Winter Sports Recap

Winter Sports Recap
Boys Basketball
Boys Basketball

Sunnyslope Boys Basketball has once again found themselves at the top of the playoff bracket and winning. Winning a lot.
Finishing the regular season with a 14-4 record the Vikings are currently the number 3 seed in the open playoffs continuing an impressive streak of successful seasons.
Having made deep playoff runs the past few seasons the basketball team has created quite a bit of hype which Freshman Darius Wabbington said “it’s been everything I wanted it to be and expected it to be in a little bit more.”
Viking basketball runs deeper than just winning and has created bonds between the boys on the team.
“There’s a lot of teasing from the older guys but you know, they love you and it’s just a lot of friendships that you make,” said Wabbington.
The team is now on a playoff run that has placed them in the quarter finals of the open division playoffs which is not unfamiliar territory.
Sunnyslope has 2 championship appearances in the last 4 years with one of those resulting in a ring and it doesn’t seem like much is expected to change with Senior Jai Anthoni Bearden who said he “expects a ring out of them.”
Basketball may be one of the most successful sports here at Sunnyslope and a large reason for this is Head Coach Ray Portela.
“He’s helped me so much,” said Wabbington, “He’s unlocked a new level for me but also he’s one to joke with and one to have good times with; though, when you need to get business done, you get it done and then you have fun after.”
Sunnyslope basketball has driven this year by a litany of young talent including 2 freshman, 6 sophomores, and 2 juniors.
Youth definitely seems to be the difference maker this year as Bearden “the younger guys having to step up” was important.
The Vikings will face Millennium on Friday February 23rd as they look to make a repeat appearance in the Open Championship; however, there are no plans to stop there.
“I see us going back to back to back,” Wabbington said, “We have a really solid group that can keep growing with each other.”
With only 3 more games left in the season the Vikings are sure to play their best basketball of the year.

Girls Basketball
Girls Basketball

2024 has been a year of revival for Sunnyslope’s winter sports and the girls basketball team is no exception.
Ranked at #23 in the open state tournament the girls team has had their most successful season in years led by new Head Coach Kristen Clyder.
“I think we just have built on the past years and grown together as a unit,” said Senior Jessa Jacobs, “ We’re more cohesive.”
The girls team has reached new levels of success for Sunnyslope, and, even if not every goal was met, history has definitely been made.
Jacobs said, “We had our eyes set on being region champs which we didn’t achieve, but we still have achieved more than in the past 20 years of our program.”
Luckily the team also had a large number of returners which helped solidify a corps of young talented players.
Senior Rayanna Hood said that she does believe having plenty of returners has been important, but that they also “have our freshmen that came in and they’re fast and really good.”
This year’s dominance lines up with the rise of Clyder who had previously served as a varsity assistant and head JV coach, but got the call this year to lead the Lady Vikings.
Hood said, “She knows what we need and what we don’t need. She keeps us in check and knows exactly what to tell us to keep us excited.”
Clyder has seemingly brought a new energy to the program and this has reflected on the court as well.
“I think we definitely took it more seriously,” said Hood, “It was an adjustment for not only us, but her as well.”
Despite this more intense change in outlook for the team; they definitely made sure to keep things loose and fun.
Hood said, “We all saw it more seriously, but she [Clyder] still kept a bright demeanor.”
Sunnyslope now is headed into the open playoffs for the first time and the girls couldn’t be more ready for the challenge.
So far the girls have advanced to the quarterfinals and Hood said the team did their best to keep their minds right and just kept practicing.
However the season ends this year still marks the end of several basketball careers, but going out on a high note is always good.
“I think it’s been really fun and it’s always fun to be successful and have a winning season, but it’s more fun to be part of a good team of good people who are together, and enjoy playing together,” said Jacobs.                                                                         Nevertheless the season is not over and the girls now have their eye on what might be their biggest achievement yet; an open Championship.

