Rockford’s young and successful boys varsity-B team represented the cross country heritage of the school well on Saturday at the Kent County Cross Country Championship, held at Grand Rapids Christian School’s Gainey Complex on East Paris Ave. Rockford Head Coach Andrew Martin made the decision to rest his varsity-A team in preparation for the upcoming conference and regional meets as the team tries to recover from illness.
Coach Martin’s day did not start out the way he planned, as senior runner Kyle Alberta fell ill just before the start of the boys varsity race.
Martin commented, “Kyle has been running really well lately. His best times ever have come in the past two weeks. This will create an opportunity for someone else to step up.”
On a perfect day for running, with temperatures in the low 40s and very light wind, it did not take long to see that there would be some very fast times posted. East Kentwood’s Isaac Cox, one of the pre-race favorites, won the race in 16 minutes flat, as Kentwood also brought home the invitational trophy with a first-place finish. It also did not take long to see that Rockford’s boys were up to the task of performing strong even when the team was not at full strength. Led by senior Ryan Romain (17:23, 21st place overall), the Ram runners took the next three places, with Taylor Swihart (17:26), Connor Jewell (17:28) and Evan Bruin (17:32) all scoring points for the team. Senior co-captain Brett Johnson was the final Ram to score points, as he finished in 34th place with a time of 17:57.
Rockford’s junior varsity team also ran at Gainey with some very respectable times. They were led by fast-improving sophomore Tyler Harney in a personal best 17:43. Harney was followed by fellow underclassmen Nate Macqueen (18:08), Jon Hazy (18:14), Andrew Pitcher (18:20) and Stephen Knape (18:26). Much like the varsity squad, the JV runners packed up very nicely and ran and pushed each other throughout the race.
“Pack running has been our strategy for years,” commented Coach Martin. “We practice together, so we like to race together. This mentality has brought us a great deal of success.”
The Rams next race at East Kentwood High School on Thursday, Oct. 22, for the OK Red conference championship. Races begin at 3:00 p.m.