The Rockford boys cross country team completed a busy week, competing in three events held in Kentwood, East Lansing and Sparta. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Rams dominated East Kentwood in the first dual meet of the season, taking eight of the top 10 places. Drew Woznick was first across the line. Other top 10 finishers were Tyler Harney, Austin Benoit, Casey Aman, Grant Aman, Chris Coles, Andrew Pitcher and Connor Jewell. On Friday, Sept. 16, the varsity squad competed at the annual Spartan Invitational. Over 4,800 athletes and 300 teams, covering college, high school and middle school age groups, competed. Rockford finished 11th overall and eighth in Division I. Top finishers for the Rams were Woznick with a personal best of 16.08 (23rd overall) and Benoit with personal best time of 16:08 (24th overall). Other varsity scorers were Harney (16:39 PR), C. Aman (16:58) and Coles (16:59). G. Aman (17:02 PR) and Pitcher (17.06 PR) also competed for the Rams., both recording personal record (PR) times. On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Rams competed at the Sparta Invitational. In the varsity race, Rockford finished second behind Hudsonville. The Rams’ Jewell, Mark Cruickshank and Mark Lehman finished in fourth, fifth and seventh place, respectively, all recording PR times. The Rams dominated the junior varsity race, taking seven of the top 10 places. The Rams’ Caleb Cuneo finished in second place with a time of 19:13. Other Rams in the top 10 finishers were Sam Lewis, Doug Halmi, Aaron Plambeck, Austin Scogg and Brad Fischer. This Wednesday, Sept. 21, the Rams run at Johnson Park against Jenison and Hudsonville. On Saturday, Sept. 24, the Rams will compete at the Cougar-Falcon Invitational to be held at Calvin College’s Gainey Complex.
Rockford Boys Cross Country
by Chris Cruickshank Some of the participants in the Wednesday, Oct. 13 boys cross-country race weren’t even born in 1996 when the Rockford High School boys cross-county team lost their last dual meet. But something has to give when two unbeaten squads clash, and unfortunately, it was the Rams’ record. The Grand Haven Buccaneers took first, third and a tightly contested fourth place, which was enough for the team victory. Spencer Gerber led the way for the Rams, taking second place with a time of 16:27. He was followed by teammates Drew Woznick, Austin Benoit and Devon Liu, who took fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively. The loss raises the stakes of the October 22 conference meet, where the Rams will try to maintain their 15-year strangle hold on the OK Red league title. The Rams quickly returned to their winning ways on Saturday, Oct. 16, taking team first place at the Kent County Invitational. Once again, Gerber was the first Ram across the finish line with a time of 16:06, which was good enough for second place. Six other Rams finished the 3.1-mile course under 16:47, including Woznick, Liu, Casey Aman, Chris Coles, Steven Ek and Benoit. In the junior varsity race, Rockford dominated by taking nine of the top 15 places. Evan Bruin took first place, followed by Grant Aman (second), Nate MacQueen (third), Tyler Harney (fourth), Marc Lehman (sixth), Andrew Pitcher (eighth), Cam Fasel, (11th), Mark Cruickshank (13th) and Mike Greko (15th). On Friday, Oct. 22, the Rams return to Grand Haven to defend their OK Red league championship at the conference meet.
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.
Participating in the largest invitational of the young cross-county season, the Rockford boys cross country team finished fifth out of 26 teams running in the Elite division of the MSU Invitational, held at the Forest Akers Golf Course on the campus of Michigan State University on Friday, Sept. 18. The fifth-place finish equaled the highest by the Rockford boys team in the last several years. The Rams missed being on the team podium by only 23 points, as the top three teams brought home trophies. Pacing the Rams was senior Grant Gunneson as he ran a course personal record coming in at 16:26, placing 18th overall and making his way to the medalist platform, as the top 30 individual runners take home medals. Also medaling for the Rams was junior Spencer Gerber, who ran 16:40, finishing in 23rd place. Just missing out as a medalist was senior Drake Veitenheimer, who ran 16:46, finishing in 31st place. Veitenheimer was in 66th place at the two-mile mark and passed 35 runners to finish just one place out of the medals. Running fourth and fifth respectively for the Rams and rounding out the scoring were senior Nick Shear at 17:00 and freshman Drew Woznick at 17:26. Coach Andrew Martin commented, “Our boys ran a really tough course and raced hard on Wednesday night in our last tri-meet. We thought we could run top three today, but I am not disappointed in our finish. It is very early in the season. We will continue to train hard right through all of our early season invitationals.” Rockford is in action next Saturday as the top seven boys travel to Jackson for another test against the state’s top competition. Running as a split squad on Saturday at the Cougar CC Invitational will be the all of the other varsity and junior varsity boys. This invitational will be held at the Gainey Athletic Complex on East Paris Ave. in Grand Rapids due to construction at East Rockford Middle School.