The Bulldog Update

Photo by Chaney Wynne
Freshman Joey Emerson

Tennis squad steps up its game

Freshmen talent, summer preparation and a desire to improve add up to a state playoff caliber team. That’s what sophomore standout Joey Emerson believes. “We only lost two seniors. We have a bunch of new freshman who are eager to play,” he said. “We also have a lot of people who played throughout the summer.”

One of those players is senior Austin Bass, who is nationally ranked. “Everyone expects Austin to win. He doesn’t disappoint either,” Emerson said.

This offseason commitment contributed to the team’s 2-1 record at this point in the year. Senior Kath

erine Richter agrees with Emerson. “We had many more people try out than we’ve ever had. People are really motivated this year,” she said.

Richter said that in order for the team to win this year they need to “work on and refine skills every practice.” Emerson is confident the team will make the playoffs because the region has a few “beginner teams.”

Baseball team off to hot start

“It’s awesome,” junior center fielder Josh Suson-Mrak said, referring to fan turnouts at the baseball games now. “This is the most people I’ve seen come to our games and its not just one game. It’s every game.”

Photo by Emmie Poth-Nebel
Junior Ben Thilo

For a team getting off to one of its best starts in years, that’s not very surprising.  The bulldogs are 5-2 and have already taken down big schools like Tucker, Martin Luther King and Lakeside in dominant fashion.

Suson-Mrak said the team entered this season confident because of their record last year. He also said they’ve learned to play for one another. “When we played Tucker, our pitcher Holden Galatas got off to a rough start. We backed him up and put nine runs on the board. It was a big victory because Holden went there his freshman and sophomore year,” Susan-Mrak said.

Strong upperclassmen lead the team, but freshmen and sophomores still contribute. Freshman Jarret Ford hit an in-the-park grand slam earlier this season. Sophomore Keenan Howard transferred from Arabia Mountain and also gets playing time. “I just want to help make my teammates better by pushing them in practice,” Howard said.

Susan-Mrak is hopeful for this season. “I really believe we can do it this year,” he said.

Lady bulldogs ready for another deep run

The girls soccer team shocked the entire state last year when they made a deep run to the final four in the state playoffs. With some new talent and experienced upperclassmen, they look to return and go even further this year.

Photo by Emmie Poth-Nebel
From left: junior Caroline Bailey, senior Audrey Maloof

Audrey Maloof, who signed to play for Huntingdon College next year, said last year’s success was a valuable experience. “It definitely boosted the confidence of our program as a whole,” she said. “Last year has raised expectations for this season.”

Maloof said everybody will have to step up this year. The team went from 10 seniors last year to 11 freshman this year.  One who will play a key role is freshman striker Sarah Grace Tatum.  “I know Coach Gathany expects a lot from us despite being a young team… I am extremely excited because this is my freshman year and I know we’re going to go deep in those playoffs,” Tatum said.

Tatum already has four goals this season. The team is currently 3-2 with huge wins over Washington and Therrell.

“We have to continue to hold ourselves to a certain standard no matter who we play. We have to take advantage when we play less competitive teams so we can be prepared against better opponents like Westminster and Blessed Trinity,” Maloof said.

Boys soccer eager to surprise this season

After what players called a “disappointing” 2013-2014 season, the boys soccer team is ready to turn it around this year. Senior striker Luke Jackson said last year’s poor showing motivates the team. “We lost a lot and it made us mad,” he said. “Now we’re ready to turn up this year.”

Photo courtesy of India Sayers
Junior Art Enloe

That is exactly what the team is doing, getting off to a hot start with a record of 4-1-1.  Jackson leads the team in scoring with nine goals so far. Junior Tuck Rodi also helps out the team as center midfielder.

Rodi recently moved back to Decatur from California. He plays a significant role after his return to the team. “I really like our team this year,” he said. “I played with most of them before I moved and it feels really good to be back.”

The team has improved keeping possessions this year and its defense has stepped up significantly. They are filled with talent from every grade. They hope this depth will help them maintain their winning ways this season and for the future.

Laxdogs hunt for state trophy

Some might refer to Decatur’s boys lacrosse team as a dynasty. The teams are competitive every season and run one of the top programs in the state. Nothing is different this year. The same goal remains: win a state championship.

Photo by Ellie Ritter
Junior Mathew Tatum

The team has a strong core of seniors, including Sam Berg, Nate Scully and Lang Rodgers. Scully and Rodgers committed to play for Colorado Mesa next year. This year, Rodgers is extra motivated from what took place last season. “We have lots to prove since we lost in the state quarterfinals last year,” Rodgers said. “That was the earliest I’ve ever lost in the playoffs.”

Rodgers said in order for them to have success like they’ve had in previous years they need to “execute game plan and work hard in the weightroom.”

They also added new talent to their already talented roster. Junior Patrick Forsyth is a new student from Athens Drive High School, a powerhouse in North Carolina. Patrick said he wants to do two things: “Replace the attack men who graduated last year and bring home a state ring,” he said

With Decatur moving to a new region, that brings new opponents. One of these teams is Westminster, a team that has eliminated Decatur from the playoffs before. The bulldogs aren’t worried. They’re currently 2-1 and have a long season ahead of them to prepare. “If we just stick to what we are taught, we can make a big run,” Rodgers said.

Girls lax team bouncing back and improving

Photo by Ellie Ritter
Senior Vega Walke

Sometimes a slow start is the best thing for a team. Lessons are learned from close lost games. The girls lax squad is currently 1-2, but the team isn’t deterred and believes they are just beginning to play their best. “We have already started to stop forcing passes or shots that aren’t there,” standout freshman Clara McKay said. “We have also been working on passing for transitions as well as improving our defense.”

Their first win came against the skilled Greater Atlanta Christian team. Senior Vega Walke had a huge role in the victory. She is returning to the team for her senior year after sitting for two years. Walke said the team is doing well after losing so many seniors last year. “I think as the season progresses we will continue to come together,” Walke said.

The team feels like they have strong midfield play and enough young talent to make a run in the state playoffs. “[During] our first three games we have strengthened our defense and hopefully in future games we can settle our attack,” Walke said. “I can think we can make it if we can continue to do those things consistently.”

Track and field fight for spot in state meet

This season track and field program almost didn’t exist. After 25-year coach Freddie Jones retired earlier this year, the scramble to find a new coach began. Sophomore standout Colby Clark said everyone was doubtful at first. “With the track season quickly approaching, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said.

Photo by Emmie Poth-Nebel
Senior Onyx Simpson

Kenneth Whetstone, a P.E. teacher at Arabia High School, is the new head coach. The team is getting used to their new coach now. “He’s really cool and pushes us hard,” junior Dajah Thomas said.

This is Thomas’ first year back after taking a break last year. She participates in field events and has one of the fastest 100 meter times on the team. She played a significant role in the girls team placing second overall at Lovejoy’s meet. Thomas said everybody was preparing and getting better in the offseason.

“Some practice outside of the team on their own. I know Gloria Clark, Onyx Simpson and Colby Clark all run for AAU teams,” she said.

Sophomore Sam Ellis agrees that people on the team have improved “exponentially.” Last year Ellis placed third in the state for his 800 time. “We’ve just been adjusting to the new coach and getting better everyday,” he said.

The team hopes to get more participants for its field events so they can qualify for state as well. Although their region is very competitive with schools including Cedar Grove and Maynard Jackson, with seven more meets remaining in the season the bulldogs believe they can make a dash for the state meet.