The Lady Ram Track and Field Team had their best finish in many years at the State Final Meet held at East Kentwood on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018. What on paper looked to be an Oak Park runaway, turned into a tightly contested match which saw Oak Park narrowly beat Rockford 66 to 59.5 with East Kentwood 3rd with 52 points. The Lady Rams only had 11 girls participate in the 17 events, but their scoring came up big for the team as all 11 were designated All-State Qualifiers.
The day started off with the 4 x 800 Relay team taking a close 2nd to Oak Park with times of 9:08.75 to 9:10.46. That Lady Rams time bested that of last year’s state final team by 2.4 seconds. Leading the way this year was Ericka VanderLende handing off to Caleigh Dunn to Karlie Gardner with Camryn Gabriel as the anchor leg. Rockford’s next points came in the 4 x 200 Relay also with a 2nd place finish in 1:41.18. Abby Nash, Casey Lenon, Jillian Roney and Taylor Korytkowski showed determination as they finished less than 2 seconds behind Detroit Renaissance.
Ericka VanderLende provided the next 10 points with her 1st Place finish in a Rockford School Record time of 4:45.17 in the 1600-meter run. Coach VanderVeen noted, “Ericka dropped over 15 seconds off her state final time from last year and improved substantially on her 13th place finish of a year ago. She has become one of the elite runners in the state of Michigan.” Cami Gabriel, in her final high school race, set her own PR in the 1600 with her 13th place finish in 5:04.09. Coach Watson noted, “Cami has had an excellent high school running career and we are sad to see it end, but proud to see her continue running at Grand Valley State next year.”
Next to score was the 4 x 100 Relay team of Velencia Goldsmith, Casey Lenon, Abby Nash and Jillian Roney who together posted a time of 48.09 to place 3rd. Their time was just 0.12 seconds off the school record set back in 2009.
Jillian Roney placed 4th in the 300-meter hurdles lowering her School Record another 0.02 seconds to 44.05. Taylor Korytkowski placed 5th in the 200-meter in a time of 25.05, having set here PR in the prelims at 25.01. Ericka VanderLende was back on the track next where she placed 2nd in the 3200 with a time of 10:12.26.
The 4 x 400 Relay team finished the scoring with a 3rd place finish in a time of 3:56.75. The team consisted of the Korytkowski sisters, Peyton and Taylor, along with Karlie Gardner and Casey Lenon. Prior to her final relay leg, Lenon also tied for 4th in the High Jump with a height of 5 foot 4 inches. Coach VanderVeen pointed out, “Casey with her success in her first year of competing in the High Jump has now garnered interest from many collegiate schools and will surely improve with added training in that event next year in college.”
In total those 11 lady runners took points in 9 of 17 events. Coaches Randy VanderVeen, Ben Watson and Jane VanNiekerk were extremely proud of the accomplishments on the day. Coach Watson stated,” The 4×800 Relay team had the highest finish and fastest time of any team that I have coached here at Rockford. We had girls take 3 to 6 seconds off their 800 splits and that made the difference in their time.”