by Liz Lizama
While George Mason’s high school fall sports program saw its share of wins and losses last year, the Mustangs have all been hard at work to make the upcoming season a stronger one.
The field hockey and volleyball teams already kicked off their seasons. The football and cross country teams will welcome their first matchups within the next two weeks as the theater team looks ahead to its state theater competition in November.
After placing first at last year’s district and conference tournaments, and second at the state championship, the girls cross county team graduated only one of its top seven runners.
Consequently, the fairly young but talented team returns with an experienced roster, including freshman Logan Funk and junior Blaise Sevier who finished third and ninth, respectively, in the state championship last year.
“Last season, they were both one and two each race for us,” said head coach Jeff Buck. “They switched off a lot.”
Buck said freshman Estelle Timar-Wilcox was the team’s third runner last season. “I think she’ll do a really good job this year,” he said.
On the other hand, the boys team placed third in the district, second in conference and sixth at the state championship last year.
Though the boys program graduated three of its top seven runners, Buck said the team has a few runners who will step up to the plate like junior Tim Gilmour, senior Kiran Menon, sophomore Griffin Warner and senior James Schneider
The Mustangs’ first meet will be Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Clarke County High School.
Entering its third season as a varsity sport, Mason’s girls field hockey team is looking to build upon its success last year.
“Our team making it to regionals was huge for the program,” said head coach Amanda Crider.
“Our first season we had a losing record, 2-12. Last season, we were 13-5, a huge testament to the hard work the girls put in. Making it to the conference championship, bringing home a trophy and securing a spot in regionals was very exciting. We hope to capitalize on that momentum this season.”
The team graduated five seniors but return with a talented group of 21 returning players this year, which includes 11 seniors.
“We have created a leadership team that is working to make the most of every opportunity this season,” said Crider.
The Mustangs opened the season on Tues. Sept. 1 at Foxcroft High School.
As Mason’s varsity football team kicks of the season, the Mustangs hope to turn their 2-8 losing season around from last year.
“We have some small numbers, but we have a lot of really good players who are working really hard,” said head coach Tony Green.
With eight strong returning players, Green said these seniors and underclassmen are ready to fill the void of the team’s graduating seniors from last year.
Junior D’Montae Noble, a three-time All-District running back, will be a key contributor for the Mustangs this year.
The Mustangs will start the season on Thursday, Sept. 3 at Rappahannock County High School.
In between gearing up for its fall musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, in November, Mason’s varsity theater team will begin preparations for the annual state theater competition.
“Though I cannot say what the show will be as we usually do a devised show with the students,” said theater director Shawn Northrip.
He said normally his entire International Baccalaureate theater class participates but this year with two classes, he would have to explore options to choose which show advanced to the state competition.
Details for the state competition were not yet available at time of press.
Mason’s girls volleyball team returns from a tough 9-10 overall record last season with a positive spirit and focused on winning this year.
“The girls have been hard at work this year, while definitely having their fun,” said head coach Hillary Trebels. “They match their t-shirts at every practice to show team unity.”
Two of the team’s strong leaders graduated last year, but eight players are returning along with the addition of six underclassmen.
While Trebels said the coaching staff wants the girls to be in the mindset that every game is important, the team is excited to make its first tournament appearance in recent years with Raider Rumble on Sat. Sept. 26.
The Mustangs kicked off the season on Tues. Sept. 1 at Riverside High School.
The golf team is well into its season, with over half of its matches already in the books.
They started off their season with a 12th place finish in the Patriot Invitational at Bristow Manor Golf Course in early August. Sophomore George Gilligan shot the lowest out of all of the Mustangs with an 83 in that tournament.
Less than a week later, the Mustangs finished fourth at in a match against Central, Clarke County, Madison County, Strasburg, William Monroe and Warren County High Schools in the Bull Run District Mini Tournament. Senior Daniel Schlitt shot the lowest round with a 86 in that tournament.
The Mustangs lost their first head-to-head match of the season two days later to Clarke County by a score of 167-178. Schlitt and John Goggin both shot 44 in that match.
Then the Mustangs got their first win of the season against Warren County on Aug. 20. They beat the Wildcats 142-164 and senior Devin Thomas shot the lowest score for the Mustangs with a 33.
The Mustangs lost their most recent match of the season to Madison County. The Mountaineers beat the Mustangs 176-186. Gilligan and Schlitt shot the lowest rounds for the Mustangs in that match with scores of 43.
The Mustangs take on another district foe, Strasburg High School, today at Pendercreek Golf Course.
The cheer programs declined to participate in the News-Press’ fall sports preview. Drew Costley contributed to this report.