The Southerner

Up-and-coming freshmen athletes play valuable roles on teams

Morgan+Hill+dribbles+the+ball+towards+the+basket.+Hill+plays+the+majority+of+the+time%2C+in+most+games%2C+and+scores+an+average+of+20+points+a+game.+
Morgan Hill dribbles the ball towards the basket. Hill plays the majority of the time, in most games, and scores an average of 20 points a game.

Morgan Hill dribbles the ball towards the basket. Hill plays the majority of the time, in most games, and scores an average of 20 points a game.

Frances Matejcek

Frances Matejcek

Morgan Hill dribbles the ball towards the basket. Hill plays the majority of the time, in most games, and scores an average of 20 points a game.

Frances Matejcek, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Morgan Hill – Basketball

Despite being a freshman, this is Morgan Hill’s third year playing basketball for South, and her second year on the varsity team.

Hill has been playing for as long as she can remember. With parents who pushed her to do well and brothers and sisters who played basketball, including her own head coach Tanysha Scott and WNBA star Tayler Hill, playing basketball was never a choice for her.

“Watching my brothers and sisters grow up playing basketball, I wanted to be like them,” said Hill. Luckily, the family tradition is something she loves.

Hill said “It’s just the love of the game,” that keeps her coming back. “I just like getting better, people cheering us on, just the vibe of it,” she added. “[Basketball] is a support line. When I’m struggling… basketball can help me release my stress.”

Working to improve is what Hill says she has the most fun with. “I love when I can get on the court, and I can [do] a new move, and have it actually work,” said Hill.

Lexus Hughes, a senior on the team, said she saw a lot of improvement in Hill this year as well. “She broke out of her shell…She became more vocal, not only on the court but off the court,” said Hughes.

Since last year, said Hughes, “Her game has picked up a lot, [and] she’s matured a lot.”

“Averaging 20 points, she was a really big part of the team,” added Hughes.

Both Hill and Hughes agree that Hill’s improvements have followed a trend in improvement in the team. “We have improved so much, [in] our attitude, [in] our game,” said Hill.

“Our team had a better bond, we spent more time together, more team bonding,” said Hughes. “This was the best season I’ve played since freshman year.”

Indeed, South’s team has had some memorable wins this year, including a one point win, gained in the last seconds of a game against Washburn that broke their 32 game winning streak.

Hill hopes that both she and the team can continue performing well throughout the next three years, and perhaps gain the state title that her sister won six years ago. For now, Hill is staying dedicated. “[I am] trying to get into a D1 college, so I have to be in the gym on my own time, not just during the two hours in practice,” she said.

 

Sophie Truen – Gymnastics 

This year was a year of transition for Sophie Truen, a freshman on the women’s gymnastics team; she went from middle school to high school and from club gymnastics to high school gymnastics.

However, that did not affect Truen’s performance. Truen enjoyed her first gymnastics season at South, getting to know her teammates and making progress on the team.

Truen found herself with lots of time to experiment on the team. “In high school you can try new things, different things,” she said.

Mary Kampa, a senior and co-captain of the team expressed how much Truen had learned by doing just that. “I know it’s hard to come on as a freshmen and be one of our top girls, and gymnastics is a really mental sport, so to see her really growing her hard skills towards the end of the season was very exciting to see,” said Kampa.

This growth really payed off for Truen, as she improved at each meet throughout the season, eventually placing third, below two upperclassmen at the team’s final meet.

“Throughout the season it’s been small improvements that make a difference, and I see her really getting good in the future now that she’s taking leadership more and getting used to the girls,” said Kampa.

Kampa explained just how much Truen has brought to the team, even as a freshman. “Definitely her sense of humor, and definitely a lot of younger girls look up to her…she’s a hard worker too, so not only are girls going to look up to her, but coaches like a kid that will work well with them.

Gymnastics also provides an escape for Truen. “Once you start a routine, you forget about whatever’s happening in your life, like you’re bad, you just forget about it and just focus on in the moment,” said Truen.
Solomon Kassan – Wrestling 

Even staying on the wrestling team this year was a success said senior Xzavier Severino.

“We went from having around 60 people at the beginning of the year to about 16. Wrestling is not easy,” he explained. “Whenever we have a meeting before the season [the head coach] will tell the students that this will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.”

Solomon Kassan was one of the few freshmen who took the challenge and stayed on the team the entire season. “For him to finish the season is a success right there… it shows hard work and guts. Not many can do it,” Severino said.

“He had to step up this year and he had to work harder just to compete with people that are older and stronger than him… A lot of times we would have to depend on him earlier in a match in order to win Twin Cities or even city this year,” added Severino. The wrestling team took home their ninth consecutive title as winners of the city championship.

Kassan echoed the difficulties Severino described. “Going to practice every day even when it’s hard [was a challenge],” said Kassan. “But it was worth it. It was fun to get to hang out with everyone on the team. We got to be really close,” he added.

Perhaps what made Kassan perfect for the wrestling team was his affinity for competition. “It’s really competitive, but I like how it’s competitive. It’s a fun environment, you get to know people and it teaches you discipline for everything,” he said.

Kassan isn’t sure if he will continue to wrestle after high school, but he looks forward to helping the wrestling team win its tenth straight city championship next year.

 

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About the Contributor
Frances Matejcek, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Hello! I am Frances Matejcek and I am a senior at South. I hold the titles of both Arts and Entertainment Editor and Social Media Editor on the Southerner....

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Up-and-coming freshmen athletes play valuable roles on teams