Boys Soccer
Boys Soccer

2018 was the last time the Sunnyslope boys soccer team won a playoff. That year was also the last time the team earned a playoff appearance. Same can be said for the last time the Vikings appeared in the Championship game.
But, after 6 long years, things have changed for the program as 2024 has seen the team not only make the playoffs again, but also win again. If this trend continues then Sunnyslope is in for a pleasant surprise.
“I would say being able to beat all of the teams that we lost to last year by 3 or 4 [goals],” said Senior Chase Udall, “We’ve been able to not only just beat them, but destroy them, which kind of shows a lot for our team and how good we are.”
Last year’s losses against Apollo, Highland, Pinnacle, Liberty, and Sandra Day O’Connor turned into wins or ties this season as 19 players returned this year adding a great level of experience.
“I think it’s the family aspect we have from how we played together last year,” said Sophomore Jake Keebler, “We’ve just been trudging through it, keeping our heads up, getting through the hard times with a lot of injuries we’ve overcome, but we still stick together and just play.”
Having 19 returners and 16 seniors certainly adds a rare level of experience to a program, but that is not the only unusual thing about Sunnyslope soccer.
All 3 levels of teams practice together daily, intermixing in drills and scrimmages and Keebler said he thinks “it helps each team grow individually and grow together,” plus for players that move up through the program he said, “They already have a feel for the other teams and how to play with other players.”
A unique culture results from having a high level of experienced mixed with essentially a 60 man team which may be another reason why the team finished #12 in 6A.
“This team is very united and is very strong together,” Senior Captain Benny Escobar said, “It’s really something great to be a part of.”
The culture that has been created here is also not short on leaders as Escobar is joined by Senior Captains Preston Kasovac, Dylan Cunanan, and Tyler Fusselman.
Escobar said, “Being a captain for the last two years has been a privilege and an honor to me, just to be the face of this team, along with other captains has been very important and I’m very happy to be part of it.”
12 other seniors joined those 4 in leading the team to a 9-4-2 record this season finishing the regular season on 4 game win streak.
“We grew just as a team, we got some new players, and so just learning to get to know them and being able to work together with them kind of kelps,” said Udall.
2024 has truly been an impressive year for the boys soccer team filled with impressive moments and heartwarming stories, but also with 16 senior leaders that means 16 boys leaving, too.
Udall said that playing with the same guys over the past 4 years has been nothing short of fun and Keebler, while only a sophomore, shares a similar sentiment and said, “We have a real life community built and we played together for many years having played club together and we’re like a family.”
All that’s left to accomplish now is to make a run into the playoffs and hopefully repeat what happened in 2018 except finish on top this time.



Girls Soccer
Girls Soccer

Girls Varsity soccer had a rocky season with only 3 wins.
However, they have been adjusting to losing 9 seniors, since “seniors leave and the team loses some chemistry” said Sophomore Layton Hunter.
This season, the team was comprised of 11 underclassmen, and they are working to bond with this new group of girls.
Senior Skye Goodman said, “I feel like this year was definitely a building year.”
While this season was not as successful as they hoped it would be, the future’s looking good.
“This team is really going to gel very well together in the next couple of years; they’re going to be a really strong team,” said Goodman.
Throughout the few months spent together, the girls have already begun to connect.
The team’s culture is “lightweight and fun and we can always just count on each other” said Freshman Lelia Cody.
Being able to rely on one another requires strong leaders.
Cody said, “Kat [Hartman] always kept us together and focused, Layton brought us together and always pushed us to keep trying our hardest.”
Having the support of teammates is incredibly important, but the coaches also have a large role in the team’s discipline.
Hunter said Coach James Bacon is “very dedicated. He works very hard for the team and I appreciate that.”
In years to come, these young girls will continue to work hard and we will see the results.
“I can’t wait to see where they go,” said Goodman.
The future is bright for the Girls Viking soccer team and they will doubtlessly get back on track in no time.

