For an unprecedented 15th straight year, Rockford’s boys cross country team captured the OK Red crown as conference champions last Thursday at the campus of East Kentwood High School. “We expect to challenge for the OK Red crown every year. Our boys know, coming in, that we have to be at our very best to continue the streak. Today, our guys took on the challenge of a tough muddy course and some quality competition, and they didn’t disappoint me or themselves,” commented Coach Andrew Martin, who has guided the Rams as head coach for the past three seasons. The Rockford boys team was led by senior Grant Gunneson, who was third overall in the race with a time of 16:51. He was followed by fellow senior Drake Veitenheimer (fourth, 16:59), junior Spencer Gerber (fifth, 17:07), senior Nick Shear (eighth, 17:11), and junior Devon Liu (12th, 17:22). All five scoring runners for Rockford were awarded All Conference medals for their performances. In the junior varsity race, Rockford showed that the cupboard will not be bare next year as the Rams swept the first five places, earning them a perfect score of 15 in JV team competition. The Rams were paced by Jake Naessens (17:47), who easily outdistanced the field to finish in first place. Naessens was followed across the finish line by Evan Bruin (17:54), Brett Johnson (17:58), Connor Jewell (17:58) and Taylor Swihart (18:01), a spread of only 14 seconds from first to fifth place. Coach Martin said, “I was apparently more nervous than the boys, as our JV guys ran excellent today. For many of these guys, this was their last race of the season, and it is always great to go out with big performances.” Rockford will be in action this Saturday, Oct. 31, at Carson City for the MHSAA Division I regional action. The top three teams and the top 15 individuals advance to the state finals at Michigan International Speedway on Nov. 7.
by LIZ SINKEVICS A record number of four members of the Rockford Rams girls varsity tennis team were named as OK Red All-Conference players, according to Coach Tom Huizing. The players are Lauren Korlewitz at first singles and Marjeanne Bothma at second singles, both freshmen, and the first doubles team of senior Jillian Haverkate and junior Katie Rachon. The eight coaches of the OK Red chose 10 singles players and two doubles teams as All-Conference players based on their records in conference matches throughout the season as well as their records at the conference tournament. Overall, the Rockford team’s record was 10-1-1, with two first-place wins and one second-place finish at the invitationals, a tie for first at the OK Red conference tournament, finishing second in the conference by just one point and winning the Class A Division I regional tournament for the first time in school history. Huizing said this is the first time so many Rams have been named to All-Conference during his four years of coaching at Rockford High School. The announcement came as the team prepared for last weekend’s state finals in Midland. It was the Rams’ second appearance at the state tournament in as many years. Huizing, who was named Regional Coach of the Year in the OK Red, said the team’s record was the best in his seven years as a coach. The stellar 2009 spring season also brought the highest finish he’s seen at a conference tournament, his first regional tournament win, his first time for back-to-back appearances at the state finals, his first victory against West Ottawa High School, and his first loss to Hudsonville High School, whose resurgent program topped the OK Red conference. “This team has meant the world to me,” said Coach Huizing, who is also a high school social studies teacher and former tennis standout at Aquinas College. “I have dedicated myself to these girls and the tennis program. I have the utmost respect for these girls as athletes and people. The girls have exceeded all my expectations.” Huizing said his goal for the team is constant improvement, mentally and physically, at matches, invitationals and tournaments. “These girls have taken this goal and dominated it,” he said. “These girls have given me a […]
