Lady Ram Cagers fall, still hold on to first in OK Red

 Megan Kelley makes the layup  

 

Megan Kelley makes the layup look easy as she scores big for the Lady Rams. Photo by TOM SCOTT

 

Five weeks ago, January 15, it took a Herculean effort for Grand Haven to overcome an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and double overtime to defeat the Rockford girls basketball team. However, Friday, Feb. 19, the Buccaneers defeated the Rams in regulation play 48-36.

Grand Haven’s game plan apparently was to crash the defensive boards, make quick outlet passes to open Bucs, and push the ball up court, scoring easy points inside. The taller Bucs were able to accomplish this on numerous occasions, taking a 13-4 first-quarter lead. The Rams were finding it difficult to hit the open player inside and were finding it equally difficult scoring from outside. Grand Haven took a 22-8 advantage into intermission, holding the Rams to their fewest points all season.

Rockford’s Lady Rams fought back, outscoring the taller Bucs in the third quarter, 11-8, on gritty play from sophomore Kimberly Weston, and seniors Allison Huyser and Katherine Huyser. Grand Haven held Rockford in check offensively by blocking a considerable number of shots during the second half. Unfortunately, the Rams never found their offense and seemed unable to push the ball up court to open players. The difficulty in scoring made it hard for the Rams to transition into their full court pressure, a trademark of their success all season.

Leading the Lady Rams in scoring were Weston (10 points), A. Huyser (9), Caitlyn Patterson (7), K. Huyser (4), Megan Kelley (4), and Halle Peterson (2). Rockford was 7-9 from the charity line, with Grand Haven at 17-24. Rockford had 17 fouls; Grand Haven 11.

After this game, a three-way tie exists atop the OK Red conference: Rockford, Grand Haven and West Ottawa, all with identical 9-3 records. Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Rams host Jenison, then host Muskegon on Friday, Feb. 26.

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Rams varsity cheer ‘never looks back’

by MARY JO HUMPHREYS-HILLS

The Rockford varsity competitive cheer team jumped and tumbled their way to a sixth-place finish on February 19 at the district meet in Jenison. In one of the most exciting meets this year, the Lady Rams were within a point of a fifth-place finish, scoring a total of 776.2 in all three rounds. A charged round one resulted in a score of 221.4, followed by 16 solid team tucks for a total of 239.9 in round two. The round three score was 314.9, as the cheerleaders performed one of their top performances this season. The district competition followed another exciting meet in West Ottawa the previous Tuesday, where the Lady Rams had their best scores this season.

The foundation for the future of the Rockford varsity competitive cheer team is set by seniors Torri Mills and Nicole Siderius.

The foundation for the future of the Rockford varsity competitive cheer team is set by seniors Torri Mills and Nicole Siderius.

The Lady Rams tied for fourth place in conference standings and finished another close fifth in the final OK Red conference post-season competition on February 16. Each cheer round was split by a narrow margin between all the teams in Division I. The Lady Rams tallied solid scores of 222 in round one and 248 in round two, while finishing with a final round three score of 323, setting a new school record.

Seniors Torri Mills and Nicole Siderius set the foundation for the future for this group of women. Mills is finishing her fourth year and was energized by the drive and heart of this team for the sport. “This team wants to be here,” commented Mills. Her facial expressions, motions and solid experience as a flyer make her a lasting impression.

Also in her fourth year, Siderius, who is also in all three rounds, worked to strengthen the confidence in the underclassmen. She is always ready to work and never steps back from a challenge. “This team has grown so much this year. It has been fun to work with a group who will listen and work to step up their game,” she said.

Both seniors are fantastic leaders who lead by example on the floor. All the seniors have shown remarkable leadership this year in building the strong team with a big heart.

The Rockford Rams varsity competitive cheer team is made up of Courtney Beals, Mallory Bolin, Abby Brown, Hali Cole, Carly Dew, Audrewy Dornan, Maddie Ek, Sam Foster, Laura Gerkey, Taylor Greer, Diana Hall, Haley Hegal, Jordyn Hills, Katie Hodgman, Natalee Johnson, Paige Mather, Charley Meuser, Torri Mills, Hanna Peasley, Mariah Sapp, Alex Schaap, Nicole Siderius, Alicia Spees, Rachael Tarach, Kayleigh Vanpeursem, and coaches Kathy Jo Resseguie and Mary Hurt.

