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. • • •
February 25 2010
Rockford sends seven to individual state competition by TIM 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. 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. 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. 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 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.
by DENISE WEBB “It was one of the best nights of my life,” said a smiling senior Andrew Murray, as he exited Rockford’s natatorium February 18 after swimming his last high school dual meet. Murray had much to smile about that evening. The Rams swamped East Kentwood 192-116 in their final dual meet of the season, which landed the Rams in a three-way tie for the dual-meet season with West Ottawa and Grandville (5-1 record each). Also, Murray and nine other senior swimmers and one senior diver were recognized and honored for their combined 35 seasons of dedication to the sport. Of these 11 seniors, eight have been on the team since their freshman year, when Tom Parks became head swim coach for the men’s team. “It’s been a fast four years,” said Parks. During the past four years, several of these young men have won medals, swum state-qualifying times, placed at the state level, been added to the Grand Rapids Press top swimmers/divers of West Michigan list, and helped mold the team into a group of dedicated athletes. The seniors honored that night were Kevin Bors, Derik Bothma, Andrew Denhof, Alex Devries, Rob Fugate, Brian Ginebaugh, Tyler Johnson, Andrew Murray, Kyle Peterson, Ian Rosloniec and Connor Thelen. While some of these seniors will be hanging up their Speedos after graduation, others are continuing with the sport during their college years, including Bothma, Devries and Ginebaugh. Bothma plans to swim in college, but has not yet “signed on the dotted line.” He has had many successes during his time at Rockford High School. During his sophomore year, he received Most Improved Swimmer. For his junior year, he was awarded All Conference and was a state qualifier in the 50-, 100- and 500-yard freestyle, and was a member of the team that placed third in state in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Not quite through his senior season, he has already qualified for state in the 50- and 100- yard freestyle. The advice he leaves his teammates is, “Enjoy it, even though it’s hard. Commit and always give your best.” When asked to share a fond memory, Bothma quickly responded with Parks’ infamous saying, “Jump and unleash the rockets.” Devries plans to swim for Ramapo College of […]
Saturday, Feb. 20, the Rockford bowling teams finished off their OK Red conference season with the boys winning the post season tournament by just one pin (3,673-3,672) over Grandville boys at Fairlanes Lanes, Grandville’s home house. The tournament win, along with their 9-3 record in conference match play, helped the boys capture sole possession of the OK Red conference championship. At the conference tournament, the boys were led by seniors Aaron Dennis and Nick VanDrunen with 624 and 623 series. They will be sending three boys to the All Conference team: Nick VanDrunen (225 average) Derek Stites (207) and Aaron Dennis (204). The girls team ended up with second place at the weekend tournament with a total pin count of 3,272 just 16 pins behind first-place Grandville’s 3,288. “We were 150 pins behind Grandville going into the final two games, and we had caught them going into the 10th frame of last game, but a couple of unlucky splits and their anchor bowler putting up three strikes in their 10th cost us first place,” said Coach Lynn Farrance. The girls were led by seniors Katie Schmock (672 series, first overall) and Christina Miller (598 series, third overall). With the Rockford girls’ 10-2 conference record and a second place at the tournament, the Lady Rams secured sole possession of the OK Red conference championship. They will be sending two girls to the All Conference team: Katie Schmock (180) and Christina Miller (169). Last year’s returning juniors Jacquelyn Beard (19-1 match play record) and Megan Wood (16-6 match play record) earned Honorable Mention. “With only two returning starters and graduating three All Conference seniors last year, these girls really surprised me with what they accomplished. Seniors Katie and Christina really showed their leadership skills, but juniors Jacquelyn Beard and Megan Wood’s contributions were key to us having this successful of a season,” said Coach Farrance. Both teams will be going to Grand Haven’s Starlite Lanes for regionals on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27. Hopefully they’ll move on to state finals at M-66 Bowl in Battle Creek March 5-6. Team events will be on Fridays, and singles will be on Saturdays.