Here's what to expect from Orion high school sports teams this fall

Mindy Carls
For the Geneseo Republic
Orion won the Bushnell-Prairie tournament on Saturday, Aug. 20, at Shaw Creek Golf Course, Bushnell. From left are Rylin Smith, Jennie Abbot, Emily Olson, Kamryn Filler, Sofia Fernandez, Eleanor Wilbur and Sadie Hessler. Olson placed fifth and Fernandez first.

Orion's varsity cross country, golf, soccer and volleyball teams are plunging into the fall 2022 season. We asked each coach to preview the season.

Cross country

Last year's highlight was Orion sophomore Olivia Thomsen running at the Class 1A state meet in Detweiller Park, Peoria.

"We have a small but driven team this year," Matson said. "Olivia will lead the girls side with a hopeful return to Peoria.

Eric Thorndyke is the only male runner. He is hoping to improve and advance in the postseason."

In the Three Rivers Conference, Sherrard and Erie-Prophetstown will be good, the coach said. "We are hoping for a couple of All-Conference individuals."

Boys golf

In 2021, Orion’s Vaughn Bernhardt was two strokes shy of making the cut at the end of the first day of the state golf tournament at the Prairie Vista course in Bloomington. Bernhardt is now playing at Illinois College.

Led by Bernhardt and Cameron Rascher, who were sectional qualifiers, Orion placed fourth in the Galva regional at Midland Golf Course. The team was 6-13 in duals during the regular season.

"Our team should be mid pack of the conference this year," coach Jeff Bernhardt said. "We have some experience returning with Cameron Rascher leading the team in hopes to make the leap from sectionals to state.

"We have two players, Micah Knox and Ian Bollinger, who have put a lot of work in the offseason that will be vital to our success this season as a team," the coach said.

Sherrard and Riverdale, along with Princeton and Hall, will be the top teams in the Three Rivers Conference, Bernhardt said.

"Our season will come down to consistent play of our returning players and how fast our newcomers, Ethan Wardlow and Aidan Moody, find consistent play in their game," the coach said.

Girls golf

Coach Brandi Comer, who is leading a high school sport for the first time, is hoping to imbue the seven girls on the team with love for her favorite sport.

She is looking forward to a great season. The Chargers won the Bushnell-Prairie City Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 20, at Shaw Creek, Bushnell.

Senior Sofia Fernandez and junior Emily Olson could go far, Comer predicted. They should excel in the conference tournament, the coach said. She hopes they will go past regionals.

The 2021 regional team included Fernandez, Olson, Kaitlyn Wilburn and Eleanor Wilbur. Fernandez advanced from regionals to sectionals.

Comer is anxious to see how the girls who have never played before will do. A couple of girls who are very athletic are picking up the game.

On the team are seniors Jennie Abbott, Hernandez and Rylin Smith; juniors Kamryn Filler, Olson and Wilbur, and freshman Sadie Hessler.

Comer is hoping to encourage more girls to go out for the sport.

Soccer

Last fall's Orion-Sherrard United team finished 14-10-1.

"We'll be starting 11 talented seniors this season and are excited to see how things click out on the pitch. We're looking forward to a fun and successful season," said coach Rick Cline, owner of a 195-133-30 record over 17 seasons.

Returning starters are senior defenders Trey Erdmann, Alex Syslo, Caden Wegerer and Mike Diehl; senior forwards Alyus Johnson and Cole Kimball, and senior midfielders Peyton Maynard, Luke Moen and Kian DeLoose.

Impact newcomers are senior Bob Johnson, goalkeeper, and senior Talen Butler, midfielder.

"Can we reach our potential, improve our mental toughness and play consistently well?" Cline asked. "I think we have the ability and potential to produce a very successful, potentially historic season."

Volleyball

In her second season last year, coach Sydney Adams led the Chargers to a 15-19-1 record and a berth in the Prophetstown regional finals. The girls were 4-8 in the Three Rivers Conference and finished fourth.

"Although we are young, we have a lot of varsity experience," coach Sydney Adams said. "We should be competitive this year within our conference and Big 6 schools."

Looking at the Three Rivers Conference, Adams said, "Erie-Prophetstown and Sherrard should be good competition for us. We should be able to compete and finish in a higher place than the years past."

Adams is excited about the season overall.

"There is a lot of talent and the girls are putting in the work to be successful," she said.