Lady Rams Cross Country celebrates a successful week

Rockford runner Caleigh Dunn and Emma Everhart-Deckard

It was a busy and successful week for the Rockford Ram Girls Cross Country team. The week started off with a Tuesday win at the second Conference Jamboree. The lady Rams bested their competition with 35 points compared to Holland West Ottawa 60. This gives the team a heads up going into the Conference Finals. Placing four runners in the top ten proved too much for West Ottawa. Hannah Jefferis finishing 15th outpaced the West Ottawa’s fifth runner in 21st place. The Lady Rams took (1st, 4th, 7th, 8th 15th) places and with their 2nd Jamboree win the are in stellar position to take their 22nd Conference Championship in school history and their 5th in a row.

On the boys’ side it couldn’t have been any closer. The Rockford Ram boy’s having taken 2nd in the first Jamboree, duplicated that finish in the second Jam. The difference between the two was the 1st place team. Grand Haven took the first Jam and Hudsonville took top honors in the second Jam. Those two teams swapped places as Hudsonville was 3rd in the first and Grand Haven dropped to 3rd in the second. With these results, all three teams are tied with 4 points each going into the Conference Finals at Riverside Park on Thursday October 19th. Rockford’s team is looking to continue their conference title streak which stretches back to 1995. During that time, as was the case last year, there were times when they were co-champs.

At the first Jamboree the Rams were 2nd with 61 points behind Grand Haven 54 and ahead of Hudsonville 63. This time around it was Hudsonville with 51 as the Rams were a close 2nd with 52 and ahead of Grand Haven 62. To solidify their 23rd straight title it will be up to the 4th and 5th runners moving up in the conference ranks to overcome that single point loss this week. The school with the 5 best finishers on the 19th will take the lowest point total and the resulting Conference Championship. Coach Andrew Martin likes his teams’ chances of continuing the streak. “We have a couple of freshman that are really coming into their own and if senior Evan Dubey gets healthy that single point loss won’t be much to overcome.”

Individual highlights of the Conference races were Junior Ericka VanderLende 1st in the girls’ varsity race, Senior Dayton Brown 1st in the boys’ varsity race, Freshman Lexie Allshouse 1st in the girls’ junior varsity race and to make it a complete sweep for Rockford, Freshman Kaiden Hunt 1st in the boys’ junior varsity race.

With the Conference races behind them, the teams focused on the large Portage Invitational. At this race the top teams in all four state divisions converge on the Portage West Middle School grounds for the 3.1 Mile race. The Lady Rams were ranked 2nd in Division 1 by MichiganCrossCountry.com behind Northville and ahead of Ann Arbor Pioneer, Troy and Traverse City Central. With three of the four at Portage the results would show how these rankings may play out the first of November at the State Finals. The hard charging ladies showed their prowess taking first with 116 points ahead of Pioneer 142 and Northville 144 with the Traverse City Schools Central and West taking 4th and 5th places.

Of the 293 runners in Division One, Rockford secured the win with Ericka VanderLende 2nd, Cami Gabriel 12th, Caleigh Dunn 23rd, Emma Everhart-Deckard 29th and Hannah Jefferis 50th. In the JV race the Rams took a closely contested 3rd place behind TC West 61, East Grand Rapids 65 with Rams 67. Leading the way was 1st place finisher Freshman Karlie Gardner. Coach Ben Watson was extremely pleased with how the girls ran Saturday. “With this caliber of competition, the girls brought their best efforts and it showed in the results. We look forward to the remaining races and hope to see that same effort at the end of the month during the championship races.”

In the boys’ race 343 runners finished the 5K course with a pair of Ram Seniors showing why they are ranked in the top 5 in Division One. The overall winner was Cole Johnson 15:21, who just recently committed to run at the University of Michigan, and Dayton Brown taking 5th in 15:52. Helping the team finish 8th overall were Jack Grimm 36th, Jude Parks 100th, and Ian Cook 129th.

Next up is the Kent-Ottawa Championship races at Gainey Field of Calvin College on Saturday October 14th and the Conference Finals on Thursday October 19th at Riverside Park.