By: Darae Lyles, Holly Haber, Dominick Celano, Brian Ventura
All autumn sports eventually come to an end, and when the leaves fall from the trees a wintery mix of athletics swoop in like a stiff wind.
This year’s winter schedule was a long time coming. Last season, most indoor events were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, but that only means that the Mustangs are rearing to go this year.
The winter sports season consists of indoor track, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball.
Without anything to go on from last season, predicting prospects for this year will be hard. Hayden Schindler, a sophomore Business Administration major from Pikesville, Maryland, and a member of the track team said success or failure will all come down to work ethic.
“It just all depends, you know, if we go out there and we work hard every day,” Schindler said. “We’ll have a better chance when it comes to the competition. But if people are lacking with their mileage and not showing up to practice, things will be different.”
Johnathan Womack, a junior biology major, sees a lot of positive things in the team, especially pure speed. “We’re definitely really heavy in sprints,” he said. “We’re…a more sprint-based team.”
Nevertheless, with every strength comes a weakness. “I think we’re lacking depth,” Schindler admitted. “We don’t really have a lot of people on the distance side.”
The team currently runs at Owings Mills High School since Stevenson does not yet have a track, however, an outdoor track is currently being built at the new Owings Mills East campus.
Traveling to the “home” track has been an impediment to fan participation. “No one really from our school goes to our track meets because you have to drive there and that’s a lot.”
As the upcoming season starts, new beginnings flourish, and Womack said there are a lot of new additions to the team: “We do have a sprint coach now, Coach Ryan. And we have a new distance coach, Coach Mac.” (We NEED his real name here.)
Showing love to their new coaches, Womack also said the team lost a few valuable runners. “We’re definitely a lot different than we were two years ago but I feel like track-wise, we did lose a lot of our vital pieces.”
Schindler is a freshman on the team and is ecstatic to start the season; “I just wanna go out there and be able to compete with the people around me,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good competition out there for a reason and we’re here for a reason as well. So if we can just go out there and just try our best and improve every day, that’s exactly what I want.”
The Mustangs opened up their season on December 3 at the Fasttrack Season Opener meet in Staten Island, New York. It was a good and unusual day with a number of Stevenson athletes posting personal records. Cameron Summers, a junior, set a personal record and finished fifth overall in the 200m dash with a time of 22.46 seconds. In the 3000, senior Taylor Farnsworth and sophomore Hayden Schindler set personal bests, with times of 9:41.52 and 9:45.69 respectively.
The women’s team also competed in Staten Island this past week, where juniors Maryam Al Naseri and Lauren Mellstrom posted personal bests in the mile, finishing back to back with times of 5:42.24 and 5:53.77, respectively. Sophomore Susannah Lehr kickstarted her collegiate career with a time of 9.16 in the 60m dash, after missing her freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both teams will compete in their next meet on January 9, which is the Kaye & JJ Smith invitational, hosted by Shenandoah University.
The basketball season is in full swing as well, as the men’s team has already played eight games and their current record is 6-2.
In an interview with senior player Damon Koskovich, the forward stated: “our hope is to make the MAC playoffs to compete for a Championship.” Last season the Mustangs failed to make the conference playoffs, so they are working for a better outcome this year.
The Mustangs also have some up-and-coming players this year. “ We have key additions in our freshman Nate Arrington, Nick Jones, Ron Ayers, and Cam Smith. While we also got new transfers with Khalil Richards, Jay Jacox, and Davon Jones,” Koskovich mentioned.
Two seniors graduated from last season’s team but Koskovich says: “We are still eager with the new group we have. As they have set the standard of a championship culture that we continue to carry in our program.”
Koskovich said his personal goals for this season were not complicated. “Personally, I want to enjoy my last year and to be the best teammate and player that I can be to the coaches and my fellow teammates. And to mentor the younger guys as they prepare to take on leadership roles.”
Koskvoich also shed some light upon some of the Mustangs’ strengths this season. “[We] are very versatile and deep with talent. All 16 guys on our roster can go into games and become impact players. We are also a very tight-knit group and we are only going to keep getting better as we progress.”
Ethan Jones, a sophomore guard, said the team will really miss recent graduates. Evan Joseph. “(Joseph) was a key factor to our team,” Jones said. “He provided expectations and standards of the program, which ultimately helped us in the offseason and this season. Furthermore, most of the players from last year returned, so it’s building upon the team we had last year with the transfers and freshmen.”
Jones said that members of the team notice the fan support and see students, faculty, and family members in the stands, supporting them, at the home games. “There’s a good amount of fans showing up. Hopefully, it can be packed to full capacity as the season goes on.” Jones said.
As far as weaknesses go, the Mustangs feel as if they do not have any specific or noteworthy issues. of. “We don’t necessarily have weaknesses,” Ethan Jones said, “but we have our moments like any other team. Making the constant effort to rebound is something we have to continuously work on. Throughout games, we sometimes fail to outrebound our opponent. However, emphasizing rebounding is key to our success.”
The women’s basketball season is also in full swing, though the lady Mustangs are currently a disappointing 2-4.
“My hope for this season is to win our conference while also making it to the NCAA tournament,” fifth-year senior Denia Campbell said.
“I do believe we will have a decent season although we lost seniors,” Denia Campbell said. “I am a 5th-year senior, as well as Olivia Coleman, so we were the two seniors that came back for another season. Since we have talented freshmen, I am confident in our capabilities as a team.” Campbell stated.
We asked Campbell about her goals this season and also about her living situation. “My personal goal …is to score 1,000 points and win a conference championship. I am a commuter and not on campus much this year but I hope to do well in my classes this semester that will help me for Physical Therapy School.”
Another women’s basketball player, Morgan DeBeary, shared some of her goals. “My hopes for this season are an increase in our transition scoring, percentage shots, playing with passion on the defensive end, and not being so serious and just having fun,” she said. “Key new additions as far as talent that we have on the team are players that can not only spark both our offense and defense but are extremely quick and athletic. This allows us to go deeper in the bench this year.”
“My own personal goals for this season are to take more pull-ups instead of driving all the way down to the basket where I could get blocked. And (I want) to get more steals. My personal goals for campus are continuing to make new friends and building relationships, and simply just have fun.”
With winter also comes hockey season, and the men’s team has had an excellent start so far, currently holding a record of 8-2-1, with a conference record of 4-2. Sophomore Frank Vitucci and senior Ryan Patrick currently lead the team in goals, having scored 6 each. Patrick is also tied with junior Austin Master for most points, with 14 each.
Junior goalie Ryan Kenny has also had an exciting start to his season, holding a win percentage of .850 and a .922 save percentage. He has played in 10 games so far this season and has been a strong force holding up the Mustangs’ defense.
Their next game is coming up on December 11, a conference game at Arcadia University.
The women’s hockey team has had a back-and-forth start to their season with a record of 5-5. The Mustangs are currently riding a 3-game win streak. Karly Aguirre, a junior forward, is leading the team in goals so far, with 6 in just 10 games. She also leads the team in points with 11, and Trinity Barcless, a senior forward, is right behind her with 9.
Having a speedy team is “definitely one of our strengths” said Junior Aishling Cavanaugh. “Our D core is also very strong and they play a huge role in keeping us in games”
Their schedule is in the midst of a brief hiatus, as their next game is scheduled for January 2, at Williams College.