The Rockford Rams varsity competitive cheer team is made up of Courtney Beals, Mallory Bolin, Abby Brown, Hali Cole, Carly Dew, Audrewy Dornan, Maddie Ek, Sam Foster, Laura Gerkey, Taylor Greer, Diana Hall, Haley Hegal, Jordyn Hills, Katie Hodgman, Natalee Johnson, Paige Mather, Charley Meuser, Torri Mills, Hanna Peasley, Mariah Sapp, Alex Schaap, Nicole Siderius, Alicia Spees, Rachael Tarach, Kayleigh Vanpeursem, and coaches Kathy Jo Resseguie and Mary Hurt.

Coach Kathy Jo Resseguie summed up the season, “I am so extremely proud of the girls this season. They fought till the end and never backed down. We had an amazing day at West Ottawa, putting the fight and belief back in them. They came up short of reaching their ultimate goal at districts, but came out on top this season in character, attitudes and teamwork. Their coaches, families and fans could not be prouder. Have no doubt that Rockford cheer will be back fighting even harder next year. The team has gained needed experience and listened and learned from an amazing group of senior athletes.”

Coach Mary Hurt remarked about the team as they finished out the season, “I am so very proud of the girls and how hard they worked all season and how they really rallied together and stepped up to show everyone that they weren’t to be ‘counted out.’ We finally had a competition to what we have been seeing in practice. We couldn’t be prouder as coaches. I have really enjoyed getting to know these girls and have loved every minute with them and watching them grow together as a team. Our seniors were absolutely instrumental in how we turned out and I honestly can’t imagine what we will do without them. But I think they have taught the others well to lead our future.”

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Rockford gymnasts take second place in conference meet

by JANE NOFFSINGER

The Rockford gymnastics team hosted the OK conference meet Saturday, Feb. 20 at Rockford High School.

Six teams competed for the honor of OK conference champions in a display of huge talent and determination. Both Division I and Division II gymnasts competed side by side for the title.

Mona Shores came away the title winners with an overall score of 144.42. Rockford followed in second place with 139.825, with Kenowa Hills rounding out the top three with 139.4.

Rockford senior Ali VanBelkum placed in each event, taking second on the beam with a beautiful routine that earned a 9.35. Although the beam proved to be the most difficult event of the day, the gymnasts showed their strong character by jumping back on the beam and scoring well under pressure. Sophomore Jenelle Miller had a perfect routine and scored an impressive 8.875. Senior Emily Noffsinger struggled with a fall, but still scored a respectable 8.575. Junior Katie Palmisano also scored well with an 8.25.

On the uneven bars, freshman Colleen Conroy was the high scorer with an 8.8. The freshman gymnast’s routine showcased two giants. The giants demonstrated the gymnast’s strength by completely circling the high bar, while maintaining a continuous flow of motion.

On the floor exercise, VanBelkum led with a 9.5. Senior Kelsey Donley scored 8.9, with Noffsinger scoring 8.75. Miller’s floor exercise was excellent with a score of 8.7. Senior Kaylie Newville’s floor exercise, always entertaining, earned an 8.5.

On the vault, VanBelkum and Donley led the group with scores of 9.0 and 8.7 respectively. Sophomore Casey Buelken had a strong run that earned an 8.6.

Noffsinger and VanBelkum were both honored by being nominated for All Conference. Donley took Honorable Mention.

Next up for the gymnasts is the regional competition to be held at Kenowa Hills on March 6, with the state finals being held at Rockford on March 12 and 13.

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Rams advance to state team wrestling tournament

Rockford sends seven to individual state competition

by TIM COOPER

Jake Banaszak squares off with Lowell's Connor Cruse in the 285-pound match during team regionals at Kentwood on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Photo by JIM COOPER

In the opening round of the team regional competition, Rockford faced a familiar foe when they wrestled the Wildcats of Jenison. Rockford had beaten Jenison 42-19 in a dual meet in the middle of December.

The Rams continued to show their dominance over the Wildcats, winning nine of 14 matches and racking up a 48-21 team score to advance to the finals where they faced the number-one-ranked Lowell Red Arrows. Lowell advanced by beating West Ottawa on their side of the bracket.

In the finals, Zach Banaszak (189) fell in a 14-5 decision to Lowell’s Ryan Olep, giving Lowell an early 4-0 team lead.

Jake Scholten wrestles

Jake Scholten wrestles Brandon Shuart of Davison in the individual regional finals held at Saginaw Heritage High School on Saturday, Feb. 20. Photo by JIM COOPER

At 215 pounds, Rockford’s Joe Stefanski wrestled district champion Gabe Dean (189). Dean, who had moved up one weight class, was trying to upset Stefanski. In a match that went four periods with a tied score at 4-4, Stefanski and Dean wrestled for the takedown. With three seconds remaining in overtime, Stefanski used a double-leg takedown, scoring two points and winning in sudden victory.

