Senior Tyler Manikowski overpowers an opponent. Photo by GORDON PETERSON Rockford topped Okemos in the finals of the East Kentwood Invitational on Sept. 19, capping an impressive five-win-one-loss week of polo action. The Rams pushed their season record to 12-5 with solid play at both ends of the pool. The week began with the Rams’ first two conference wins: a 10-3 victory at West Ottawa and a 16-7 win at Jenison. Senior Derik Bothma had seven goals and senior Kyle Peterson had four steals against West Ottawa. Seven Rams scored against Jenison, with sophomore Alex Savage and Bothma each providing four assists. The Rams opened the East Kentwood Invitational Friday night, Sept. 18, against the host Falcons. This evenly matched contest featured rugged defense and some spectacular shooting. Regulation ended in a 7-7 tie, and the tie-breaker shootout ended 10-10. East Kentwood then prevailed in the first round of the sudden death shootout for a final score of 11-10. After another disheartening one-goal loss (their fourth in two weeks), Rockford coach Dave McWatters spent a restless Friday night wondering whether his team had “the character of a champion.” He found out Saturday morning when his Rams faced the talented and experienced Grand Haven Buccaneers. Rockford’s trademark defense and the scoring of seniors Connor Thelen and Bothma kept the game close. But regulation ended in another 7-7 tie! The Rams’ character was now tested under extreme conditions. All five shooters responded by scoring—a perfect shootout, and a 12-10 victory. The Rams then overpowered Zeeland 17-3. Eleven different Rams scored goals. Kyle Peterson and sophomore Josh Travis each contributed three assists. The final game of the tourney pitted the high-powered Okemos offense against Rockford’s swarming defense. The Rams proved to be too much, topping Okemos 8-4. Bothma concluded a week of prolific scoring with five goals to lead the Rams. Bothma is quick to note, however, that water polo is a team sport. “We need everyone to play well if we’re going to be successful. This weekend everyone played their best and gave it their all. We really came together as a team.”
September 24 2009
by DAN LEESA The Rams’ varsity soccer players kicked off their season in August loving Saturdays. After losing a core of 12 strong seniors and grueling weeks of pre-season conditioning, Rockford’s newly formed varsity team came out of the gate on Saturday, Aug. 22 without time for small talk during the Portage Central Invitational. The field catered to no one during the first match against a highly ranked Okemos crew. Though rough ground conditions coughed up a havoc of bad bounces, creating scoring opportunities for Okemos’ skilled strikers, Rockford senior goalie Sean Lewis and a motivated defense kept them off the board. Rockford won the first match 1-0 courtesy of Okemos and a misguided ball in the first half. Strongly favored to win, Stoney Creek faced off against a Rams team ignited. Rockford scored on a streamlined ball from freshman Dewey Lewis to senior Andrew Wyles, who drilled an upper 90 blast past the keeper 20 yards off the net. Stellar play from sophomore Cam Jensen and senior Kyle Cook kept Stoney Creek Academy player Jordan Tyler trapped in the midfield. Meanwhile, senior defenders Joe Weber and Michael Bertsch, backed by junior Dylan Bronkema, held Tyler’s teammates in check to close the game 1-0. Though exhilaration traded places with fatigue during the heated tourney’s third match against South Lyon, a precision touch shot over the keeper’s head by Wyles sealed the deal 1-0 yet again and sent home inspired players. And then Monday, Aug. 24’s home opener against Lowell rolled around. While starters Dewey Lewis and Jensen sat out with injuries, a Rams team—still rebounding from the Portage tourney’s unfaltering physical action—struggled to connect passes. Several turnovers on the defensive end, despite Rockford’s refueled attempts to find the net, led to Lowell’s 1-0 win. On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Rams journeyed to Fruitport. The rivals finally scored on a cross to an open striker, sending Rockford home without a post for the scoreboard, 0-1. Heading into Saturday, Aug. 29’s high noon match against Michigan’s number-one-ranked Class B team, Forest Hills Eastern, Rockford stepped up their game. While Eastern controlled possession and pleased home bleachers with a goal in the first half, Rams’ […]
