By DAVID GABRIEL
The start line on the soccer field saw the sprinklers sprout up for the early Saturday morning 5K at Allendale High School. Less than an hour after the sun had risen, the first of six races got under way, after the watering system had been shut down. The Allendale Invite is divided into Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshman races. It was a sunny, windless day that saw runners take advantage of the flat course. With the temperatures down, so too did the times of the runners drop. Virtually all runners on the day set LTPR’s.
The day started with the Girls Varsity run at 8:30 am. In the Scarlet, big school division, the Lady Rams easily took first place with 30 points, distancing Grand Haven 77 and Forest Hills Northern 90. Rockford put four runners in the top six and all seven runners in the top 25.
Leading the way were Junior Ericka VanderLende (1st, 17:25), Senior Camryn Gabriel (3rd, 18:10), Junior Emma Everhart-Deckard (5th, 18:34), Senior Caleigh Dunn (6th, 18:34), Senior Hannah Jefferis (15th, 19:18), Senior Megan Parker (21st, 19:25) and Junior Carly Maynard (25th, 19:29).
Coach Watson remarked, “What wonderful efforts by these ladies today. Having four runners under 19 minutes and all seven under 20 minutes has not happened in our running program here at Rockford in a while.” In-fact the last team to do this was the team of 2012. Another time that all seven runners went under 20 minutes were the state finals of 2014, when a trio of freshman, now seniors, Cami Gabriel, Hannah Jefferis and Megan Parker helped contribute to that statistic and replicated at the Conference Finals last year. Coach Watson is pleased with how these three runners have maintained their individual successes while contributing to the past four years of team success. The next 5 weeks will define their High School careers as the season winds down to Regionals October 28th and States November 4th.
Coach Martins’ Varsity Boys’ team took 3rd with 71 points behind 1st place Grand Haven 52 and FHN 57. Leading the way was Senior Dayton Brown (2nd, 15:25), Junior Jack Grimm (6th, 16:08) with Sophomores Ian Cook (20th, 16:35) and Jacob Majoor (25th, 16:53) and Freshman Jude Parks (21st, 16:36) and Sam Johnson (22nd, 16:37).
Next on the day were the Junior Varsity races. On the ladies’ side, the Ram’s took 2nd with 52 points behind Grand Haven’s 33. Taking first overall was Ram Junior Diana Candela (1st, 20:19). Also placing in the top 10 were Sophomore Taylor Korytkowski (8th, 20:55), Senior Maggie Hammer (9th, 20:56) and Sophomore Elizabeth Bennet (10th, 20:57). The Ram boys were not to be outdone by their female teammates as they took top honors with 33 points with league rival Grand Haven second with 52. This team of young men put five runners in the top ten led by Juniors Nick Forrest (3rd, 17:24) and Lucas Patin (4th, 17:24) followed by Seniors’ Brando Schultz (7th, 17:32) and Joel Wilson (9th, 17:37) with Sophomore Evan Veldkamp (10th, 17:40).
Freshman were the last races to be run, but a couple standouts showed they were worthy of some 1st place recognition. Lady Ram Riley Thompson took top honors with a time of 20:13 and on the Boy’s side Kaiden Hunt took top honors in 17:20. Also finishing in the top ten for their teams were Elise VanStensel (9th, 21:40) and James Geshel (5th, 18:25).
The week gets off to an early start of racing with the second OK Red Jamboree Conference meet on Tuesday hosted by Caledonia and the hugely contested Portage Invitational on Saturday the 7th in Kalamazoo.