Fall sports preview

With the cancellation of spring sports due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many student-athletes and coaches are shifting their focus to the upcoming fall sports season. Last fall, Westminster came home with two state championship titles, both in cross-country, as well as the runnerup title for volleyball. Next fall, Westminster hopes to come away with even more state titles. Westminster’s fall sports include boys and girls cross-country, football, softball, and volleyball.

Coached by Joe Tribble, the boys cross-country team has won the state championship three years in a row and is poised to defend its state title in 2020. “I really want to help my team win a state championship as that would make four state titles for us seniors, so it would be really great if we could finish it off our senior season,” said junior Matthew Propp.

Last fall, the boys TrailCats came out on top to defend their title against Pace by two points, followed close behind by Lovett. While Westminster is not only losing rivals Pace and Lovett to the new region alignments this season, they are also losing a number of solid senior runners, including four of their top seven. “We lost our number one, Zachary Roe, our number three, Scott Arbery, and a couple other of the top seven. However, we have lots of strong underclassmen, along with a strong work ethic among the team,” said Propp.

Like boys cross-country, the girls cross-country team also consistently proves its strength each year. While two of the top seven runners are graduating this year (seniors Alison Wilkinson and Katherine Vuckovic), the future of the team looks bright. “We have nine returning runners that broke 22:00 last fall and seven more that broke 22:30. In addition to these 16 runners, we have others that could potentially break into the lineup,” said coach Amy Eubanks. 

While the girls TrailCats look strong for next season, they face strong competition from 4A team Oconee County, which has moved down to 3A. “They ran a 20:23 average time at state and were ranked seventh all-class in the final season rankings. Westminster finished 10th in the final season rankings with a 20:40 average time at state,” said Eubanks. 

The girls cross-country team at Westminster, however, is much more than a state title; they are a sisterhood. In the words of Eubanks, “the team camaraderie is remarkable!”

A fan-favorite sport at Westminster, football, faces quite the challenge in our region next year, but the team is preparing hard now so they will be ready to meet the competition. 

The new region includes defending 3A champ Cedar Grove, GAC, Sandy Creek, Carver of Atlanta, Douglass of Atlanta, Redan, and Salem of Conyers. Both Sandy Creek and GAC played in their respective class semifinals last year, and both Carver of Atlanta and Douglass of Atlanta played in their class quarterfinals last year as well.

Besides the difficult new region alignments, the football team also faces the challenge of losing the players in its senior class. “We did lose an exceptional senior class to graduation; however, I am very excited about our group that returns,” said head coach Gerry Romberg. “It’s going to be a tremendous challenge to earn a playoff berth in 2020 and keep our streak going. However, with every difficult challenge, there is also a great opportunity,” said Romberg. 

In order to keep its 13-year playoff streak going, football has been training for the upcoming season since January. Instead of in-person workouts, athletes are now doing at-home workouts instead. “All of our players are in the sports performance class,” said Romberg. “The players access our weekly workouts on our Schoology page.” 

Like football, the softball team is also making the most out of the quarantine in order to be ready for the upcoming fall season. “We’ve started a workout competition in quarantine, so we’re getting in shape and honing our softball skills while social distancing is still going on,” said junior Jenna Brown. 

However, as softball has begun to rise in popularity, Westminster has decided to add a junior varsity team to its softball program. Before this upcoming season, softball was the only sport with just one varsity team out of the fall sports at Westminster. The official details surrounding the new JV team are yet to be finalized. “I believe that there will be a JV team and then some swing players that would dress up for varsity games too,” said Brown. 

Previous region competition for the BatCats included Pace and Lovett, but as those teams move down into region 2A, GAC will become a big rival for the softball team. However, the team will still have opportunities to play Lovett and Pace during the season in non-region games.

Like the varsity softball team, varsity volleyball’s primary competition in recent years has been Pace as the two teams have faced each other in the state championship for the past four years. This season that will all change as Pace moves down to 2A, and as with softball, the VolleyCats’ new rival will be GAC.  “Our big rival next year will most likely be GAC, who barely lost to Pace in the semifinals. They played well when we last competed against them, so they should be good competition for us next year,” said sophomore Kensington Zwerner. 

While there are many strong returners, the team is also losing many great players from the senior class, including their libero, Betsy Moore. They are also losing seniors Claire Zhou, Caroline Glahn, Claire Emch, and Grayson Bradley. Last year they had a large team of 15, but they are still looking for under-class students to fill the roles of the departing seniors. “We only have one returning passer, so we will need multiple new passers from the JV team or the rising freshman,” said Zwerner.