Category Archives: Sports

Sports news from Rockford Public Schools

Rams Wrap up Regular Hockey Season in Style

by CHRIS CRUICKSHANK

The Rockford varsity hockey team went on a pre-playoff rampage last week, defeating Muskegon Catholic Central by a score of 5-2 and Grand Rapids Catholic Central by a score of 6-1. With victories in these last two games of the regular season, the Rams are riding a six-game winning streak into this week’s playoffs.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Rams faced off against the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders, who entered the game on a nine-game winning streak. Rockford took command of the game early thanks to two first-period goals by co-captain Mason McGillicuddy. Travis Guest assisted on both goals and Tyler Carlson provided an assist on McGillicuddy’s second tally.

In the second period, the Rams found the back of the Crusader’s net three more times on goals by Cody Cantu, Mike Bieke (assisted by Phil Piiralla) and Andy Shira (assisted by co-captain Adam Hoard, and Guest – his third of the game). The Crusaders scored once in each of the second and third periods to post the final score at 5-2. Forrest Andrus split goal-tending duties with Christian VanPortfliet, and was credited with the victory, his 11th of the season.

On Saturday night, Feb. 28, the Rams finished off their league play for the year against the Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars. Cantu opened the scoring for the Rams when he fired in a rebound from linemate Bieke’s initial shot. Co-captain Dan Cruickshank notched Rockford’s second goal when he fired in a slap shot from the defensive point. The Cougars took advantage of a Ram penalty to score a power play goal to cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, the Rams fine-tuned their precision passing game, resulting in goals by McGillicuddy (assisted by Hoard and Guest) and Hoard (assisted by McGillicuddy and Guest). Then Cantu scored his second goal of the game, assisted by Cruickshank. The goal was one for the highlight reel, as Cruickshank attempted to stuff the puck into the left side of the net, regained his rebound, and cut behind the net while being tripped by a Cougar defender. As he was falling, he scooped the puck in front of the net where the charging Cantu slammed it home, raising the score to 5-1 at the end of two periods.

However, the production line of McGillicuddy, Guest and Hoard wasn’t finished yet as Hoard notched his second goal of the game, assisted by Guest and Carlson to close the scoring. Guest’s assist was his third of the night and marked the second consecutive game that he earned three assists. Andrus earned his 12th win of the campaign as the Rams raised their overall record to 19-4-2-1 (W-L-T-OTL). The Rams’ final league record was 7-3-1-1, which earned them a second-place tie with East Kentwood, behind the league champion Mona Shores Sailors. The disappointment of a second-place tie is lessened by the Rams’ knowledge that they defeated the Sailors in both of their meetings this season.

The Rams pursue the regional championship on Monday, March 2, as they take on Grand Ledge, with the winner taking on the winner of the Lowell/Caledonia-DeWitt game on Wednesday night, March 4. Both the Monday and Wednesday games will be held at Patterson Ice Center. The regional championship game will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at the Kensington Valley Ice Center, located near Brighton.

Two Rockford Skiers Compete in State Competition

The Michigan Division I skiing finals were held at Boyne Mountain on Feb. 23. The only team from the conference to compete at the state level was the Grand Haven boys. However, two individuals from Rockford were selected to compete at the state competition based on their individual finishes in the regional qualifiers, which were held at Cannonsburg on Feb. 13. Sophomore Julie Daukss competed in both slalom and giant slalom (GS), while junior Michael Dix’s time in the slalom event qualified him as a competitor.

Conditions for the state competition were perfect, with brilliant sunshine, freshly fallen groomed snow, and no wind. Ten teams of six members plus 16 individual qualifiers competed in each category for both boys and girls. Daukss finished in the top 10 for slalom with a 10th-place finish, as well as a fine 16th-place finish in GS. Dix finished in 26th place in slalom on the men’s side.

Both Daukss and Dix qualified for all-conference honors along with teammates, Carly Funk, John Milewski and Taylor Noakes. Daukss and Dix also qualified for the All Region ski team, awarded by the Michigan High School Ski Coaches Association.

Rockford will return all but three graduating seniors to the team next year and is looking forward to a great season.

