Rams go undefeated in OK dual meet

Ram Wrestlers finish strong in OK Red

By Tim Cooper

Austin Scogg on his way to victory against Grandville's Dominic Barrencon on Wednesday, February 3. Photo by JIM COOPER

For the seventh straight year, the Rams wrestling team was undefeated in conference dual meet competition. The final victim in the string was the Grandville Bulldogs on Wednesday, February 3.

Leading the Ram charge was the 103-pound Tyler VanRooyen who defeated Dakota Torralva with an 8-4 decision, giving the Rams an early 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs tied the score at 112 pounds when Nick Reddy scored a 6-2 decision over Rockford’s Nate Rojas. The Rams took the lead for good when the Bulldogs forfeited the 119 match to Rockford’s Jake Scholten, giving a team score of 9-3.

Conference champions Jake Scholten, 119; Jake Johnson, 171; Jake Byers, 125; Joe Stefanski, 215; Tyler VanRooyen, 103; and Jake Banaszak, 285. Photo by JIM COOPER

Grandville’s Tyler Maczinski defeated Rockford’s Chris Barrentine in the 125-pound match with a 7-0 decision. At 130 pounds, Rockford’s Jake Byers pinned Brad Norman of Grandville in 1:21, giving the Rams a 15-6 lead.

Again the pesky Bulldogs cut into the Ram  margin at 135 pounds when Austin Merryweather defeated Drew Scogg 7-2. Austin Scogg, 140, used the bulk of his six minutes before pinning Dominick Barrencon, giving the Rams a 21-9 margin. At 145, Brian Ellis, of Rockford, up from the B team, fell to David Rivera in 1:22 by pin, to keep the match close with a team score of 21-15.

Bruce Carlstrom, 152, took a 4-1 lead after the first period and used just 56 seconds of the second period before pinning Grandville’s Tim Sides. Robbie Gorton added three more points to the Rockford total with a 4-1 decision over Trevor Sousley, allowing the Rams to double the Bulldog score and create a 30-15 margin.

Undefeated Jake Dorulla, 171, wrestled the full six minutes with Colton Hunt and walked away with a 12-0 shutout and a major decision. Once again Jake Johnson, wrestling up two weight classes at 189 pounds, wrestled one of Grandville’s best in Caleb Rivera. In a match that saw little scoring through six minutes, the two went into overtime with a 1-1 score. Twently-three seconds into overtime, Rivera threw Johnson from his feet to his back and pinned him with 6:23 and adding six to the Grandville team score, 34-21.

In one of the few times all season Joe Stefanski would not wrestle, Zack Banaszak took to the mat in the 215-pound match facing Grandville’s Dylan Bergenbower. Banaszak dominated his opponent, winning a 15-0 technical fall. In the final match of the evening, Jake Banaszak faced Islan Quick. This match ended quickly as Banaszak used 18 seconds to leash his Dawg.

Coach Richardson said he thought all the boys wrestled well. “All season long we’ve had kids rise to the occasion. Even though he lost, Jake Johnson has done this every week. He usually gives up 20 pounds to his opponent. He never complains about it and he never backs down.”

“The seniors on this team are an amazing group of kids. They have gone undefeated in dual meets all four years here at Rockford.”

On Saturday, February 6, Rockford again traveled to Grandville, this time for the conference tournament knowing they needed to finish at least second in this tournament in order to win conference championship for the seventh straight year.

At 103, Tyler VanRooyen again wrestled Dakota Torralva. This time it was for the conference championship. VanRooyen used 1:59 before pinning Torralva and grabbing his first conference title. At 119, Jake Scholten used 2:20 to build a 15-0 lead over Austin Steine of Jenison and win his conference championship by technical fall.

In the 125 finals, Jake Byers wrestled Grandville’s Tyler Maczinski. Maczinski went the distance with Byers, however, Byers walked away the champion with a 16-4 major decision. At 135, sophomore Austin Scogg took a 1-0 lead into the third period with Jension’s Doug Furness. Furness scored five points in the third, stealing the championship from Scogg.

Senior Jake Johnson, 171, scored take-down after take-down on West Ottawa’s Joey McClure. Johnson put in a dominant performance, winning his fourth conference championship with a 23-10 major decision. Johnson joins some elite company as only five other wrestlers in Rockford history have done this.

In one of the shortest matches of the day, Joe Stefanski wrestled in the 215-pound championship against Grand Haven’s Dylan Radde. Stefanski dispatched the Buccaneer in .54 with a fall. At 285, Zack Banaszak went toe-to-toe with Hudsonville’s Drew Jackson. Trailing late in the match 3-2, Banaszak scored five points in the last 20 seconds to achieve his dream of a conference championship.

Because of the six conference champions, and five placers, the Rams won their seventh straight OK Red championship. Coach Brian Richardson said, “I feel blessed to be their coach. I am humbled by their effort today. I’m very proud of all of my kids.”

