The three-time defending state champion East Kentwood (EK) Falcons came to Rockford Thursday, April 19 with another loaded squad in the key OK Red boys track meet of the season. The Falcons emerged victorious by an 81-56 margin, but left knowing that this Ram squad had made significant inroads into their normal margins of victory.
“It has been a long time since anyone has kept us under 100 points,” said EK Coach Dave Emeott. “That is a credit to Rockford and will ultimately help us down the road. This is the deepest Rockford team I have seen in a while and they put up a great fight.”
Rockford scored points in every individual event, including sweeping the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, as they put up a stubborn resistance to an overwhelming wave of talent that the Falcons can field.
“We were pretty happy with our effort on the day,” said Rockford Coach Andy Martin. “We wanted to win badly and really gave it a great effort, but EK is just a very, very good team. I was happy in particular with a couple of our younger kids today. Grant Aman had never run better than a 2:06 split in the 800-meter relay and he came through with a 2:02, and Mitchell Switzer ran a 4:38.87 1,600 to get within three seconds of qualifying for the regionals. Ivy Johnson had a great day also with personal bests in the shot put [43'9.5"] and discus [127'] to take third in both events.”
Rockford won only three individual events and only one relay, but their depth kept them within shouting distance for the majority of the evening. Ben Braden won the discus and took second in the shot put. Casey Aman and Tyler Harney went one and two in both the 1,600 and 3,200. And the only other win for Rockford came in the 3,200-meter relay. That quartet of Chris Coles, Austin Benoit, Drew Woznick and Grant Aman ran a 8:04.11 that is far and away the best time in the state so far this year.
“We have really gotten off to a good start this year,” said Martin. “We are running comparable times to last year in almost every event and better times in the distance events. It is also still pretty early in the season and we should only get better. We have a busy schedule this week and we need to build our momentum off of this effort to improve over the balance of the season.”
The Rams will face Grandville and Hudsonville in a pair of OK Red meets on Tuesday, April 24 (too late for press) and Thursday, April 26 to begin the week. They will then travel to Michigan State University for the Spartan Classic on Friday, April 27 before concluding the week with a Saturday trip to Wyoming Park for the Frank Grimm Relays.
“We will have a lot of kids running in those two events this weekend,” said Martin. “There will be very few competing in both, but we love some of those shuttle relays that they run in the Grimm event and we always look forward to that.”
Tuesday night, April 17 the Rams made the trek to Muskegon and thumped the Big Reds by a score of 105-31.