by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER and IAN PURVIS If the Rockford girls varsity soccer team’s defense was a welcoming committee, the reception last week would have been as cold as the weather. The Rams’ stingy backfield allowed no goals to be scored against them in the second week of play. Goalie Kristin Darby-assisted by the four diamond defense of Kayla Knoll, Lyndsey Hutchings, Celine Stalmer and Sam Decker, with help from the midfield and even the forwards-kept non-league foes Cedar Spring and Forest Hills Eastern (FHE) out of the net. “We can play defense all over the field,” said Coach Amira Ponne about the 0-0 tie against FHE Friday night. “Our whole team played defense and that kept them from scoring goals. They are a great team, but we kept our composure and didn’t let them score. Kayla Knoll was amazing. If not for her, they would have had a couple of goals. Sydney Benda did a great job of marking number three.” Going into the game, Ponne knew the host Hawks would be a foe of concern. Having played against them last year at the junior varsity level when she coached Rockford’s JV, she said, “We were evenly matched, and I remembered they had a lot of small, quick girls. Defending that can be a difficulty. I knew it could be anybody’s game. In the first half, they definitely took our key players out of the game,” adding that the Hawks communicated and passed well, forcing the Rams to chase after them. Her talk at halftime sparked a better second half. “We made some adjustments and possessed the ball longer in the second half,” added Ponne. Darby, in her fourth year in the net for the Rams, had a big night against the host Hawks as well. She had 15 saves, including one head-to-head collision with FHE’ Morgan Behm, who chipped a tooth from the impact. The Rams’ offense didn’t put too much pressure on FHE’s goalie Michelle Marcus, however, making only seven shots on goal, none of them threatening. “We didn’t get very good shots off, and their sweeper [junior Ann Kennedy] was amazing,” Ponne said. Against the Red Hawks, the Rams got off to a slow start. However, Ponne said of the second half, […]
by CANDY BURRIS In a test of physical strength and endurance, the Rockford crew team stood up to the challenge and excelled. Claiming first-place honors for the second year in a row, the Rams clearly showed they were the best in West Michigan. Competing against Forest Hills Central (FHC), Forest Hills Eastern, Lowell, East Grand Rapids (EGR), Forest Hills Northern, Northview, and Grand Rapids Boat Club, Rockford pulled out a first-place finish with 34 points, 17 points ahead of their closest competitors, EGR and FHC. The race was held at FHC, where rowers competed in two-meter races on indoor rowing machines called ERGs. Medals were given for first-, second- and third-place finishers, with the following Ram crew members taking home the honors: novice men: Matt Vermeer first, Bryce Vanderberg second novice women: Sarah Lemanski third lightweight women: Shelby Jacobs second openweight men: Landon Burris second openweight women: Olivia Kacsits first, Christine Kasper third coxswain men: Dylan Itter third coxswain women: Jesi Hernandez third Other team members placing in the top 10 for the Rams and earning points to ensure Rockford’s first-place win were: novice men: Andrew Christensen fourth, Nate Roohol fifth, Andrew Troyanowski seventh novice women: Kate Frasier fourth, Lena Kleinoeder fifth, Julia Fraser seventh, Kendall McConnohie ninth lightweight men: Tim Carlson fifth, Troy Paskeiwicz sixth, Tyler McDaniel seventh, Kyle Brown 10th lightweight women: Rochelle Huizinga fourth, Rachael Wrona sixth, Clara Harding seventh, Rebecca Markham ninth openweight men: Levi Pulver fifth, Zach Hagen ninth, TJ Jacobs 10th openweight women: Darcy Peck fifth, Michelle Kuhn sixth coxswain men: Danny Bronkema sixth coxswain women: Lauren Fey ninth Coached by Tim Jacobs and Greg Hobart, the Rams will compete at their first regatta of the season on Saturday, April 18 at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. The public is invited to attend and there is no charge for admission.
