Menlo News January 05, 2024

Fall sports in review 2023

A look back at cross country, flag football, football, golf, tennis, volleyball, water polo

Fall was a season of firsts, and the Menlo School fall athletics campaign launched the school year with thrills from start to finish. The Knights welcomed a wildly popular newly CIF-sanctioned sport, a trip to a longtime sport’s first state championship, along with a NorCal title, CCS championship and three teams earning league crowns.

Fifty one students received all-league recognition as voted on by the league’s coaches, but along with personal growth, the athletes showed development together as one team.

Two of Menlo’s fall teams - football and girls’ water polo - were named CCS Scholastic teams, finishing in the top-five highest collective grade-point average among the section’s teams in their respective sports.

(Note: Only cross country and water polo select all-CCS teams. There was no league for flag football this season.)



The Menlo cross country teams raced in the CCS Championships, and came away with a team state bid, and an individual CCS champion. Sophomore Ariya Kaushek won the Div. V girls’ race for a section title and the Knights boys’ team took silver at CCS before advancing to state where Menlo raced to an impressive fourth-place finish among 24 qualifying teams in a competitive Div. V field.

All-WBAL girls

MVP: Ariya Kaushek.
First team: Veronica Taira. Honorable mention: Marissa Louie.

All-WBAL boys

First team: Henry Hauser, Will Hauser, Jared Saal.
Second team: Jonah Block, Amay Srinivasan, James Yue.
Honorable mention: Tristan Chen, Landon Pretre, Max Talwar.


Third team: Landon Pretre



In its inaugural season statewide, the Knights made a sudden impact, bouncing back from a narrow loss in the opener to 15 consecutive victories against teams from all over the Bay Area.

The team, coached by former NFL quarterbacks John Paye ’83 and Hall of Famer Steve Young, along with Assistant Athletic Director Buffie Ward Williams ’89, Middle School Athletic Director Joe MacDonald and David Trujillo, fielded two squads in its first season since the California Interscholastic Federation approved the sport last February. 



Menlo football hit the ground running with nine consecutive victories to start the season en route to a perfect 5-0 record and Peninsula Athletic League-Bay Championship. After orchestrating a come-from-behind CCS quarterfinals victory, the Knights fell in a close loss and finished their impressive season with a 10-2 overall mark. Menlo earned a CCS Scholastic Team Award, finishing top five highest collective GPA among football teams in the section.



Player of the Year-Offense: Mikey McGrath
Offensive Lineman of the Year: Parker Ashton
Defensive Back of the Year: Harry Housser
Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year: Bradford Tudor
Co-Linebacker of the Year: Palmer Riley
Coach of the Year: Todd Smith

First team: Jamie Forese, Andre Gonzalez Lombera, Willis Johnson, Brady Jung, Nicky Scacco.

Second team: Jack Enright, Kyle Mahaffey, David Mhatre.


The Knights wrapped up a 12-4 record after their regular-season finale, and took third among nine teams in the WBAL Championship. Menlo was again on the cusp of advancing to section as a team, and two advanced. Menlo has sent individual players to the Central Coast Section Championship every season for more than a decade.



First team: Hailey Kim, Joelle Kim
Honorable mention: Chloe Lee



Writing its own chapter in Menlo School history, the girls’ tennis team advanced to the first-ever state championship before falling to Mater Dei. The NorCal and Central Coast Section champion Knights finished the season 25-7 despite its youth. It also marked the final match with the girls’ team for Bill Shine, who will coach the boys’ team in spring, and after 29 seasons, plans to retire.

Even though Menlo fell in the state championship, the Knights could look back on their season with great pride in that they reached the ultimate match.

“It really was a perfect season to me,” said junior Izzy Klugman, who captains the team with Andra Braicu, Elise Chen and Kate Hsia. “I saw so much improvement in everyone on the team, and the team environment became so much closer. This match was really the product of our hard work over these past almost four months, and that match will be something I will remember for the rest of my life.



First team: Andra Braicu, Elise Chen, Kate Hsia, Emily Li
Second team: Sophia Jia, Izzy Klugman
Honorable mention: Sulia Gayle



The Menlo volleyball team went 7-1 in league play to capture a WBAL Championship and the Knights advanced to the top-level CCS Open Division for the fourth time in five seasons. Menlo won three matches to land in the Chris Chandler Invitational final. Similarly, the Knights went 3-1 to finish runner-up in the Harbor Invitational, and traveled to a Huntington Beach tournament to play some of the top teams in Southern California.



MVP: Lily Kautai
First team: Cleo Hardin, Ava Wang
Second team: Bella Chen, Lily Hinshaw



The Knights opened the season with their annual SEAL team training in San Diego and in keeping with another tradition: landed a bid to the top-tier CCS Open Division. Menlo went 3-4 in the West Catholic Athletic League. Since the inception of the CCS Open Division in 2017, only five teams have qualified for the top division every year: Menlo, Sacred Heart Prep, Bellarmine, St. Francis, and Valley Christian.


First team: Teddy Meeks
Second team: Jackson Coleman, Cormac Mulloy
Honorable mention: Nic Ekstrand


First team: Cormac Mulloy
Second team: Teddy Meeks
Third team: Jackson Coleman
Honorable mention: Nic Ekstrand, Alex Stoffel



Menlo girls’ water polo went 4-2, along with two other teams for the second-best mark in the highly competitive West Catholic Athletic League. The Knights won three consecutive games to advance to the championship of their own Amanda MacDonald Invitational. The Knights earned a CCS Scholastic Team Award, finishing top five highest collective GPA among girls’ water polo teams in the section.


First team: Kenya Cassidy, Scarlett Gamble
Second team: Sofia Flierl, Sabina Sutaria
Honorable mention: Kate Hirsch


First team: Scarlett Gamble
Second team: Kenya Cassidy
Third team: Sofia Flierl
Honorable mention: Sophia Maldonado, Sabina Sutaria