by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER Call the Rockford girls soccer team “The Avengers.” On their way to victory in the OK Red conference tournament, the Rams avenged both of their league losses and handed early leader East Kentwood (EK) its only two conference losses. The tournament win gave the Rams a runner-up finish in the conference standings, a half game behind the Falcons. The two teams matched losses in the OK Red with two, but Rockford’s 2-2 tie to West Ottawa on May 6 gave the Falcons the edge. This week, the Rams may have a chance to avenge that tie with a match-up against West Ottawa in the district tournament. “I am very proud of what these girls have done,” said Rockford Coach Amira Ponne. “We avenged our two conference losses [to Grandville and Grand Haven]. Conference champs or runners-up-I don’t care. EK will know that we beat them not once but twice. We are champs in my mind, and everyone else knows that we are the team to beat. I hope the girls can keep this run going strong through districts.” After retaliating for an earlier 1-0 loss to the Grandville Bulldogs with an impressive 5-1 win in the tournament opener May 14, the Rams handed the Falcons their second loss Monday, May 18, with a 1-0 shutout on East Kentwood’s fast turf field. That victory placed them into the final round at Grand Haven on Wednesday, May 20. The Rams strode into the Buccaneer stadium with one main purpose: avenge a 2-1 loss 19 days earlier. They accomplished that mission with finesse. “Our girls are playing great soccer, and players are stepping out of the woodwork,” said Coach Ponne. “The key to success is to stay hungry for the win. We need to play hard and confident, but also with humility. I think we learned early on this season that at this level it’s anyone’s game.” The Rams are a unique team in that they do not feature one or two star players. Although junior Britanni Pierce scored the goal in the victory at Grand Haven, and senior Rachel Doud scored against the Falcons-both with assists from Sydney Benda-many other players have scored along the way and have pressured the opposition’s goalkeepers. […]
The Rockford High School Rams girls varsity tennis team finished the regular season with a tie for first place at the Saturday, May 9 OK Red conference tournament. In the final conference standings, Rockford placed second behind OK Red champs Hudsonville by just one point. This week, the Rams’ attention turned to the Thursday, May 14 Division I regional tournament. A non-conference match with Caledonia was scheduled for Monday, May 11. The Rams finished conference play with a 6-1-1 record, and a 9-1-1 overall record. The team won two invitationals. At the conference tournament, the Rockford squad tied with Hudsonville at 50 points each. Lindsay Gauger and Meliah Mead earned first-place medals for the fourth doubles flight, topping the runners-up from Jenison, 6-1 and 6-0. Second singles player MJ Bothma, third singles player Alex Stembaugh, and the first doubles team of Jill Haverkate and Katie Rachon were awarded medals as runners-up in their flights. Rain forced the conference event indoors at MVP in Rockford, Riverview and Ramblewood for the morning. By the afternoon, the rain stopped and the tournament moved back outdoors to the Jenison High School courts. The Rams were to face a nearly identical slate for Thursday’s regional tournament, except for Hudsonville. Ranked fifth in the state in Division II by high school tennis coaches, the Eagles moved to the Division II regional event. Winning teams and top singles flights at the regional tournaments are eligible for the state finals, May 29-30. Last year’s Rockford girls varsity tennis team was the first to qualify for the state finals in a decade, and finished in 15th place.
The Rams varsity boys golf team won another OK Red match on Tuesday, May 5 at Stonegate Golf Club in Muskegon. The Rams struggled a bit with the greens at par 37 Stonegate, but triumphed in the end. Rockford came in first place with a score of 159, followed by East Kentwood with 188 and Muskegon with 225. The Rams were led by Steven Mette, Eric Conroy and Trent Davison, each scoring 39, and Jake Chaffee with a score of 42. On Saturday, May 9, Rockford hosted the 2009 Rockford Spring Classic at Cedar chase Golf Club, a 6,460-yard course, par 72. Conditions were partly sunny, 57 degrees, with around 10-20 mph winds. Host Rockford again took first place with a score of 334, followed by Grandville (338), West Catholic (340), Greenville (355), and the B teams from Rockford and Grandville tying for fifth place with scores of 380. Davison led the Rams’ varsity team with a score of 80, followed by Conroy (84), Sam Gallup (84) and Mette (86). The Rams’ B team was led by Robert Pierson with a score of 91, followed by Darren Mazur (94), Jon Hughey (97) and Alex Fox (98). The OK Red post-season match-up at Grand Haven is on Thursday, May 14, followed by the East Lansing Classic on Friday, May 15, at 7:30 a.m. Watch next week’s Squire for results.