White River faced down River Ridge last year

Handful of White River fall teams chasing state berths | 2016 Fall Sports Previews

The White River High boys golf program will soon be teeing off, looking to continue a most impressive run of success.

The White River High boys golf program will soon be teeing off, looking to continue a most impressive run of success.

The squad is sparked by junior Cooper Franklin, the top player from last year’s squad who was a first team All-SPSL 2A performer. Also back is sophomore Joe Flanigan, who picked up second-team honors a season ago.

Franklin qualified for last year’s state tournament as the league’s No. 1 seed while Flanigan went to state as the No. 4 seed.

“We have high hopes of these two athletes leading our Hornets this year,” coach Terry Vallala wrote in an email.

Vallala also is heartened by a promising supporting case that includes Blake Coogan, a member of last season’s varsity team and a second-team all-league performer. As of now, the varsity top six also includes Drew Thompson, a junior varsity member last year, and newcomers Beau Coogan, a junior, and Tanner Penrose, a freshman.

The junior varsity includes senior Jonus Clapshaw; juniors Cole Richey and Justin Smith; sophomores Erik Schultz, Dalton Hubbard, Mavrik Mills and Brock Keller; and freshmen Adam Wakefield and Dane Stoeck.

The Hornet boys are coming off a season in which they went 13-1 in SPSL 2A play, tying Fife for the league’s best record. A new league alignment shapes up to be plenty competitive, Vallala said.

“We need to play with a lot of heart and make good decisions on every shot,” he said.

Girls Golf

The Hornet girls will look to repeat the successes of a season ago, but will launch the defense of their league championship with a new coach.

Anna Rose has replaced Todd Miller at the helm, taking over a program that has gone undefeated in league play the past two years. It’s a team that was hit hard by graduation, however, as three first-team all-league players departed the Hornet ranks.

But the cupboard is far from bare. A quality starting point comes in the form of the Lavinder sisters, both sophomores: Georgia is a returning all-league first team selection and Sophia earned second-team honors a hear ago. Additionally, both represented the Hornets program at last year’s Class 2A state tournament.

Volleyball

Graduation took a heavy toll on the White River volleyball program, but a healthy handful of talent returns from 2015’s successful squad.

And expectations are high, according to coach Lina Randall.

Last year’s club advanced to the Class 2A state tournament and “we are looking to repeat those same successes this season, plus more,” Randall wrote in an email.

She said the theme for this season is to “Change your Story,” a reference to accomplishing even bigger and better things.

“We want to bring home a banner from the state tourney, we want to place,” she wrote. “Our story has been, ‘we get there, but we don’t bring home the banner.’ We are looking to change that story this season.”

Among those gone from the Hornet ranks are last year’s league MVP, Mahealani Stone, along with a trio of first-team all-league performers.

But Randall – the reigning SPSL 2A coach of the year – welcomes back three honored players. Kendall Bird, a senior opposite/middle hitter, and juniors Keegan Strobeck, middle hitter, and Megan Vendegrift, libero, were all-league second-team selections last year. The trio share team captain honors this time around.

“Kendall is playing better than I have ever seen her play,” Randall said. “She is healthy and killing the ball.” Strobeck, the coach said, “is very consistent and passionate about the sport…an all-around strong player for us. Randall terms Vandegrift “a tremendous athlete who is very quick and has the mental toughness necessary to play amazing defense.”

Also back from last year’s varsity team is Hope Baldyga and four new athletes have made the varsity list: Noelle Mills, Hannah Nelson, Hannah Alfano and Kelsey Bunker.

That’s a small group, Randall admits, but “Our girls are working hard and we are excited to see how that hard work pays off.”

A season ago, the Hornets compiled a final record of 19-3 that included both league and district championships on the way to the state tourney.

Soccer

There’s plenty of reason for optimism as the White River High girls soccer program kicks off another season.

Namely, there’s deep talent pool for reining SPSL 2A coach of the year Charlie Carlier to call upon. League MVP Mack Breeden was lost to graduation, but this year’s roster includes returning all-league first teamers Annabelle Hall, Ariel Saylor and Ally Glebe, all juniors; also back are returning second-team picks Grace Clapshaw, a senior, and juniors Haylee Gunter and Shelby Stoeck.

Those six were part of last year’s squad that rolled to a perfect 14-0 record in league play a year ago, capturing the SPSL 2A championship.

Boys Cross Country

Veteran coach Dameon Marlow, now in his 12th season at the Hornet helm, heads into the season with an experienced group leading the pack.

Among those returning for another year of 3.1-mile challenges are seniors Jadon Flanders, AJ Aspelund and Stephen Woods. All three ran in the Class 2A state meet a season ago; alternates for that state team – and turning out again this season – are sophomore Joel Slominsky and senior Caleb Cochran.

Following two weeks of turnouts, Marlow was still sorting out a varsity seven; the process, he said, might not be complete until the first meet of the season, the Sept. 10 Capital Invitational.

Girls Cross Country

Coach Dameon Marlow has his top runners from a season ago – junior Camryn Berryhill and senior Courtney Gelmini – back for another tour of duty. A year ago, they were the team’s top two finishers at the state Class 2A meet and both were first team, all-SPSL 2A selections.

The varsity roster is well stocked, as Marlow lost just one runner from last year’s varsity squad that advanced to state. Maddie Moser departed due to graduation.

Aside from Berryhill and Gelmini, Marlow has welcomed back senior Erin Redford and juniors Natalie Franco, Hannah Swettanam and Claire Lowe.

Boys Tennis

Coach Brandon Walker has some big holes to fill as his Hornet tennis crew heads into the fall season.

The biggest losses were at the top of the roster, due to the departure of Hayden Grimm and Cedric Pearson. Both were all-league first team selections and were part of a graduating class that took nine players from Walker’s roster.

So it’s a young group that Walker has welcomed this fall and it’s a large squad.

“We have the highest turnout in the five years since I have been coaching at White River,” Walker said. “It is an exciting group of young athletes who are working really hard and want to compete.”

Leading the way is junior Kaden Phillips, the lone returnee with varsity experience; he took third during last year’s league tournament and advanced to the district tourney in singles competition.

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