Manett, Raab soar to new Ram record performances

by RANDY GREGORY 

Taylor Manett beats some of the boys while en route to her 3,200-meter school record.

It was a week for the record book for the girls track team at Rockford High School. Not one, but two long-standing marks fell to a pair of Ram athletes who compete in vastly different events.

First up for the Rams was standout distance runner Taylor Manett. The senior ran a sparkling time of 10:26.31 in the 3,200 meters on Thursday against Grand Haven in a dual meet at Rockford. The old mark of 10:38 by Kalin Toedebusch (aka Mrs. Dathan Ritzenhein) had stood since 2000. Toedebusch later went on to a stellar career at the University of Colorado.

“Taylor had a great week of practice and this was something we all knew she was capable of,” said Rockford Coach Randy VanderVeen. “We have always had a great tradition of distance runners here at Rockford and this just helps cement her place.”

Rachel Raab swept both the discus and the shot put all week long for Rockford as has been her norm. But she saved her best effort of the week for the Red Hawk Invitational on Saturday. With a throw of 39′ 11.5″ Raab topped Andi Spaman’s 39′ 11″ toss in 1999. The junior has consistently been in the upper 30s all year long, but finally edged ever so close to the 40′ mark and erased a long-standing school record in the process.

“Rachel has just continually gotten better and better her entire career here at Rockford,” said VanderVeen. “She has a solid work ethic and has an excellent chance of even better performances as time goes on.”

As a team, the Rams crushed both Jenison and Grand Haven in the pair of dual meets on Tuesday and Thursday. They then competed at the Red Hawk Invitational on Saturday with the caveat of basically allowing members of the team to choose one event they wanted to compete in. It didn’t matter as Rockford claimed first place in the event, despite having those potentially crippling restrictions.

Next up for the team is the OK Red conference meet at West Ottawa on Friday. That is the only competition of the week for the 7-0 Rams, following a difficult two-week stretch of solid opponents and frequent events.

“We focus all year on getting everyone ready for major events and the conference meet is definitely one of them for us,” said VanderVeen. “East Kentwood is an excellent team and all the other schools have very good athletes as well. We still have a few girls who are nursing injuries, but we will be as ready as we can be.”

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