The Rams landed a resounding first-place finish against Jenison and Hudsonville on Wednesday, Oct. 6, followed by a solid sixth-place finish in the Division I boys race at the Portage Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 9. The Wednesday triple meet was held at Johnson Park. Conditions for running were almost perfect at the grassy, wooded, spectator-friendly course. Both varsity and JV teams ran, giving everyone a chance to score points for their teams. On Saturday, the Rams traveled to Portage to compete along with 7,000 other runners from across the state. Rockford’s sixth-place team ranking was among 40 total Division I men’s teams. The varsity Rams were led by sophomore Drew Woznick—the fastest sophomore in the varsity Division I race—with a time of 16:33 in a medal-winning place of 22nd, followed by senior Spencer Gerber in 23rd place with a time of 16:38. Also forming a medal-winning pack were varsity team members senior Devon Liu (16:56 in 43rd place) followed by Steven Ek (16:57 in 44th place). Rounding off varsity in 71st place was sophomore Austin Benoit (17:21), sophomore Chris Coles (112th, 17:44), and sophomore Casey Aman (125th, 17:49). JV boys made an impact with five team members in the top 30. These Rams included senior Mike Greko in third place with a time of 17:34, senior Eric Parsell in fifth place (17:39), senior Nate MacQueen (13th, 17:58), junior Connor Jewell (26th, 18:15), and junior Tyler Harney (29th, 18:16). Also of note was Matt Albano, whose time of 18:38 ranked him as the seventh fastest freshman runner for the JV boys.
Rockford defeated Grand Haven last Monday, Oct. 11, in an OK conference boys water polo match. The Rams are now a perfect 7-0 in the conference with one only more game to play. And, because undefeated Jenison was upset by Grandville last week, the Rams are guaranteed at least a share of the conference title. Rockford (31-6 overall) has now won or shared the title for an amazing 18 years in a row! To put that in perspective, the last time someone other than the Rams won the OK conference was 1992, the year a little-known Arkansas Governor named Bill Clinton was running for president against George H.W. Bush. Dave McWatters, now in his 13th year as head coach of the Rams, has built an impressive program that consistently produces strong teams. “We strive to be in the thick of things every year,” said McWatters. “Other teams seem to rise and fall based on a good class or two moving through. But we’ve tried to build a foundation that allows us to be competitive year in and year out.” The Grand Haven game illustrated McWatters’ point. The Buccaneers were regional champions last year, but have struggled to perform at the same level this year, having lost their top players to graduation. The Bucs came to town Monday night and were able to keep the game close in the first period, but the Rams’ depth and strength was simply too much for them. Rockford rolled to a 15-4 victory. The Rams’ balance was on display—seven different players scored goals, nine contributed assists, and 15 Rams combined for 32 steals. Junior Nathan Napolillo led the way with a tremendous all-around effort: five goals, two assists, and five steals. Rockford now hosts Jenison (6-1 in the conference) in the final regular season game of the year on Tuesday, Oct. 19. A Jenison win would give the Wildcats a share of the conference title. But a Rockford win would make the Rams the outright champs. “Jenison beat us in a tournament early in the year,” recalled junior Alex Savage. “Ever since then, we’ve been looking forward to facing them in our pool in this final game of the season.” According to McWatters, “Everything in recent weeks has been building […]
Rockford parents were on the edge of their seats Thursday, Oct. 14, as they watched the girls swim team face conference strongman West Ottawa. The Rams only placed first in two of the 12 events—the 50-yard free by Jamie Van Portfliet and the 100-yard butterfly by Sarah Smith—but the team’s depth still earned enough points to keep the Rams in the game to the very last relay event. The Rams started off trailing West Ottawa by eight points after the initial 200-yard medley relay as the A relay squad of Morgan Longberg, Rachel Romain, S. Smith and Kennedy Cutler only placed second. The team fell further behind in the 200-yard free, with Adrianna Craft finishing third, Alaina Smith fourth, Lexy Caster sixth, and Emily Smith seventh. But in the 200-yard medley, the Rams were able to add more points to their column by S. Smith placing second, Morgan Lipe fourth, Romain fifth, and