Sports

Mason High Winter Sports Preview: Mustang Basketball, Wrestling & Swimming Teams Ready to Kick Off Seasons This Week

mustang_logoThe Mason High School winter sports season gets into full swing this weekend as the basketball, swim and wrestling teams all see their first action of the year. What to look out for:

The Mason High School winter sports season gets into full swing this weekend as the basketball, swim and wrestling teams all see their first action of the year. What to look out for:

 

Girls Basketball

LaBryan Thomas has headed the Mason High School girls basketball team for two years, each of which culminated in a Virginia State Championship. But to achieve the three-peat, Thomas’ Mustangs will have to take a different path with different tools this season.

Mason lost stars Nicole Mitchell and Chantal Thomas to graduation from last year’s Group A state title-winning squad. While coach Thomas admits “you don’t replace those two,” he does have plenty of talent to reload.

“We have a bunch of young kids who are very talented,” Thomas said.

Leading the way will be juniors Lauren Kane and Leah Roth, both key contributors to last year’s squad, as wells as members of the 2009 championship team. Sophomore point guard Stephanie Cheney is also expected to make an impact.

mustang_logoAs far as newcomers, one senses the excitement in Thomas’ voice when he speaks of freshman forward Ashley Alexander.

“She’s going to be good,” said Thomas. “She has the potential to be really good.”

While last year’s squad could just flat-out outscore opponents, Thomas sees this year’s team as a little quicker and thus a little more defensive oriented.
“It will be a better defensive team,” Thomas said.

The Mason girls basketball team begins its season this weekend at the Fauquier Tip-Off at Kettle Run High School.

 

Boys Basketball

The Mason High School boys basketball team finished last year at 9-12, but the record is misleading. The Mustangs reached the Bull Run District final, as well as the Region B quarterfinals.

Mason lost five seniors from that team, but head coach Chris Capannola believes this year’s squad has what it takes to make even more of an impact.
“So far, I’m really excited,” Capannola said. “The new guys have made the transition from JV.”

The Mustangs will be guided by returning juniors Jeremy Stewart and Nate Ogle, both who started as sophomores last season, and senior Brandon Alexander.
Newcomers Philippe Griffiths and Noel Obusan are also expected to contribute.

Obusan was the starting point guard on the junior varsity squad last season. Capannola says the youngster still needs to learn the varsity game, but his pass-first attitude has gained him fans on the team.

“He’s a gym rat,” the coach said. “He’s a real high-energy kid.”

Capannola, entering his fifth season as coach, says that previous teams averaged between 40 and 50 points a game. He hopes to increase that productivity by 10 points a game with also keeping the defensive intensity intact.

One thing that Capannola is excited about are the prospects in the Bull Run District. While previous years saw everyone fighting for second to dominant teams from Madison and Clarke high schools, the coach sees this year wide open, with Mason well in the mix.

“This year I think a district title is within our reach,” Capannola said.

The Mason High boys basketball team opens play at the Loudoun County Tip-Off on Thursday.

 

Swimming

According to head coach Jon-Michael Lemon, this year’s swim team is the biggest yet. With 65 swimmers – 36 boys, 29 girls – the pool will be loaded with talent.
“We definitely have a lot of new faces,” Lemon said. “Overall we have a young team.”

While the long-term prospects of the program are in good shape, considering the team has 27 freshmen and sophomores, Lemon admits he isn’t exactly sure what he has on his hands this season.

“There’s a lot of availability and options for our new swimmers to step up and fill some leadership roles and depth,” the coach said.

On the boys side, seniors Will Doty and Dane Warner will pace the team. Lemon says that Doty appears to be in good form for so early in the season.

On the girls side, juniors Gen Jordan and Carolyn Schmitt are expected to anchor the team.

Both the boys and girls teams finished 5-4 overall last season, and 4-4 in the Dulles District. Lemon was impressed with that effort, and hopes the build on that this year. But with so many new faces, only time will tell.

The teams take the pool for the first time at Tuscarora High on Friday

 

Wrestling

With a pair of seniors and three juniors returning this season to lead the Mustang wrestling squad, head coach Bryan Harris feels good about the upcoming season.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” Harris said. “We have a strong core of guys coming back. We have strong leadership.”

Harris will look to senior returners Mike Larcamp and Jackson Thomas to set the leadership tone for Mason. Larcamp, who competes at the 285-pound weight class, went to the state tournament last season. Thomas (130 pounds) returns from an injured shoulder and is primed to make his mark.

“We expect a lot of good things from him,” Harris said of Thomas, adding that the shoulder is good to go. “He seems really focused this year.”

Juniors Ze’ve Lailari (145 pounds), Alborz Alaeddini (140) and Danny Seidita (119) are also expected to make an impact this season.

“They worked harder than any two guys we’ve had in recent history,” Harris said of Alaeddini and Seidita.

Mason wrestling kicks off its season this Saturday at the Raider Dual Meet Tournament at Loudoun County High School.

“It has the potential to be a very good year,” Harris said.