot of experience to the table and mentors newcomers to help them stay focused and positive during their matches. “She is a leader on and off the court, always has a positive attitude and continues to set an example for the rookies,” coach Christine Hosoda said.
Her teammates have a lot of respect for the amount of effort she puts into fulfilling the duties of a team captain. “Being the only team captain of a co-ed 18 player team is actually a lot of work,” senior singles player Kaiming Tan said. “It takes a lot of time to coordinate our team events, like pre-season conditioning and fundraisers.”
Fellow teammates are thankful to have Wong as a captain, and each of them knows that she can help them with their game. “She always has good feedback for us after matches such as how we should play the crucial match-deciding points,” sophomore doubles player Stephanie Joe said.
With the season drawing to close, Wong hopes to lead the team to its first championship in three years. So far, the Cardinals have a great shot with their undefeated record. “The key to winning this year is staying motivated and focused and trusting ourselves during the pressure points,” Wong said.
Senior golf co-captain steps in to help new coaches
The Lowell’s choice for Most Valuable Player of the boys’ varsity golf team is senior golfer and captain Tom Ebergen.
As winner of the individual championships two years ago, Ebergen has led the team to an ongoing undefeated record through his dedication and perseverance to the sport.
Ebergen ties the team together as both a player and a leader. “He has probably had the most influence on us this year,” junior golfer Scott Bang said. “He’s an awesome team player, and he is the one that organizes a lot of the practices and gets us to perform better in matches.”
Ebergen, while contributing as the team captain, still maintains a strong game. “He’s one of our most consistent players,” freshman golfer Sam Miller said. “He handles a lot of the practices and still plays very well on the field.”
After the departure of the previous coach Mitchell Wagner, Ebergen shouldered a lot of the responsibility of teaching and assisting new members of the team. “He even teaches the other starters things we didn’t know previously,” Bang said. “I feel like he’s the one who brings our team together as a whole.”
A version of this article first appeared in the April. 27, 2012 print edition of The Lowell.