Rockford Competitive Cheer Falls Short of Qualifying for State

by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER

The tears told the story. For the second straight year, the Rockford varsity competitive cheer team had performed three solid, crowd-electrifying rounds, yet their season would end at regionals, not at the coveted state meet.

The team – which had its fans abuzz in the stands at Brighton High School Saturday after performing well against 11 other regional qualifiers – finished eight points behind Lake Orion, which captured the fourth and final qualifying spot for the state meet at the Delta Plex on Saturday. Last year Rockford missed qualifying by six points.

“We wanted them to have three solid rounds, and we hoped it would be enough,” said Coach Kathy Jo Resseguie, who pulled the girls into the locker room shortly before the results were announced to tell them the bad news. “They are winners in our eyes because they gave all they had until the end.”

“We rocked! We looked good,” added assistant coach Mary Hurt. “We definitely peaked when we needed to. We were headed in the right direction. I’m so proud of them.”

The Rams have only qualified for the state finals once in the last four years, but they have been close every time. As part of the most competitive league in the state, the OK Red, the Rams have fallen victim often to a system that allowed more teams on the east side of the state to qualify than on the west side. In three of the last four regionals, they have come head to head with five of the Top 10 teams in Division I, all from their league. Included in the mix have been Division I defending champion Grandville, East Kentwood, West Ottawa, Jenison and Hudsonville. Only two teams were allowed to advance until this year.

When the Rams qualified in 2006, they were the lone OK Red team to compete in the regional in Mount Pleasant and were able to advance to state with a first-place finish. The other league competitors had to fight for two spots in another regional that year, leaving some top-ranked teams sitting home on state competition day. The Rams, who have been ranked in the Top 10 or honorable mention almost every year for the past decade, finished sixth in the state in 2006.

In 2007, they placed fourth in the regional. Last year they were third. Their regional score of 784.668 was the sixth highest in the state in 2008; five teams that scored below them in other regionals moved on to the state final.

This year, the Michigan High School Athletic Association changed the qualifying program, adding a district tournament. Fourteen teams competed in the first-ever districts at Rockford on Feb. 21. The top six finishers were from the OK Red. Four advanced to the regional. Not advancing were Jenison, ranked eighth in the state, and Hudsonville, both of whom are consistently higher-scoring teams than many finishers at both Division I regionals Saturday.

Although the change has been beneficial, the system still does not allow the best to compete in the final competition.

“Since they changed the rules, they have opened up more opportunities for teams, but there are still flaws in the system,” said senior Andrea Decker, who has competed on varsity since her freshman year. “Some of the top teams don’t get to go. We’ve had great teams that have worked hard that haven’t had a chance to go.”

At Brighton, the Rams were in fifth place from start to finish. In round one, they scored 221.6 points, putting them eight points behind leader Grandville (229.5). Also ahead of them were West Ottawa (227.7), Lake Orion (226.7), and district winner East Kentwood (223.6). In retrospect, at the previous week’s district tournament in round one, Grandville had scored 236.2, East Kentwood had scored 233.7, West Ottawa had scored 233.2, and the Rams had scored 229.2, all performing basically the same routines they put on the floor Saturday. Those score discrepancies show the subjectivity of the sport.

“They worked hard all week and improved on the things the judges [at the district competition] asked them to do, but we had different judges here, and we didn’t know what they wanted because they’ve never seen us,” said Resseguie, named as one of four Regional Coaches of the Year.

In round two, the Rams had one of their best routines of the year, but their two-round score of 467.67 kept them in fifth place, three points behind East Kentwood. Going into round three, the Rockford coaches, athletes and fans knew the girls would have to “nail” all of their stunts and gymnastics moves to secure that spot. The girls answered the call, looking especially capable in their five extensions, a strength move no other team in the state does. Their final score of 781.57, however, put them behind Grandville (799.51), East Kentwood (793.04), West Ottawa (791.91), and Lake Orion (789.97).