Kara Vandawater sixth. In the 50 free, they pulled even closer to West Ottawa, with Van Portfliet taking one of the two first-place finishes, as well as Casey Wolfer taking fourth, Cutler fifth, and Lauren Girard sixth. Rockford’s divers pulled the teams even by Macie Degraaf placing second, Katie DeHaan third, Erica Finlayson fourth, and Maggie Setterington fifth. S. Smith took first in the 100-yard butterfly. With teammates A. Smith (third), Madison Trimble (fourth) and Taylor Downs (fifth), she pulled the team to 11 points ahead of the Panthers. But the lead wasn’t enough to keep Rockford ahead, as the Rams came up with less points than the Panthers in the next five events. In the 100-yard free, VanPortfliet finished second, Wolfer took fifth, Longberg sixth and E. Smith seventh. In the 500-yard free, Caster took third, Girard fourth, Craft fifth and Kayla Kidder seventh. Rockford’s A relay (Cutler, S. Smith, Wolfer, Van Portfliet) and B relay (A. Smith, E. Smith, Craft, Caster) finished second and third in the 200-yard free. Longberg placed third in the 100-yard backstroke, supported by Vandawater (fourth), Downs (sixth) and Rachel Fredricks (seventh). Cutler took third in the 100-yard breaststroke, followed by Romain (fourth), Lipe (fifth) and Sloan Ouellette (seventh). By the final 400 relay, West Ottawa was back ahead by seven points. To win the meet, the […]
by Chris Cruickshank Some of the participants in the Wednesday, Oct. 13 boys cross-country race weren’t even born in 1996 when the Rockford High School boys cross-county team lost their last dual meet. But something has to give when two unbeaten squads clash, and unfortunately, it was the Rams’ record. The Grand Haven Buccaneers took first, third and a tightly contested fourth place, which was enough for the team victory. Spencer Gerber led the way for the Rams, taking second place with a time of 16:27. He was followed by teammates Drew Woznick, Austin Benoit and Devon Liu, who took fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively. The loss raises the stakes of the October 22 conference meet, where the Rams will try to maintain their 15-year strangle hold on the OK Red league title. The Rams quickly returned to their winning ways on Saturday, Oct. 16, taking team first place at the Kent County Invitational. Once again, Gerber was the first Ram across the finish line with a time of 16:06, which was good enough for second place. Six other Rams finished the 3.1-mile course under 16:47, including Woznick, Liu, Casey Aman, Chris Coles, Steven Ek and Benoit. In the junior varsity race, Rockford dominated by taking nine of the top 15 places. Evan Bruin took first place, followed by Grant Aman (second), Nate MacQueen (third), Tyler Harney (fourth), Marc Lehman (sixth), Andrew Pitcher (eighth), Cam Fasel, (11th), Mark Cruickshank (13th) and Mike Greko (15th). On Friday, Oct. 22, the Rams return to Grand Haven to defend their OK Red league championship at the conference meet.
‘Every day Tate is here, North Rockford Middle School is a better place’ Tate is the son of Stephanie and John Bates and James Lewis. He is a person who never gives up or thinks he cannot accomplish something. This student follows his heart and always shows kindness. His peers and the staff at North Rockford Middle School appreciate his unique sense of humor. Tate is caring to others and asks people how they are. He is very concerned about the well-being of those around him. He is always willing to help other students who may be struggling. “Every day Tate is here, North Rockford Middle School is a better place,” his teachers say of him. Tate shows a positive attitude in all he does and has a “never say die” attitude. Tate is described as sensitive, inquisitive, considerate and kind. His cheerful attitude and optimism in thinking the best of others make him enjoyable to be around. Also a good student, Tate has earned the Principal’s Honor Roll every marking period and was selected to be a Northern Lights tutor and mentor. He enjoys football where he works hard to be his best and is a strong team player. He is also a tennis player, and he goes out of his way to help those less skilled. Tate is also involved in the activities of Rockford United Methodist Church. Tate is a student who works hard to achieve his best, but never hesitates to help others. He has an overwhelming love for his family and wants to please them with his success. Staff at North Rockford Middle School believe Tate’s strength of character and his belief in the goodness of others make him an Example in Excellence at North Rockford Middle School.