Next up for the Rams is individual districts held at  Grand Haven on Saturday, February 13, and a possible rematch with Lowell at team regionals held at Kentwood on February 17 if the Rams advance out of their district in Traverse City on Wednesday, February 10.

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Rockford Lady Rams basketball team move’s to top of OK-Red conference

Kimberly Weston Drives the lane looking to pass to an open player.


Oh my,……. how these Rockford fans love their Lady Rams. How could you not when they refuse to give up or give in. Last Tuesday the Rams found a new way to win. East Kentwood traveled to Rockford for a conference match up. The Falcons began the contest with a full court press then switched into man defense on their way to an early 8-16 advantage by the end of the first quarter. Kentwood hit the boards furiously taking numerous second and third chance shots while limiting the Rams to only one shot per trip. During the second quarter The Rams tightened up defensively scoring ten points while holding the Falcons to only six. Kentwood’s shot selection became somewhat dubious and by intermission Rockford had closed the gap, trailing 18-22.

During the second half Rockford struggled to find their shooting touch but continued to hold Kentwood at bay defensively. The Falcons scored only seven third quarter points. Refusing to go away Rockford finished out the third quarter down 26-29. Now the excitement began to build as The Lady Rams made their move. Midway through the fourth quarter, a Ram steal and pass to Kimberly Weston for an open three pointer put the Rams on the move. The game was far from over when Caitlyn Patterson was fouled with 2:15 left on the clock. Patterson calmly stepped to the line, making two “nothing but net” pressure foul shots tying the game 32-32. With 16 seconds remaining Kentwood made a charity shot from the line going ahead 33-32. Rockford turned the ball over with 10.4 seconds on the clock. Kentwood called time out to set up an in bounds play. Kentwood’s Dobbins was immediately fouled on the in bounds pass. Dobbins foul shot rimed out into Rockford’s hands. Rams Coach Jessica Yonkers signaled time out with 6.5 seconds left setting up the Rams last chance play. The ball was in bounded to Kimberly Weston who worked her way down the length of the court pulling up 12 feet from the basket, her shot banged around the iron and with no time on the clock found it’s way through, Rockford wins 34-33. 

 Scoring for Rockford: Al Huyser 7, Halle Peterson 7,Kimberly Weston 5, Megan Kelley 5, Caitlyn Patterson 4, Rachael Henry 4 and Karli Showers 2. From the charity line the Rams were 7/10 while the Falcons were 11/15. East Kentwood coach Lori Young said ” We need to learn how to win, we’re a young team and improving we just need to learn how to finish. Our team became rattled near the end, we’ll improve”

As the season nears the back stretch the Lady Rams improve their record to (6-2)(11-2).

On Friday February 5th, Rockford’s Lady Rams took a long bus ride over to West Ottawa Friday night needing a win to match the Panthers atop the OK-Red Conference. The league leading Panthers were waiting with a home crowd packed to the rafters. It was “All Out Pink Out” the Panthers and their supporters were dressed in pink with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. The stage had been set as the Rams were to face not only league leading West Ottawa but a hostile environment.

The Rams held their composure in spite of the rancorous surroundings taking a 12-8 advantage in the first quarter. Rockford’s outside shooting was cold throughout the first half matched only by West Ottawa’s poor foul shooting going only 2 of 9 from the line. Defensively The Rams would not allow West Ottawa any easy shots inside or from long range. Rockford took a 22-16 half time lead to the locker room along with three Rams in foul trouble.

The third quarter became the Megan Kelley show in a game not for the faint of heart as she put up (11) of her game high (15) points hitting all outside baskets. Kelley received help from Caitlyn Patterson’s (9) points.  Seniors Allison Huyser (8) and Kate Huyser (7). Sophomore Kimberly Weston playing point guard and forward at times, totaled (13) hitting 8 for 8 from the foul line. Sophomore Rachel Henry chipped in with (2) in the first half.

Rockford out scored the Panthers 17-12 in the third quarter leading 39-28. With 4:50 remaining in the game the Rams were 13 points ahead only to see their advantage dwindle to only 5 points with 2:10 left on the game clock. The Panthers forced into fouling, in an effort to gain ball possession made a fatal mistake as once again the Rams delivered going 19 for 22 (86%) from the line.

Rockford held on defeating West Ottawa 54-47 pulling into a tie with the Panthers for the OK-Red Conference lead (7-2). Three Panthers were in double figures Trammell 10, Bustillos 13 and Overway 12. Afterwards Panthers Coach Jonathon Goei showing disappointment said ” That is a very good team we played tonight. Very tough team Rockford, we played with effort and talent but we seemed to lack the heart to get the job done”.

