Fall sports ride high with sectional and state victories

Will Baker

In the return of a fall season, Redwood teams saw sweeping successes in playoff competition. Accounting for three trips to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division II state championships, as well as standout performances in North Coast Section (NCS) play, Redwood brought home several pennants from sectional and state competition. This plethora of achievements was earmarked by three teams: cross country, boys’ water polo and girls’ volleyball.


Cross Country

Both girls’ and boys’ cross country teams struck impressive performances this season. Junior Daegan Cutter impressed in the NCS final where he ran a 15:22 to cruise to a first place finish. For Cutter, the grind to reach championship level heights was lessened by the team’s attitude throughout their workouts.

“It’s so easy to have a good training day when you’re having fun the whole time. … That camaraderie makes [the team] really special,” Cutter said.

Although the boys’ team did not make the State race, Cutter was joined by sophomore Ethan Werner in getting solo bids to the State Championship, where Cutter was unable to run due to an illness. The girls’ team added to its pedigree with a third-place finish at the NCS Division II final led by junior Audrey MacLean who ran a 17:56 three-mile to take second place. With three runners placing in the top 10 of the NCS championship, the girl’s cross country team was given a CIF Division II State Championship berth. 

Cutter attributed much of the team’s success to its culture of consistent work ethic and community.

“We have so many people on [the cross country team] pouring their hearts and souls into the workouts, and you really see improvement from that. I think that’s been the key to success — hard work and a love for the sport and the team,” Cutter said.


Boys’ Water Polo

The Redwood boys’ water polo team stayed hot through playoff competition, finishing with only six losses as they hoisted the CIF NorCal State Championship plaque with their 26th win on the season. A loss to Archie Williams moved them out of the NCS Open Division and into Division I, where the team handily beat Acalanes for their second NCS win under Coach Rudy Kardos. For Kardos, the team’s profile as a top Northern California team was an obstacle for the team mentally.

Senior water polo captain Marco Asiano hoists the California Interscholastic Federation plaque after the Giants’ win against Jesuit. (Photo by Sam Michaels)

“The bar was almost too high. It’s hard sometimes when you play an opponent and you know you are going to beat them by 10 or 15 goals … to keep the motivation. The downside of that is that the joy of play is not where it should be,” Kardos said.

Still, a standout season from a strong central core of players allowed the Giants to find continuity in their triumphs, going on to win the NorCal State Championship over Jesuit High School 14-7. Kardos spoke on what allowed for this success to perpetuate through the season’s conclusion.

“As the season was winding down towards the end, the team was just getting more and more focused, and … we emphasized as a coaching staff that it doesn’t matter how good a team is,” Kardos said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it that far and you do not want that to get away from you.” 

While the team will lose top seniors in captain Marco Asiano and lefty Travis Hughes, integral pieces of the team’s postseason push will be back next year. This includes leading scorer Billy Zech (109 goals) and goalie Charlie Mills (221 saves), putting the team in a good position for another deep postseason stretch. 




Girls’ Volleyball

After a heartbreaking loss to Marin Catholic (MC) in the NCS finals, Redwood girls’ volleyball tore through the Division II State Championship bracket, securing an eventual 3-1 win over Carlsbad High School in the final. Senior libero Sophia Shaw believes that, although the MC loss was disappointing, it contributed to their eventual success. 

“Losing [to Marin Catholic] really sucked. Coming back, it was hard for us, but we did it. We came back and we didn’t let that loss phase us,” Shaw said.

The team faced more adversity early on in the season with injuries to junior setter Kaley Matthews and senior defensive specialist Annabella Ure. Having two key players return for the final stretch of the season, the team was prepared to disrupt any notions that they were unable to perform at its highest level.

The girls’ varsity volleyball team celebrates its state championship.

“Once they came back, we had this newfound motivation that we wanted to win and knew that we were capable of it. I think we peaked at the right time. … Our mentality was, ‘we don’t have anything to lose,’ so we started putting everything we had on the court which allowed us to win, and we were way more motivated,” Shaw said.

The feats of each team in the 2021 fall season provided a refreshing look into the state of Redwood sports after an abbreviated season in the previous school year. Much of the success that each team was able to achieve was predicated on the efforts of students who still have time left in Redwood’s athletics department. Parting seniors took advantage of the lost time of the past year and finished off their last high school seasons with team victories.