In what is best categorized as improbable, the women’s cross-country team of Rockford won the OK Red conference championship race by defeating previously unbeaten Hudsonville and outdistancing second-place Grand Haven by 18 points. The Rams finished with 44 points to Grand Haven’s 62 and Hudsonville’s 72. The Rams, who went into the championship race in third place due to defeats at the hands of both the Bucs and Eagles, finished in a three-way tie for the overall conference championship by defeating both in the championship race. “We certainly were not the favorites to win today,” said the Rams’ Head Coach Ben Watson. “But that is why you run the race.” Senior Taylor Manett claimed the individual conference crown by easily outpacing the second-place finisher by 43 seconds. Her winning time of 18:20 was the only finisher under 19:00. Fellow senior Jane Hawks claimed fourth place overall with a time of 19:35. Joining the two seniors in earning All Conference honors was sophomore Morgan Harney with a ninth-place finish with a time of 20:00. Finishing the scoring for the Rams were freshman Kerianne Schoff and Natalie Napolillo in 13th and 17th place respectively in times of 20:11 and 20:31. Those places earned the freshman Honorable Mention All Conference honors. “Our top five all had great races. This is our third time racing at Johnson Park, and each one of them ran their fastest on this course today. It is very rewarding to see the girls enjoy such a great team accomplishment after putting in so much hard work,” said Coach Watson. Concluding the varsity race for the Lady Rams was Maegan Roach and Lauren Brasure in 27th and 35th with times of 21:06 and 21:36. This victory for the Rams will put a target on their backs heading into next weekend’s regional championship, where Rockford will once again face Grand Haven and Hudsonville. “We certainly surprised some teams today by racing so well, but that won’t be the case next time around. We will have to bring our best again in order to win the regional,” said Coach Watson.
Lady Rams Cross Country
The Lady Rams of Rockford claimed second place at the cross country state finals at Michigan International Speedway. The runner-up finish is the best for the Lady Rams since 2003, when they were second place in the state, and cements them as the state team of the decade. “Being state runner-up is pretty incredible,” stated Coach Benjamin Watson. “It is the best finish for all the girls who are currently in the program and the best finish I have had in my coaching career. We wanted to come away nuamber one, but number two is still very rewarding and fun!” Sophomore Jane Hawks capped off an incredible season with an 18th-place finish, which was good for All State honors. “Jane ran a very good race for us. She was sick last year at the state finals and did not have a fun experience that day, so I am happy that she was able to run well on the biggest stage and earn All State honors for herself and lead us to our team runner-up finish,” said Coach Watson. Senior Katie Carlson finished her cross country career with an incredible 32nd-place finish, narrowly missing the top 30 and All State recognition. “Katie made the most of her final cross season. This was the first time in her career that she was a top seven runner for us and she is ending her career being All Conference, All Region and having a new lifetime personal record by over a minute,” stated Coach Watson. Sophomore Taylor Manett, junior Catie Rietsema and sophomore Sawyer Rocheleau finished the scoring for the Lady Rams with places of 53rd, 58th and 75th respectively. Sophomore Sam Anderson and junior Allison Hazy finished the team effort for the Lady Rams with places of 93rd and 155th. “These girls all competed hard, much like they have done all season. They enjoy running and working hard, and that is what allowed us to finish in second place in the entire state. We will have all of them back except one next year, so things are looking good for the future,” said Coach Watson.