When the Lady Rams’ swimming and diving team take the deck, one thing is immediately apparent: this team has depth. With 48 swimmers and seven divers, the talent pool is large—and young. Thirty-three of the 55-team roster are freshmen and sophomores who are stepping up under their senior leadership and contributing in big ways. Led by head coach Tom Parks, B team Coach Kevin Brown, diving coach Marc VanDyken, assistant coach Abby Schuyten, and team captains Jessica Cutler, Erica Cutler, Ashley Gremel and Taylor Hutson, the Rockford girls swimming and diving team kicked off their season Saturday, Sept. 12, with the A team heading to West Michigan Relays at East Kentwood and the B team competing in the Birds of Prey Relays at Union High School. The girls swam well, despite their intense training and conditioning in the weeks prior to their first meet. The A team took second place at West Michigan Relays, outperforming swimming rivals Holland, West Ottawa and Jenison. The East Grand Rapids Pioneers took first place. Rockford’s B team finished fifth at Birds of Prey, with Coach Brown noting he was “very pleased with his swimmers’ progress and performance. Every girl achieved a personal best time in at least one event.” The Rams hosted their first dual meet on Tuesday, Sept. 15, against Zeeland, winning easily with 107.5 to 76.5 points. The meet opened with the Lady Rams going first-second-fourth in the 200 individual medley (IM), with the winning relay of Wolfer, Romain, E. Cutler and Van Portfliet swimming a Division I state-qualifying time of 1:55.08. Zeeland came on strong with a series of first places (taking six out of 12 events), but the Rams’ depth was no match in the long run. Sarah Smith took second in the 200-yard free with a state-qualifying time of 2:01.24, and J. Cutler took second in the 200 IM with a state-qualifying time of 2:14.48. The Rams took first and second in the 50-yard freestyle, with Van Portfliet swimming 26.12 followed closely by Wolfer with 26.45. E. Cutler followed her twin sister’s state-qualifying lead with a quick 59.84 in the 100-yard butterfly, just missing a new pool record. Alaina Smith, also with an identical twin sister on the team, took […]
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.
Competed at MSU and Sparta invitationals Perennial state powers Rockford and Grand Haven touched off in OK Red dual meet action this week with the Lady Rams turning in a dominating victory with a score of 22-33. “Grand Haven has won the conference the past two years and finished runner-up in the state both of those years, so we were keyed up for this race,” stated Coach Benjamin Watson. “If you can’t beat a team in the dual meet part of the season, the chances of being able to win the conference title are greatly diminished, so we wanted this victory bad.” Super sophomores Jane Hawks and Taylor Manett led the way for the Rams by placing first and second with times of 18:54 and 18:54.9, both lifetime personal records (PR). Junior Catie Rietsema claimed a fourth-place finish in 19:36 with sophomores Sawyer Rocheleau finishing in sixth with a lifetime PR of 19:47 and Sam Anderson finishing in ninth with 19:57. “The girls ran great today, and they have now set the table for the rest of the OK Red season. There are plenty of other important races left against good teams, but having this one finalized in our favor is a big step,” said Coach Watson. Over the weekend, the Lady Rams competed in two meets with a split squad. On Friday at the MSU invitational the Lady Rams claimed eighth place out of 24 teams in the Nike Elite division. Hawks, Rietsema, Anderson, Katie Carlson, Jordan Vickery and Rocheleau competed for the Rams, recording times of 19:13, 19:16, 20:09, 20:32, 21:18 and 22:21 respectively. “Our girls up front ran very well for us today, but we can certainly do better as a team in the future,” stated Coach Watson. The other competition was the Sparta Invite where Rockford finished third out of seven teams. Allison Hazy led the way for the Rams with a season PR of 20:21. Megan Knape, Ashley Kasul, Molly Brasure and Elyse Sholtis rounded out the scoring for the Rams by recording times of 20:42, 20:54, 21:19 and 21:23. Katina Goad and Scarlett Waite concluded the Lady Rams’ varsity effort with times of 22:12 and 22:47. The Lady Rams head to West Ottawa Wednesday, Sept. 23, for dual meet […]