By Megan Kelley
LAKE ORION — During its meeting on Jan. 10, the Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education received its first sports season update and recap of the 2023-24 school year from the district’s Athletic Director Chris Bell.
Bell regularly attends board meetings to provide the board with a season update once each season has officially ended to highlight the achievements of the sports teams and athletes from the fall, winter and spring athletic seasons.
With the winter sports season in full swing, Bell presented a review of the district’s fall sports teams.
In the fall, LOCS had 994 student athletes across the 24 high school teams which included varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams, as well as 12 middle school teams.
During the season, Lake Orion hosted a number of events including the Oakland County girls swim and dive championship, the Oakland County girls golf championship, the OAA Red girls swim and dive championship, the MHSAA volleyball district tournament and two rounds of the MHSAA football playoffs.
“Both programs are young, rebuilding and doing a phenomenal job,” Bell said.
For the girls team, there were 40 runners. The team finished fourth out of six in the OAA Red.
Individually, senior Hannah DeRoeck and freshman Linda Lopez both earned All-League honors with DeRoeck finishing fourth in the OAA Red championship and Lopez finishing sixth. Both also qualified for the MHSAA state finals.
The boys team had 33 runners and also finished fourth out of six in the OAA Red.
Junior Blake Peardon and sophomore Max Houvener both earned All-League honors with Peardon finishing seventh in the OAA Red championship and Houvener taking 18th.
Peardon also qualified for the MHSAA state finals.
LOHS had 21 golfers this year with the team finishing fourth in the OAA and second in the MHSAA regional tournament to qualify for the state championship where they finished 10th.
The team also won the Midland Country Club Tournament and was recognized as an Academic All-State team.
Individually, Ellie Britt finished 15th overall and was named Division One All-State, while Emily Oliver was named to the Academic All-State team.
The two JV teams went 10-0 and 6-3.
“The boys soccer program had another solid season,” Bell said.
The program had 71 boys participating across the varsity, JV and JVB teams, with the varsity team finishing their season 11-8 overall and 4-2 in the OAA White, good enough to tie for second in their OAA division.
The team was knocked out in the second round of the district tournament.
Billy Kapler, Will Farmer, Joey Gayton and Drew Finstrom were named All-League players and Calvin Maes, Ezekiel Bargas, Matias Ballina-Loza and Austin Negri were named All-District players.
There were 51 girls participating in the volleyball program this year.
The varsity team finished 24-14-1 overall and 6-2 in the OAA Red, good for second place in the division.
“It’s a little deceiving. I don’t know if anyone plays a tougher volleyball schedule in the state of Michigan than we do,” Bell said. “Tony (Scavarda, head coach) does that on purpose.”
The team was knocked out in the district semifinals but finished the season as an honorable mention top 10 team in the state.
Seniors Devin Brunk and Sydney Bell, along with junior Charlotte Peplowski, were named All-League players. Brunk was also named All-Region and All-State.
Boys Water Polo
There were 22 athletes that participated in water polo in the fall.
“There are about 30 schools in the state of Michigan that play water polo and we’re one of them,” Bell said. “This is a co-op program where we also welcome athletes from Clarkston as well as Oxford. We don’t get many Oxford kids, we do get a few Clarkston kids every year, but the majority of them are from Lake Orion.”
The team finished the season 9-11-1 and placed fourth out of six teams in district three. More than half of the team earned academic honors as well.
Girls Swimming and Diving
“We compete, again, in an elite division, probably the strongest division in the state of Michigan,” Bell said.
The team of 28 finished second place in the OAA Red, the highest finish in school history, and had a 3-2 dual league record (7-3 overall).
Highlights from the MHSAA state finals included senior Kate Rhodes finishing ninth in the 200 freestyle and 11th in the 100 freestyle. The 200 freestyle relay team finished 11th and the 400 freestyle relay team finished 13th. The team finished 18th overall in the MHSAA state finals.
The boys tennis team had 33 boys participate.
The team finished 9-5 overall and 2-3 in the OAA White division, good enough for a fourth-place division finish. They also won the Chippewa Valley Tournament.
Sophomore Ben Lako, junior Sri Senthil and senior Anthony Roncone all earned All-League honors.
The district’s mountain biking team sees athletes from as young as pre-K to as old as 12th grade. The team has grown so popular that the coaches have had to cap how many athletes they can take on the team.
This year, there were 77 student athletes participating, 11 of whom earned awards at the state championship competition.
“They had a very successful season, they practice right there on the high school grounds, it’s just crazy. It’s one of those events that you have to see to believe,” Bell said. “The hard work that they put in – they’re very good at what they do.”
There were 154 participants this year in football at the high school level.
The team finished the season 10-1 and won the OAA Red division. They went undefeated in the regular season becoming just the sixth team in school history to achieve that milestone. They were also the second highest scoring team in school history, averaging nearly 40 points a game.
Ten players earned All-League honors and five earned All-State honors.
Billy Roberson was named to the All-State Dream Team and leads the all-time rushing yardage in school history.
Sideline Cheer and Dance
While the competitive season for these two programs is currently taking place this winter season, Bell stressed the hard work and support both programs put forward through the fall especially at football games on Friday nights.
Middle School Sports
Across the district; 141 boys participated in football in grades seven and eight, 81 girls participated in girls basketball, 56 girls and 72 boys participated in cross country, and 59 girls were a part of the sideline cheer program at the middle schools.
In November, the first of three Signing Days took place with 13 student athletes signing letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at various colleges throughout the country.
By Megan Kelley