Rockford’s Swim/Dive Team Wins OK Red Conference Title

by DENISE WEBB

sp-swim1How sweet it is to taste victory as the underdog! As West Michigan media favored Grandville as the next winner of the OK Red swimming and diving conference title, Rockford had much to prove as it entered the waters of the Jenison Aquatic Center during preliminaries on Friday, Feb. 27, followed by the final heats on Saturday, Feb. 28.

After a two-day battle filled with nonstop excitement against some of West Michigan’s top swimmers and divers from East Kentwood, Grand Haven, Grandville, Hudsonville, Jenison and West Ottawa, the Rams won by 56.5 points.

Even though the Rams eventually won by a respectable margin, the score of the 12-event meet was always fluctuating, keeping Rams fans on the edge of their seats. A prime example was when Rockford was down 11 points after the eighth event, and then fought back only to tie Grandville after the ninth and tenth events.

The moment of the meet that “sealed the deal” came when junior Brian Ginebaugh, freshman Bryan Wasberg and seniors Andrew Sakala and Guy Gordon placed 1-2-3-7, respectively, in the 100-yard breaststroke, the 11th event, earning the Rams enough points to enter the 12th, and final, event with an untouchable lead.

sp-swim2As Gordon touched the wall and quickly looked at the scoreboard, he said he was “ecstatic” to learn that his teammates placed 1-2-3, and his time qualified him to compete at the state level in two weeks. “All the hard work paid off!” he expressed.

The competition overall was extremely fierce at the conference meet. Several swimmers from all seven schools secured state qualifying times. Throughout the two-day meet, approximately 80 percent of Rockford’s extraordinary team swam or dove personal bests, resulting in 27 individual conference medals. The Rockford medal holders are: seniors Tyler Augustine (four medals), Gordon (one), diver Quinton Rodriguez (one) and Sakala (four); juniors Derik Bothma (four), Alex Devries (three), Ginebaugh (four), diver Tyler Johnson (one) and Connor Thelen (one); and freshmen Josh Travis (two) and Wasberg (four).

sp-swim3“This team’s seniors have come a long way since their freshman year,” said Assistant Coach Don Seifert. “Their progress has been exceptional, and their win has been an incredible achievement.”

“This year’s team is one of the most aggressive I have ever coached,” said Coach Tom Parks.

Parks went on to say that even during the regular season when Rockford was substantially ahead in a meet, the team continued to apply pressure. They weren’t going to swim at the competitor’s level, he stated. They were there to improve their times, even pushing themselves to earn a state qualifying time when Rockford was already clearly the winner of the meet.

Assistant Coach Dave McWatters was smiling when he said, “We need to thank West Ottawa for beating us during the regular season.” McWatters felt that loss was a key part of the season, because the boys came back stronger than ever, eventually winning the conference title.

This meet ends an accomplished conference season for the Rams. The team concluded its dual meet season in a three-way tie (5-1 record each) with Grandville and West Ottawa and now has won the OK Red conference title. Rockford’s swimmers named to All Conference are Augustine, Bothma, Devries, Ginebaugh, Sakala and Wasberg. On March 12-14, several Rockford swimmers and divers will compete at the state level at Eastern Michigan University.

Lady Rams Bowlers Repeat as OK Red Champs

sp-bowlingRockford’s girls bowling team has repeated for the fourth straight year as OK Red conference champions. The Lady Rams won it in convincing fashion by defeating Grand Haven in their last two conference matches 19-11 and 21.5-8.5 and dominating the post-conference tournament, winning by 226 pins over closest rival Grandville 3,440-3,214.

The Lady Rams were led by Mallorie Webber with a 241 game and an even 600 series, followed by Erin VanDrunen with a 526 series, next by Jacquelyn Beard’s 519 and Christina Miller’s 490.

“The girls bowled great today,” commented Coach Lynn Farrance. “We have been so busy this month, we haven’t been able to practice, but we were able to get one in this week and it sure showed. They were great in every way. Strikes were up, spares were up, and so was their focus on the game. Just a great day for them.”

The boys finished in third place in the tournament behind Hudsonville and Grandville, and finished second overall in the final standings of the OK Red behind overall champion Hudsonville.

Both teams will be bowled Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27-28 at the Divison I Region I regionals held at Westgate Lanes on Alpine Avenue. Watch The Squire for results.