Boys Wrestling
Boys Wrestling

Consistency is a crucial part of an athlete’s repertoire, but when a program consistently has good athletes and success then that is also great, too.
Last year’s boys wrestling team sent 4 wrestlers to state; this year 3 are on their way to the big stage and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The team is hardworking and determined,” said senior Nathan Nelson, “We have a lot of people who are more than capable of qualifying for state.”
On top of the boys team sending 4 wrestlers to state this season saw 2 seniors – Malachi Aispuro and Cilus Cabral – win their 100th match.
“Having 2 solid wrestlers on our team is exciting and takes our program to another level within the wrestling room,” Senior Eric Cotto said, “but both wrestlers have humble beginnings.”
Success had come in numerous ways so far for the Vikings including triumphing in a tournament or two.
Senior Gavin Mitchell won the Vipers wrestling Tournament on January 12th and the team saw several winners at regionals, but Senior Coling Liftshitz said that the main goal of the team was to just get better.
Sunnyslope sports in 2024 has followed an interesting trend of boating unique cultures that lead to success and wrestling does not stray from the pack.
Nelson said that the amount of coaches that come and help the team has contributed to a distinctive culture because “they have separate skills that they can teach the wrestlers and they bring a different energy that a lot of coaches don’t.”
One of the coaches or course is Head Coach Tayt Tolman who has been instrumental in the development of both the wrestling culture and talent.
“Coach Tolman is a special individual,” said Cotto, “He’s smarter than the average bear and has the heart of a lion when it comes to his program and family.”
That family extends to every wrestler who makes the decision to try out and bear any harsh conditioning or hours long practice.
Cotto said, “He’s willing to better us, protect us, and toughen us up as any coach should. HE understands each and everyone one of our mistakes and allows us a safe space to work together and grow.”
Coming together and growing is important to a wrestling program too as it is as much a team sport as it is individual.
“As much as wrestling is individual, it takes a strong, committed team to better each other physically and mentally for our matches,” said Cotto.
Having experience on a team also will help to build strength and commitment and that is yet another thing that the Vikings had this year.
“I feel like there’s been a lot more [seniors] than previous years and it’s definitely made more camaraderie among the class of 2024 class,” said Liftshitz.
Now that class only has a few more fleeting moments left in their wrestling career but much to look back back on.
Nelson said that his favorite memory was the team road trip to California for a tournament, and he said, “It was fun going out there with all my teammates and just enjoying a few days off and just being away from home.”
With the state tournament ending February 17th the Vikings wrestlers can finally have a little rest … that is until next season.

Girls Wrestling
Girls Wrestling

This season, girls wrestling was unpredictable.
They lost several important seniors and teammates who had been state qualifiers.
However, the girls stepped up.
Senior Skye Goodman said, “we had a couple girls make it to state.”
These include Laney Crosby and Gianna McCrae.
”My teammate Laney made it to state this year and I know that’s a big goal she’s had for a very long time,” said Junior Joyce Robinson.
Crosby would not have been able to get this far without the support of her team.
Coach Tolman is ”always stressing the importance of being there for your team.. with an individual sport we need the support of others” said Senior Skye Goodman.
This is executed incredibly well throughout the program.
Goodman said, “they really welcomed me, even with it being my first year, they were still super open.”
Goodman is not the only one who joined wrestling this year, and it definitely had an impact on the team.
Robinson said, “this season was probably harder than any other because we have new girls.”
However, these young women are taught camaraderie even among competition.
“My favorite memory would be our lock in, it’s a time where we’re one huge family,” said Robinson.
Girls wrestling is a growing program at Slope without much recognition, even while reaching the state level.
Which the team saw this year as Crosby and McCrae both qualified for the state tournament.
Make sure to support your girls wrestling members and in the words of Robinson, “more girls should join.”

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Sam Porell, Sports Editor
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