While a lot of college students are home enjoying the start of summer and starting their summer jobs, Hope College junior and 2009 Rockford graduate Joel Rietsema is focusing on getting ready for the NCAA Division III National Track Meet. The meet takes place in Claremont, Calif. on May 24-26. The former Rockford High School standout is currently ranked fourth in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:50.38. According to his coaches, this ranks him as one as one of the top 800-meter runners in the state of Michigan. Rietsema has been staying in Holland to do further training with his coaches Kevin Cole and Sue Addison. Rietsema battled several injuries last year with his hip, knee and shins. This year he is listening to his body and working closely with Coach Addison. “Last year was not the season I wanted. I did not listen to my body and it broke down,” Rietsema said. “My goal this year was to qualify for nationals. Now that I have done that, I want to win it. But to do that, I need a 1:48.” Rietsema’s coaches see the potential in him and believe he can do it. Earlier this season, Rietsema broke the Hope College 800-meter record, which was set in 2001. He also broke the MIAA Conference record, which had been held by a Calvin College runner since 1991.
Joel Rietsema Track & Field Joel Rietsema came to the RHS track team as a sprinter. His coach asked him to run the 800-meter in a meet, hoping for the best. That day Joel became Rockford High School track team’s fastest 800 runner. He has made a name for himself as the leader of the 4×400-meter relay team, the top athlete in the open 800, and the anchor of the 4×400-meter relay. Joel is the athlete every coach wishes he had. He is truly a team player, and a phenomenal all-around athlete. Congratulations, Joel, on being elected the Rockford Sports Boosters Athlete of the Week!