The 285-pound match was one Lowell was expected to win. Most pundits across the state had Lowell’s Connor Cruse pinning the much smaller Banaszak. Banaszak kept the match close for the full six minutes, but fell in a 4-2 decision, giving the Red Arrows a 7-3 team score lead.

oe Stefanski escapes from Prescot Line of Oxford in the regional finals. 	Photo by JIM COOPER

Joe Stefanski escapes from Prescot Line of Oxford in the regional finals. Photo by JIM COOPER

Tyler VanRooyen pinned his opponent in 55 seconds, giving the Rams the first lead of the night, 9-7. With bonus points at a minimum in this dual meet, VanRooyen’s pin would prove to be the only pin of the evening for either team.

The big surprise of the evening for Lowell was seeing Rockford’s “Chubbs” Johnson walk to the mat for the 112-pound match. Johnson, who has been injured most of the season, was excited to be back in action. Building an 11-2 lead after the first period, Johnson cruised through the next two periods, building a 16-7 lead after six minutes. Johnson’s major decision gave the Rams a 13-7 advantage over the Arrows.

Rockford’s “magnificent seven” state qualifiers from Saturday, Feb. 20, will wrestle for the state championship the first weekend of March. 	Photo by JIM COOPER

Rockford’s “magnificent seven” state qualifiers from Saturday, Feb. 20, will wrestle for the state championship the first weekend of March. Photo by JIM COOPER

Lowell proved that they deserve the number one ranking by climbing back into the dual meet at the 119-pound match, where the Red Arrows’ Calvin Meyer defeated Rockford’s Chris Barrentine with a 14-6 major decision.

The team score going into the 125-pound match was 13-11, Rockford. District champion Jake Scholten won a 5-1 decision over Lowell’s Matt Griffioen, increasing the Ram lead 16-11.

Tyler VanRooyen gets his hand raised after pinning his Lowell opponent in the team regional tournament at Kentwood. 	Photo by JIM COOPER

Tyler VanRooyen gets his hand raised after pinning his Lowell opponent in the team regional tournament at Kentwood. Photo by JIM COOPER

At the 130-pound weight class, two district champions faced off. Jake Byers, Rockford’s 125-pound champion, jumped up one weight class to face Lowell’s champion Jake Fillingham. Byers struck first, opening with a takedown. Before Byers gained further advantage, Fillingham escaped. Again Byers took his opponent to the mat as the first period ended. Byers achieved two more takedowns in the second period, building to an 8-3 advantage. In the third, Rockford’s champion scored on a reversal, then released Fillingham for an escape, only to take the Lowell wrestler back to the mat for a final score of 12-4. With Byers’ major decision, the Rams’ advantage increased to 20-11.

At 135 pounds, district champion Gabe Morse of Lowell defeated Rockford’s Drew Scogg 15-6 using a series of takedowns and releases to score the victory. This helped Lowell to close the gap with five matches remaining.

At 140 pounds, Rockford’s regional qualifying Austin Scogg defeated Jacob Gould in a 4-2 decision to increase the gap 23-15.

In a surprising move, Lowell’s Coach Dave Dean brought Dan Fleet down from his customary 152 pounds to try to produce a more favorable match-up against reserve wrestler Peter Nugent. Nugent showed how deep the Rockford lineup is and his own personal toughness as he kept attacking after losing a tooth during this match. Eventually Fleet proved to be too much for Nugent, winning the match by major decision, 18-4.

For the second time this season, Rockford’s Bruce Carlstrom wrestled Andrew Morse of Lowell. In their first meeting earlier in the season, Morse won the match with a technical fall and a score of 20-5. Lowell may have been expecting a similar outcome, but were proven wrong. Carlstrom showed true determination in the spirit of the Rams in his 4-0 loss. The five points Morse was not able to take from Carlstrom could have made a difference in the outcome of the dual meet.

With two matches remaining, Lowell had pulled to within one point of the Rams. The 160-pound match saw a rematch of the district finals between Jackson Morse of Lowell and Rockford’s Jake Johnson. Morse won the first tilt 7-2 and was hoping to increase the margin and score bonus points for the Red Arrows. Johnson gave up the first takedown to Morse early in the first period and found himself trailing 2-0 at the beginning of the second.

Morse chose the down position to start the second period and added another point when he escaped from Johnson. The third period found both wrestlers on their feet, as Johnson chose to start using the neutral position. Despite numerous attacks by Morse, Johnson defended well and attempted to start his own offense. The match ended with both wrestlers remaining on their feet and Morse giving the Red Arrows a 3-0 decision and a 25-3 lead going into the final match of the night.