by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER The Rockford girls varsity soccer team began its season with the same opponent with which it ended the 2008 season. The results were the same as well. However, the Rams are a very different team from a year ago. The Rams lost 2-1 in the regional opener last spring to Okemos, and on Friday, they lost 2-1 again against the visiting Chiefs. But a lot has happened to the Rams since last spring. For starters, the girls are under the tutelage of a new coach. Amira Ponne, the junior varsity mentor the past three seasons, took the reigns from former coach and Rockford player Heidi Greenland for the 2009 campaign. Greenland, a teacher at Rockford High School, led her team to two regional berths in the last three seasons. She stepped down to spend more time with her sons. Ponne, a Spanish teacher at Rockford Freshman Center, has seven years of coaching experience and was a four-year player at Aquinas College. She was not disappointed by her team’s loss Friday night, their first game after just four practices. The Chiefs scored both goals in the first five minutes of the game off incredible shots by junior standouts Chelsea Miller and Kelsey Mullen. The Rams upped their defense the second half and never gave the Chiefs much of a chance to score again. “We did a great job,” said Ponne in her reaction to the team’s loss to Okemos. “In the second half we outplayed them. Their coach told me that he wasn’t sure what I had said at halftime but ‘Wow!’” The Rams got on the scoreboard five minutes into the second half when sophomore Sydney Benda scored off a Matti Graves pass in front of the net. Benda’s shot went high into the left-hand corner, beyond the reach of the Chiefs’ goalkeeper Sarah Banks. Besides having a new coach this season, the Rams also have nine new players. With just 11 returners from last year’s 12-5-4 squad, the team is still trying to figure out where everyone fits. Less than 12 hours after the loss to the Chiefs, the Rams took the field against Battle Creek Lakeview at a tournament at Grand Valley State University. The squad lost the 10 a.m. […]
Waldo joins elite company with fourth title by TIM COOPER On Thursday, March 12, 896 wrestlers from four divisions walked the floor of the Palace of Auburn Hills in the opening ceremonies of the state individual wrestling championships. Among them were eight hopeful young men from Rockford. Attendance was an all-time high with 43,454 tickets sold for the weekend. In an opening round that saw the Rams earn an amazing 28 takedowns, while giving up none, all eight advanced to the quarterfinals on Friday, March 13. At the end of the second round of competition, seven of the eight were still standing. Only CJ Scholl (152) had dropped into the consolation bracket with a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to Tyler Romijn of Temperance-Bedford. In what was the final match of his high school career, Scholl found himself nursing an injured shoulder and trailing Walled Lake Central’s Don Kril 10-1. Late in the third period, Kril gave up a penalty point by illegally slamming Scholl to the mat. Though Scholl could have used this penalty to advance to the next round, he chose to end his career with true character and allowed Krill to advance in the competition. In Friday’s semifinal round, Zach Johnson (140) felt a similar heartache when he lost 2-1 to Charlie Cordero of Rochester Hills’ Stoney Creek. Coming this close to a state championship, the Ram wrestler showed his determination by battling back in the consolation brackets. In the first round of consolations, Johnson faced a familiar foe in OK Red conference runner-up Nick Bohn of East Kentwood. Just as Johnson had done several times during the season, he dominated Bohn, winning 11-4.
21 medals earned by DENISE WEBB The excitement level was like no other this past weekend at the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) state finals as hundreds of swimmers and divers from 51 Division I high schools assembled at Eastern Michigan University’s Michael H. Jones Natatorium to determine the “best of the best” in the state of Michigan. The MHSAA state finals began with preliminaries for diving on Thursday, March 13, and swimming on Friday, March 14, followed by the final meet on Saturday. “To think… 77 Division I high schools in the state of Michigan are invited to send qualified swimmers and divers to this meet,” stated Coach Tom Parks. “Several of the 51 schools that competed this year only had a couple of swimmers and divers qualify. Rockford had 13. That’s a lot! It’s been several years since we have had this much talent to send to the state level.” The Rams’ state team consisted of seniors Tyler Augustine, Guy Gordon, Mark Hecksel, Andrew Huizen, Quinton Rodriguez (diver), Andrew Sakala; juniors Derik Bothma, Alex Devries, Brian Ginebaugh, Tyler Johnson (diver), Connor Thelen; sophomores Ben Fredrickson, LJ McCauley (diver); and freshman Bryan Wasberg. A swimmer can only compete in four events at the finals-two individual races and two relays-and to do so he must place in the top 16 of those events at the preliminaries. Not many swimmers qualify for all four of the allowable events. Of Rockford’s state swimmers, only Augustine and Wasberg placed in the top 16 of four events.