Rivalry continues with Rockford, Grand Haven sharing conference title

Rockford’s boys cross-country team traveled to Grand Haven Friday afternoon, Oct. 22, for a rematch with their worthy rivals from Grand Haven. Having recently lost the dual meet with Grand Haven earlier in the month, the boys were prepared to run hard to win Friday’s OK Red conference meet, which included eight schools: East Kentwood, Grand Haven, Grandville, Hudsonville, Jenison, Muskegon and Rockford. The scoring for the conference champions is based on the outcome of both the conference meets and the dual meets. With Grand Haven being undefeated in dual meets, only a win at the conference would allow Rockford to share the title.

Grand Haven has a strong home course advantage with their steep hills that have the boys exerting extra energy at several critical points during the race. But the Rams’ boys had recent experience with the course and extra determination to bring home the trophy, winning with a score of 32, a full 15 points ahead of Grand Haven’s 47-point second-place position.

Grand Haven’s Joe Duff took first place with a state-ranking sub-16 time. Spencer Gerber led the Rams with a second-place score of 16:23. But one of the deciding runners for this race was Steven Ek, who took fourth place, setting a new personal record and coming in ahead of “Little Duff”—Joe’s younger brother Ryan—by five seconds. Other key decision-makers in the race included Drew Woznick in sixth place with 16:40 and Austin Benoit in eighth place with a new personal record time of 16:41—both coming in ahead of Grand Haven’s number three and four positions. Senior Devon Liu (16:48) and sophomores Chris Coles (17:09) and Casey Aman (17:13) rounded off Ram varsity runners.

The junior varsity race was once again dominated by the Rams, whereas the unusual depth of the team shows through at virtually every competition. The Rams had 17 runners in the top 30 award-winning positions, making up 57 percent of the JV medalists. The medalists include senior Evan Bruin (17:28 for first place), junior Connor Jewell (17:40 in second), senior Mike Greko (17:44 in third), senior Eric Parsell (17:45 in fifth), sophomore Grant Aman (17:53 in eighth), senior Nate MacQueen (18:00 in ninth), senior Tim Newberger (18:02, 10th), junior Tyler Harney (18:03, 11th), junior Kevin Cowell with a personal record time of 18:03 (13th), junior Mark Lehman (18:04, 14th), junior Andrew Pitcher (18:11, 16th), senior Jake Naessens (18:14, 17th), freshman Matt Albano (18:18, 18th), sophomore Mark Cruikshank (18:28, 22nd), junior Doug Halmi (18:28, 23rd), senior Mick DeBoer (18:35, 25th), and senior Cameron Fasel (18:38, 27th).

The young men who make up the depth of this year’s team are classic examples of the hard-working and dedicated individuals responsible for carrying on the Rockford cross-country legacy. There are many senior runners who have the rare opportunity to run varsity races, but whose guidance to the younger team members has been pivotal in the development of many talented younger runners who are emerging on the team. Additional seniors on the 2010 team include Adam Kogelschatz, Nathan Traxler, Collin Hayes, Jamie Bivins, Nathan Sosa and Alex Quinn.

According to Tim Newberger, a team captain, “When you have stiff competition among the team for the limited varsity spots, it makes the whole team run harder.”

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