With the spring sports season wrapped up, high school athletes are now participating in volleyball, co-ed soccer and cross-country, which are traditionally played in the fall.
Many of the students have been practicing since last summer.
“This group of girls and coaches have been putting time in since July 2020 and have successfully trained and practiced while following all the guidelines and safety protocols during this pandemic, without the reward of a game yet,” said head coach Rachel Wilson. “To be able to put everything we have worked on together is an extremely exciting thing to do as we have entered into the different phases. These girls have held onto that glimmer of hope to be able to compete and perform together in a game they have sacrificed for and love. To be able to say that we get to do that for the first time in over a year is an overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude for holding onto that hope with and for each other.”
The team includes seniors Alanna Lago, Darian Johnson, Lindsey Simpson and Anwyn Thompson; juniors Tayla Malo and Alecia Talbot; sophomores Shaye Spinner and freshmen Bethany Carter, Sera Knapp, August Moore, Malia Martinolich, Milana Schneider, Valeria Rosales and Kyrah Oneil. Eighth graders Ava Ashcraft, Molina Stone, Elizabeth Ockerman, Morgan Anderson, Lil Malo and Star Sanders will practice with the team but not compete.
“As young women and a team, they have clung to each other for support, motivation, encouragement, discipline and commitment,” Wilson said. “They come into the gym ready to work hard, get better and enjoy the process.”
She is leading the team with help from assistant coach Kim Malo and volunteers Janna Carter and Hank Date. Wilson says the Vikings’ foundation lies with the returning seniors, including middle blocker Simpson.
“Our system will rely on Simpson’s maturity and ability to lead the court with junior setter, Tayla Malo,” Wilson said. “Alongside Simpson and Malo, we will rely on Alanna Lago’s voice and energy in the games to help guide the younger players. Darian Johnson brings consistency with her passing and hitting for us to be able to run our quicker offense. Thompson, new to the team, is not new to the sport. As a senior, she brings hype and ‘go-getter’ attitude that pushes those around her to give more and to become better.”
For the first time in a decade, the soccer team is a mix of male and female students. Vikings soccer is lead by head coach Terry Turner with assistant coaches Sid Hayworth and Baturay Balic. The players include seniors August Groeninger, Douglas Ha, Tomas Holmes, Ryan Schneider, Leonai Van Putten, and Andrew Garcia; juniors William Garcia, Cadence Kraayeveld and Kaj Litch; sophomores Tommy Anderson-Cleveland, Pedro Banderas, Orion Garcia, Celia Groeninger, Diego Lago, Avery Solesbee; and Paxton White and freshmen Jefferson Freeman, Andrew Garcia, Moose Kinsey, Ethan Moss, Isaac Moss and Sam Sutton. The Vikings began practicing last fall.
“Unfortunately, the women did not have the numbers to field a team this season, but we are happy to return to an old Orcas tradition of playing a co-ed lineup in an otherwise mostly male league,” said Turner. “Both Celia Groeninger and Avery Solesbee are really stepping up and doing a great job in the Orcas HS Soccer fashion.”
He says one of the team’s strengths is that “everyone knows their role in our system of play, and we play an advanced formation based on the tactics of quick passing, ball possession and the vision to switch the play from side to side over the entire field of play.” Turner notes, however, that the students’ greatest asset is their character and work ethic.
“The older players have played and worked hard towards their goals for several years, and they have trained hard even through the many obstacles and difficulties of the past year,” he said. “All of the players have pride in winning our league and making it to the state playoffs every year of their high school careers. I also could not ask for any better coaching staff than Sidney Hayworth and Baturay Balic. They are exceptional.”
This year’s cross-country team, which continues to grow in size, will be coached by Mike Kulper. The students’ first meet of the season is on April 15 against Coupeville and Mount Vernon Christian at Fort Casey. This year’s athletes are Justin Derr, Ryan Derr, Bella Evans, Sofia Fleming, Quinn Fleming, Izie Janecek, Hunter Knapp, Evan Kulper, Finn Ontjes-Degroot, Will Stephens, Nisha Woolworth and Theo Vacarella. Kulper is pleased to have four girls on the team as last year’s program had only male students.
“We haven’t really had much time to ‘get up to speed’ for our first league meet,” said Kulper. “So, the emphasis is on participation rather than competition. In the short time, we’ve had, the runners have been putting in a good effort in practices. I’m actually excited that we even have any kind of season this year!”
by Portia White
Orcas High School senior
Viking Soccer finished their first week of the 2021 season. They started their season off at Mount Vernon Christian on April 7. The game started off slow with the game being tied 0-0 at half, but Orcas picked it up in the second half with the first goal of the season being scored by William Garcia, followed by a goal by August Groeninger, and finishing with a header by Tommy Anderson-Cleveland. The Vikings then took on Concrete, at home, on April 10.
This week, the Vikings will be at home on April 13 to face Coupeville and will be on the road April 16, to face Friday Harbor.
The Lady Vikings started off their 2021 volleyball season on the road at La Conner on April 8. Orcas rallied, but were unable to claim the victory in a 0-3 loss. The same week, Orcas volleyball hosted Concrete on April 10.