The men’s and women’s cross-country teams are fresh off their dual WHAC titles and are now prepping for the NAIA National Championships in Fort Vancouver, Wash. next week. The WHAC handed out its post-season honors after the conference championships, and the Saints were well represented by both genders. On the women’s side, Catie Rietsema of Rockford placed in the top seven of the race to earn All-WHAC First Team honors. Jackie Katt of Rockford earned Academic All-WHAC accolades. Head Coach Mike Wojciakowski received both the WHAC Men’s & Women’s Coach of the Year award. Aquinas College, an inclusive educational community rooted in the Catholic Dominican tradition, provides a liberal arts education with a global perspective, emphasizes career preparation focused on leadership and service to others, and fosters a commitment to lifelong learning dedicated to the pursuit of truth and the common good. Approximately 350 student-athletes represent Aquinas College in 19 different intercollegiate athletic activities. The Saints are affiliated with the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center serves as the hub of the Aquinas College Athletic Department, while Riverside Park, Houseman Field, Kimble Field, Fuller Park, The Highlands and Scott Lake Country Club provide the backdrop for other Aquinas College home contests.
Aquinas College is proud to announce that Catie Rietsema, from Rockford High School, will continue her running career as a Saint. The former All State performer has led the Rams to four top six finishes at the MHSAA Division I state cross country meet, including a third-place finish during her senior season. Rietsema has a personal best of 18:30 on the cross course and career bests on the track of 5:19 (one mile) and 11:28 (two miles). Coach Mike Wojciakowski stated, “Catie comes from a tradition-rich program that focuses on team success. I believe she is an excellent addition to our core group of runners which is being formed here at Aquinas College. Catie has the ability and the work ethic to make an immediate impact on our team.”
The Lady Rams of Rockford claimed the regional championship in cross country this past weekend for the second year in a row. Currently ranked number two in the state, the Lady Rams took home the victory over number-three-ranked Traverse City Central (TCC) and number-one-ranked Grand Haven in addition to the other 12 teams in the field. The Rams posted a score of 44 to outdistance the TCC Trojans, who scored 55, and the Grand Haven Buccaneers, who scored 63. “We ran really well today,” stated Rockford’s Coach Ben Watson. “We have lost to Grand Haven four times this year, but the girls remained confident in their training and their talents and it paid off today. This victory is really gratifying.” The Lady Rams were powered by a third-fourth-fifth finish from Taylor Manett, Catie Rietsema and Jane Hawks, who posted times of 19:00, 19:09 and 19:21 respectively. Sawyer Rocheleau claimed All Regional honors along with the top three by claiming 14th place in a time of 20:01. Jordan Vickery rounded out the scoring in placing 18th with a 20:16, as Anna Bos (20th) and Allison Hazy (24th) finished the team effort in 20:20 and 20:32 respectively. “It was certainly a team victory. We lost by two points a week ago to Grand Haven and talked about how if any girl could have just passed one more opponent we could get ahead of them. Each of our seven took it upon themselves to get the job done, and it showed today by them earning the victory,” stated Watson. The Rams placed well in the open race, where Morgan Harney claimed top honors in racing a 20:20 while Sam Anderson claimed sixth in 21:11. The Rams will compete for the state championship Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Michigan International Speedway with the race time being 3:00 p.m. Rockford has placed no worse than sixth over the past 12 years with five state championships and two state runner-up finishes, including last season’s.
The number-three-ranked Lady Rams cross-country team finished with a strong second place at the Portage Invitational where seven of the top 10 ranked Division I teams competed. The Rams were edged by number-one-ranked Grand Haven by four points and outdistanced number-two-ranked Traverse City Central, to whom they had previously lost on two occasions. Juniors Jane Hawks and Sawyer Rocheleau led the effort by placing 11th and 15th respectively. Seniors Catie Rietsema, Anna Bos and Allison Hazy placed 18th, 26th and 45th to conclude the scoring. Sophomore Jordan Vickery and junior Sam Anderson finished the placing in 76th and 116th place. “We ran pretty well today, but not our best,” stated Coach Watson. “We lost by about 45 points four weeks ago to Grand Haven, so we have come a long way in only losing by four points today. We will be racing them four more times before the end of the season, so we just need to keep improving.”