By DAVID GABRIEL
Both the Rockford Ram Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity squads brought home OK Red Conference titles. The varsity seven scored 29 points to outdistance Caledonia with 83 and Hudsonville with 85. On the junior varsity side, the top seven scored an impressive 24 points ahead of Grand Haven 56 and Hudsonville 76. Coach Ben Watson stated, “It was a great day for our lady Rams. With both squads taking titles, it shows the depth and commitment of our girls to our running program.”
The varsity girls had outstanding performances by Junior Ericka VanderLende who lead from the gun to take first place by over 40 seconds and a mere 8.5 seconds off the school record. Senior Camryn Gabriel moved up in her third mile to take fourth for the third time in the three conference races. Not to be left too far behind, a trio of runners were only split by 18 seconds in 7th, 8th and 9th places. Leading that pack was Junior Emma Everhart-Deckard followed by Seniors Caleigh Dunn and Hannah Jefferis (LTPR 19:12). Rounding out the top seven were Freshman Karlie Gardner who posted a LTPR of 19:50 and Senior Megan Parker.
Coach Watson noted, “It was the effort of Hannah improving by over 30 seconds on her life time best that made a difference today. Our other top 4 ran times comparable to their season bests, but Hannah turned it up a notch today.” Because of their efforts today, as well as the first two conference races, those first five ladies were named to the All-Conference team.
The accolades kept coming as the junior varsity girls stretched out the field as they ran along the Grand River course at Riverside Park. Leading their way to the title was Junior Carly Maynard 1st, just 4 seconds back was Freshman Riley Thompson 2nd. Once again, a trio of ladies crossed the line in 6th, 7th and 8th places with Sophomore Liz Bennet (LTPR 20:45) leading Junior Diana Candela and Senior Maggie Hammer to the finish. Rounding out the top seven were Freshman Lexie Allshouse and Sophomore Taylor Korytkowski. Other girls in the top ten for the Rams setting LTPR’s were Freshman Kyra Johnson (21:44) and Sophomore Sophia Ullery (21:55).
Next up for the lady Rams is the state qualifying Regional meet at Allendale on Saturday, October 28, 2017. The top three teams qualify for the State Finals the following Saturday, November 4th at Michigan International Speedway. The ladies who are currently ranked #1 in Division 1 are looking to bring podium finishes these last two races. Coach Watson said, “It will take continued efforts from these ladies like we have seen all season for that podium success to happen. As always a bit of luck to stay healthy would be nice.” He also noted, “These girls are on a mission to improve on our worst showing at the state meet in many years. Especially our upper-class girls want to go out with a banner finish.”