The Lady Rams (12-2) (7-2) travel Tuesday, February 9 to Grandville for a 7 p.m. tip off with the Bulldogs.

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Rockford skiers finish first at Caberfae

 Ben Avink skies to a sixth place finish at Cabrfae.


Ben Avink skies to a sixth place finish at Cabrfae.


Rockford High School downhill ski racers completed their regular season with a race at the steeper, longer slopes of Caberfae on Jan. 29 and the final race at Cannonsburg on February 2.  In the end, Rockford boys’ team finished in first place in both events, well ahead of the favored East Grand Rapids boys’ team and last year’s conference champion, Grand Haven.  It was a combination of strong individual finishes and the depth of the team that allowed RHS to claim these results.  RHS boys consistently had all of their team finishing in the top 20.

Team results for the last 2 races of the season were as follows:

Caberfae Boys Race
1st—Rockford – 64 points
2nd—Forest Hills Central – 109
3rd—East Grand Rapids – 114
4th—Forest Hills Northern – 117
5th—Grand Haven – 185 
Cannonsburg Boys Race
1st—Rockford – 65 points
2nd—Forest Hills Central – 122 points
3rd—East Grand Rapids – 137 points
4th—Forest Hills Northern – 149 points
5th—Grand Haven – 174 points
Caberfae Girls’ Race
1st—Grand Haven – 66 points
2nd—Forest Hills Central – 94 points
3rd—KHLCP – 126
4th—Forest Hills Northern – 146 points
5th—East Grand Rapids – 176
6th— Rockford – 201
Cannonsburg Girls’ Race
1st—Grand Haven – 61 points
2nd—Forest Hills Northern – 103 points
3rd—Rockford – 127 points
4th—Forest Hills Central – 137 points

John Milewski took fifth with a time of 51.95.


The Caberfae race was cold and windy, as usual, and was very challenging, even for the top racers, with several falls and mishaps due to the tougher conditions.  Rockford boys were able to show the strength of their team with a top place finish overall. Their strongest showing was in the slalom event with all 6 racers in the top 20.  Michael Dix led the scoring with a first place finish with an overall time of 49.80, nearly a full second ahead of the 2nd place racer. Rounding out the scoring
for Rockford was John Milewski in 5th (51.95), Ben Avink 6th (52.08) and Taylor Noakes 7th (53.15). Travis Fleming finished in 10th place (56.14) and Casey Hefferan in 18th (59.69). A perfect team score is 10 and Rockford scored 19 in the event.  In the GS event, Avink led the team with a 5th place finish and an overall time of 1:00.48.  Dix placed 8th (1:02.05), Milewski 13th (1:04.93) and Fleming 21st (1:06.87).  Noakes and Hefferan also competed. 

Bethany Hicks.


The girls’ top racer at Caberfae was Carly Funk, with a 2nd place finish in slalom (54.70) and a 22nd place finish in GS (1:20.30).  The girls’ scoring was rounded out by Emily Macauley in 21st in slalom and 27th in GS, Kaiti Bartholomy in 35th in slalom, Bethany Hicks 41st in slalom and 24th in GS, and Ashley Rister 29th in GS. 

At the Cannonsburg race, Rockford’s boys finished nearly 60 points ahead of the second place team.  For the third race in a row, in the slalom event Michael Dix finished in 1st place with a combined time of 1:00.05.  John Milewski finished in 5th place (1:01.83), Ben Avink in 8th (1:03.00) and Casey Hefferan in 13th (1:06.17).  Outside of scoring range, but with strong finishes were Tyler Manikowski in 17th (1:06.61), and Taylor Noakes in 25th (1:09.90).   In the GS event, Avink finished 4th (55.23), Dix 5th (55.45), Manikowski 10th (56.44), and Noakes 19th (58.05). Travis Fleming and Michael Kommer also raced GS. 

For the girls, Julie Daukss also finished first in slalom with a combined time of 1:03.61.  Carly Funk finished 3rd (1:06.50), Bethany Hicks finished 20th(1:16.19) and Kaiti Bartholomy finished 27th (1:20.77).  Also with strong finishes, but outside of scoring range were Emily Macauley in 34th (1:25.20) and Emily Kommer in 35th (1:25.26). In the GS event Daukss finished 3rd (56.80), Funk 4th (57.89), Hicks 34th (1:06.52) and Kommer 35th (1:06.66).  Outside of scoring range was Macauley in 38th (1:06.91), and Ashley Rister in 41st (1:07.97).

Both teams move onto Regionals at the steeper, more challenging slopes of Marquette Mountain on Thursday, Feb. 11th

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Rockford rugby sign ups and practices

Sign ups and practices are starting for all three Rockford rugby programs.  The high school men’s team have started practice for year 13.  Please check the rugby site www.ramrugby.net for practice times & locations. 