 Zach Banaszak attempts to escape from Lowell’s Ryan Olep in the opening match of Rockford’s showdown with the Red Arrows. 	Photo by JIM COOPER

Zach Banaszak attempts to escape from Lowell’s Ryan Olep in the opening match of Rockford’s showdown with the Red Arrows. Photo by JIM COOPER

By Lowell failing to receive bonus points at 152 pounds and 160 pounds, the Ram faithful knew that the regional championship was theirs for the taking.

Jake Dorulla (171), the undefeated district champion, finished the deal by dominating Keith Williams with a 12-1 major decision. This gave the Rams a 27-25 victory and a trip to Battle Creek for the state team championships.

“We controlled the match tonight. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Lowell and the great program they have,” said Coach Brian Richardson. “Our key to winning was getting the bonus points. Our seniors wrestled well. They really came through tonight. Partway through the 145-pound match, Peter Nugent lost a tooth, but he still stayed with it. I hope we honored the great sport of wrestling and gave Grand Rapids wrestling fans everything they wanted tonight.”

At Saginaw Heritage High School on Saturday, nine Rockford wrestlers looked to punch their tickets to the individual state championships held at the Palace of Auburn Hills starting Thursday through Saturday, March 4-6. Though Rockford had nine start the day, only seven advanced.

Stefanski wrestled Prescot Line of Oxford in the regional championship. Stefanski had defeated Line 8-3 at Detroit Catholic Central and 3-1 in the Rockford tournament earlier this season. Stefanski remained undefeated by beating Line 6-3 in the third match-up of these highly touted 215-pound wrestlers.

VanRooyen faced Keegan Cantara of Oxford in the 103-pound finals. VanRooyen fell 8-0 to Cantara, finishing second, but still advancing to the state finals.

Scholten (119) defeated Davison’s Brandon Shuart 5-3, winning his championship match.

Byers won a tough 9-7 decision over Terry Turner for his second regional championship. Byers remains undefeated on the season and is the top-ranked 125-pound wrestler in all divisions in the state of Michigan.

For the third time in seven days, Rockford’s Jake Johnson squared off against Lowell’s Jackson Morse. For the third time in seven days, Morse defeated Johnson. With a 7-1 decision Johnson placed second, but is still in the hunt for the elusive state championship.

The final championship wrestler for Rockford was the 171-pound undefeated Dorulla. For the second time in seven days, Dorulla defeated Lowell’s Ryan Olep, this time with a 3-2 decision, winning his second regional championship. This advances Dorulla to the Palace of Auburn Hills, where he should be the favorite to win a second individual title.

The seventh Ram wrestler to advance is sophomore A. Scogg (135), who finished fourth in the region.

Next up for the Rams is a trip to Battle Creek on Friday, Feb. 26, where they will join the other regional champions to decide the state team championship on Saturday, Feb. 27.

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Ram skaters win over Muskegon CC

The Rockford Rams varsity hockey team won a well-deserved overtime victory against the Crusaders of Muskegon Catholic Central on Tuesday night, Feb. 16, at Lakeshore Arena in Muskegon.

The Crusaders put the first point on the board with 13:19 left in the first period while on the power play. Although the Rams took another penalty later in the period with 2:15 left, the Rams’ penalty kill unit managed to keep it 1-0 Crusaders.

Period two saw penalties coming and going from both teams. The Rams, with a five-on-three power play advantage, fired back at the 7:54 mark as senior forward Cody Cantu found the back of the Crusaders’ net, assisted by junior forward Thomas Soupal. This made it a 1-1 contest.

Barely 47 seconds later, the Rams struck again, when senior forward Jake Chaffee scored at the 7:07 mark, putting the Rams up 2-1. Assisting Chaffee on the score was senior forward Eric Conroy and junior defenseman Mike VanderVelde. Unfortunately the Crusaders struck back with 1:02 left, to close the period at 2-2.

The third period saw both teams come out for the win with hard skating, great goaltending and good physical play. However, overtime was right around the corner, with period three ending at 2-2.

Overtime was fast and furious as the Rams started one man down on the penalty kill. After the Rams successfully killed it off, it was time for Muskegon Catholic Central to take a penalty, and they did just that, allowing junior forward Eric Datema to clinch the Ram victory with a nice power play goal at the 4:57 mark. Assisting Datema on the game sealer was senior defensemen Robert Perry and Chaffee.

Kudos must be given to junior net-minder Taylor Newton for a stellar performance, as the Crusaders put 30 shots on net versus 26 for the Rams.

The Rams’ next contest is Wednesday, Feb. 24, against the Kentwood Falcons at Walker Ice & Fitness Center. Game time is 7:00 p.m.

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