For an unprecedented 15th straight year, Rockford’s boys cross country team captured the OK Red crown as conference champions last Thursday at the campus of East Kentwood High School.
“We expect to challenge for the OK Red crown every year. Our boys know, coming in, that we have to be at our very best to continue the streak. Today, our guys took on the challenge of a tough muddy course and some quality competition, and they didn’t disappoint me or themselves,” commented Coach Andrew Martin, who has guided the Rams as head coach for the past three seasons.
The Rockford boys team was led by senior Grant Gunneson, who was third overall in the race with a time of 16:51. He was followed by fellow senior Drake Veitenheimer (fourth, 16:59), junior Spencer Gerber (fifth, 17:07), senior Nick Shear (eighth, 17:11), and junior Devon Liu (12th, 17:22). All five scoring runners for Rockford were awarded All Conference medals for their performances.
In the junior varsity race, Rockford showed that the cupboard will not be bare next year as the Rams swept the first five places, earning them a perfect score of 15 in JV team competition. The Rams were paced by Jake Naessens (17:47), who easily outdistanced the field to finish in first place. Naessens was followed across the finish line by Evan Bruin (17:54), Brett Johnson (17:58), Connor Jewell (17:58) and Taylor Swihart (18:01), a spread of only 14 seconds from first to fifth place.
Coach Martin said, “I was apparently more nervous than the boys, as our JV guys ran excellent today. For many of these guys, this was their last race of the season, and it is always great to go out with big performances.”
Rockford will be in action this Saturday, Oct. 31, at Carson City for the MHSAA Division I regional action. The top three teams and the top 15 individuals advance to the state finals at Michigan International Speedway on Nov. 7.