Women’s High School Rugby will start practice on Wednesday, February 24 at 6 p.m. at Roguewood Elementary Gym.  If you are interested in playing the only full contact game for high school women, please be at practice before 6 p.m. to collect information and sign up forms. More information can be found at www.ramrugby.net then the women’s rugby page.

Youth rugby has started sign ups.  You may sign up at Rockford Community Education office or call 616-863-6322 or email Kirk Gent at kirk.gent at yahoo.com. This will be our sixth season of youth rugby and will be playing games with Forest Hills.  sixth, seventh and eighth-grades is a boys full contact rugby game. The program is designed to teach the fundamentals with safety as our first priority. Practices start on Monday March 15 at 6 p.m. at Roguewood Elementary Gym.  second, third, fourth and fifth-grades is a coed non contact rugby game. This program is designed to teach rugby without contact. Practices will begin on Tuesday March 23 at 6 p.m. at Roguewood Elementary Gym. All players are involved in the game with little down time—in other words, not much standing around time. More information can be found at www.ramrugby.net then the youth rugby page.

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Close meet, but not in West Ottawa’s favor

Rockford 173, West Ottawa 142

By Denise Webb

Sophomore Daniel Newberger earns points for his team finishing sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:07.75.

Sophomore Daniel Newberger earns points for his team finishing sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:07.75.

Numerous times throughout the Rockford vs. West Ottawa swim/dive meet on February 4 at the Rams’ natatorium, fans had to rely on the touchpad results reflected on the scoreboard to determine who won the event. The finishes were often visibly difficult to determine, but the Rams pulled away with a 173 to 142 victory.

More often than not, the events were won by less than a second, and that’s exactly how the meet began.

The relay team of Derik Bothma, Alex Devries, Brian Ginebaugh and Josh Travis won the Rams’ first event—the 200-yard medley relay—by .51 seconds, finishing with an improved state qualifying time of 1:41.31. The third place finish was also captured by Rockford. Andrew Denhof, Ben Fredrickson, Jared Martella and Connor Thelen won by a mere .29 seconds (1:45.63). With this 1-3 finish, Rockford began the meet with a 13-5 lead.

Swimming the 200-yard freestyle relay, senior Rob Fugate waits for Michael Staley to finish before entering the water.

Even though Rockford fell behind after Event 2 (200-yard freestyle) to the Panthers’ renowned freestyle strength, the Rams quickly recouped in Event 3. Rockford’s Brian Ginebaugh, Jeff Schmitt, Josh Travis and Jared Martella placed 1-2-5-6, respectively, in the 200-yard IM, earning 19 of the possible 29 event points. This event edged the Rams back into the lead, which was never relinquished again.

Senior diver Tyler Johnson received a Rockford standing ovation and an abundance of cheers from fans and teammates after defeating West Ottawa’s number one diver Jordan Welling in the diving portion of the meet (Event 5). Johnson was the last competitor in this event, so Rockford’s fate in the diving portion was on his shoulders. While stepping onto the diving board for his last dive of the evening, Johnson knew he had to earn more than 38 points to defeat Welling’s 230.10 score. Tension was high as Johnson proceeded to do his twists and turns to complete his inward one and a half dive. As Johnson entered the waters with little splash after what appeared to be an amazing dive, an eerie silence fell over Rockford’s natatorium as everyone immediately looked to the scoreboard for the judges’ results. When the score of 7.0-7.5-7.0 flashed on the screen, Rockford’s team and fans couldn’t contain their excitement. This dive not only placed Johnson in first, but earned him a personal best score of 240.20 points.

Overall, Rockford’s divers outperformed West Ottawa with a 1-3-4-5 finish by Johnson, LJ McCauley, Kurt Plaggemars and Noah Markel, respectively.

Even though Rockford was ahead after the diving portion of the meet with a score of 75 to 59, the meet winner was still undetermined.

From Event 6 through the end of the meet, the finishes continued to remain extremely close, but Rockford prevailed by winning five of the six events in total points.

Freshman Andrew Bleeker propels his body through the water swimming the 100-yard butterfly.

Entering the twelfth and final event, the Rams had gained enough of a lead that the meet’s winner was determined at the conclusion of Event 11 after the amazing 1-3-4-6 finish by Brian Ginebaugh, Jared Martella, Daniel Newberger and Ian Rosloniec, respectively, in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Even though the meet ended with Rockford winning by more than 30 points, during any one event the score could have easily shifted, said assistant coach Dave McWatters. “One had to look beyond the score to see how competitive the meet was,” added McWatters.  

“It was a real mix of guys who helped win the meet tonight. People who were supposed to win didn’t, and people who weren’t expected to win did. We all pulled together though and won. That’s true teamwork,” said Bryan Wasberg.

In an email composed shortly after the meet, head coach Tom Parks couldn’t have summed up the evening better, “Great meet, gentlemen!”

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