The Orion

Headlines to look for in 2016 fall sports

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Junior Isaiah Dargan boots the ball on the fly in a game last fall. Photo credit: Ryan Pressey

Junior Isaiah Dargan boots the ball on the fly in a game last fall. Photo credit: Ryan Pressey

Junior Isaiah Dargan boots the ball on the fly in a game last fall. Photo credit: Ryan Pressey

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As the semester winds down, soccer, volleyball, golf and cross-country fans are mounting up to watch their favorite Chico State sports in action. Here’s a few headlines to look out for when August rolls around.

Freshmen fill the gaps

After the 2015 season the Chico State women’s soccer team experienced, it should come as no surprise that they would be out for revenge. The team had a season record of 12-5-2 and had its season ended by being eliminated by Cal State Stanislaus in the CCAA Championship Tournament Semifinals, a team they had previously beat 2-1.

The team of 33 will say goodbye to four of its seniors, including two defenders, a midfielder and a forward. Nicole Roberts, the captain, and Cassi Scroggins, the co-captain, will both be leaving the team and will require someone to fill the leadership position on the team.

Despite its losses, the team will retain key sophomore forward Pooja Patel who led the team in points with 26 last season, as well as junior midfielder Lindsay Dias who scored 25. Starting goalkeeper Mackenzie Boulton had 72 saves last season and will be returning as a sophomore.

The team also has 16 soon-to-be sophomores to fill in the gaps who will be looking to get more playing time as spots open up in the lineup.

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Sophomore Pooja Patel controls the ball during a practice last semester. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

 

The men’s team seemed to heat up at the wrong time by starting out their season with two consecutive losses and ending the last five games of the season with three wins and two ties. The team closed out its season with a 7-6-4 record but look phenomenal going into the next season.

The team will be losing five players from a team of 33 and will need to find two new forwards, two defenders and one midfielder. While this seems intimidating for the team, 11 members were first-years which means there are several players who are hungry for play time.

Junior forward Omar Nuno, the leader in scoring, will be returning as a senior, and goalkeeper Andrew Matthews who boasts 42 saves and two shutouts, will be a sophomore in the upcoming season.

If both teams utilize the surplus of first-years to fill the gaps as well as their key returning players, then the ‘Cats should find great success in the upcoming season.

Cross-country collects its crown

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Men’s cross-country runner Will Reyes is one of the top runners in the nation and will represent the ‘Cats at nationals. Photo courtesy of Gary Towne.

 

With just one person leaving from the men’s team and four for the women’s, cross-country is expected to succeed once again in the upcoming year.

The men’s team consists of 15 underclassmen and is topped by the women’s team with 19. The fairly young runners will have a year of experience to bring to the table and will be led by key returners for both teams.

The men’s team placed sixth at the NCAA Division II Cross-Country Championship, but had a strong showing throughout the year as it won first in the Stanford Invitational, San Francisco Invitational and CCAA Championships.

It wasn’t a surprise to see junior Will Reyes at the front of the race as he seemed to be the X-factor for the ‘Cats after redshirting the previous year. Reyes placed 10th in the NCAA Division II Championships and has improved his speed by dominating Chico State track and field.

Sophomore Kyle Medina and junior Steven Martinez are also runners who led Chico to championships, as both were often in the top 20. Martinez took 17th in the NCAA Division II Championships, and Medina placed 34th.

With a significant amount of returners gearing up for the next season, the men’s team is certain to repeat the performance it’s grown accustomed to.

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Junior Sadie Gastelum trains for the upcoming track and field season. Photo credit: The Orion

 

The women’s team placed fourth in the NCAA Division II Championship, led by junior Sadie Gastelum who placed 12th. Chico State will retain four of the seven runners they had in the race, three of which broke the top 50.

Junior McCall Habermehl and Gastelum were in a race of their own as both left their competition in the dust, respectively placing first and second in the CCAA Championship.

With all the tools for success at their disposal, it’s safe to say that cross-country will once again be a top contender at the national level.

Golf to birdie or bogey

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The Chico State men’s golf team celebrates its NCAA West Regional title. Photo credit: Chico Wildcats

 

It wasn’t a surprise to see Chico State men’s golf rank top in the nation as they dominated in the CCAA and NCAA Division II tournaments. The team led by seniors Lee Gearhart and Alistair Docherty showed promise from the start after winning the NCAA Division II National Preview.

Men’s golf is going to take a dramatic loss in losing three seniors, including the team’s top performers. All three cracked the top 25 to give Chico State the win at the NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament earlier this month.

Still, not all is lost as first-years Matt Hutchins and Kelly Sullivan will be part of the remaining nine. Both players were consistently in the top five golfers and have a great feel for tournaments after playing for the team.

While the team still consists of nine players, seven are currently underclassmen, and they still lack someone to fill the leadership position. Men’s golf has the chance to repeat its success or end up one stroke behind the competition.

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Chico State women’s golf team finished fifth in San Antonio on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Photo credit: Nick Green

 

Women’s golf has four returners. Seniors Bianca Armanini and Dani O’Keefe led the way to a win at the Sonoma State Invitational with Armanini in first and O’Keefe in third.

The team will keep first-year Emily Rotter, who was a star on the course and tied with O’Keefe for third in the Sonoma Invitational. The ‘Cats also have hope in the two upperclassmen returners, juniors Abbey McGrew and Sydney Zink.

Women’s golf has always had a smaller team, but with just four returners they may find difficulty finding a key fifth member for tournament competition. With both teams experiencing serious losses in leadership and talent, they’ll have to rely on the new star players to fill the leadership positions and improve on their game.

Volleyball set for CCAA Championship

The volleyball team earned eight wins in a row to start off its season, and the dynamic duo of juniors Olivia Mediano and Torey Thompson seemed unstoppable. Then the team had its fall from grace as it lost its top seed position following six consecutive losses and a loss in its last game.

The season finally ended with a 3-0 defeat to Sonoma State in the first round of the CCAA Championship Tournament and a final 10-game record of 2-8.

The team will lose two seniors in the next year, Shannon Boiling and Hannah Wilkins. Boiling was one of the top performers for the ‘Cats in kills and points, with 234 and 260 respectively. Wilkins also played an important role with 143 kills and 169.5 points for Chico State.

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Junior Ashton Kershner attempts to tip the ball over the defenders for a kill. Photo credit: Ryan Pressey

 

Despite the downward spiral of last season and losing two important contributors, the ‘Cats have a great chance of being successful. The team consisted of 11 underclassmen last year with a majority of them first-years.

Part of the downfall of the season may be because of a lack of experience among the team. With more players having experienced tournament play and ready to grind out the season, the ‘Cats can prevent themselves from faltering.

The team also has their kill and assist leaders returning to take over the leadership position. With a more seasoned team and strong leadership already in place, Chico State is en route to improve upon its previous season.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @KentaMcAfee on Twitter.

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Headlines to look for in 2016 fall sports