In the June 26, 2015 edition of The Rockford Squire two local Rockford students were featured in an article about the Michigan High School Rodeo and how they qualified for the national rodeo taking place in Wyoming this July. Unfortunately, one talented student was left out of the article. I’d like to provide you with her information in hopes that she may be recognized for her hard work as well. Riann Graff, a 16 year old heading into her senior year at Rockford High School, joined the Michigan High School Rodeo Association (MiHSRA) not knowing what to expect. When asked about the season she said, “It was a bit complicated for my horse (Cool Cash Seven) and I at times, but once she steps foot into the arena she has more determination than any horse I’ve ever been on. Our teamwork qualified us for the national finals in our rookie season. We earned the 4th place spot overall in barrel racing and I couldn’t be more proud.” Riann missed 2 rodeos during the year while representing the Rockford High School Equestrian Team in their regional and state championships, this left her going into the MiHSRA state finals in 6th place. Knowing only the top 4 places qualify, she ran a 17.443 (2nd) and a 17.257 (1st) moving her up into the 4th place position. These times, when compared to the 2014 national finals times, would place Riann and Seven in the top 5 in the country. Due to circumstances out of her control she is unable to travel to Wyoming for the national finals this year and she graciously gave up her qualifying spot to an alternate. She is now focusing on her senior year and excited for what future may bring
By John Raffel The 11U division had a unique run in the Meijer State games over the weekend at Art Van Sports Complex. Sterling Heights National appeared to be in an excellent position to win the tournament after a 2-0 start. The team posted 15-0 win over West Michigan Outlaws and 4-2 win over another opponent later in the tournament. “We had good defense,” a team spokesperson said, adding that on the hitting, “it’s been a collection of players. Everyone has been coming through.” Matt Bellcrest was leading the team in hitting. The Nationals were making their first trip to Art Van. “It’s a great complex,” the spokesperson said. It was a closer game on Sunday but the Sterling Heights Nationals came back with a 6-5 edging over the West Michigan Outlaws. The Sterling Heights Nationals lost later on Sunday 11-10 to sustain their first loss at the tournament. A Sterling Heights Nationals 12U team won on Sunday against the Canton Cardinals 3-0. The tournament also featured a Detroit Metro Stars Red teams in the 10U division, which enjoyed an 11-3 win over Northeastern.
By John Raffel The 15U division produced some unique results at the Meijer State games for baseball teams over the weekend at Art Van Sports Complex. On Saturday, the Northern Indiana Whitecaps had a 16-4 win over the Eastside Eagles, who also lost 10-0 to the Starz. The Grand Rapids Flames defeated the Starz 3-l. The Whitecaps had a 12-1 win Friday over the Grand Rapids Flames. The Northern Indiana Whitecaps won again over the Shamrock Baseball squad 9-3 on Sunday. But in the Whitecaps next game, the team lost to the Michigan Storm 8-2. “The kids are playing well,” Whitecaps coach Dave Shinn said, referring especially to Jake Harmon as a pitcher and Colin Buchan as a hitter. The Whitecaps were enjoying their trip to Art Van. “It’s a beautiful place,” Shinn said. Also on Sunday, Peak Performance beat the Eastside Eagles in a 15U game. Motor City River Sharks downed Arlington Cardinals Red 15-4 in the 14U division and Peak Performance topped Flame O’Dette 19-5 in 15U. Northern Indiana also had a 9-3 15U win over Shamrock Baseball. The Arlington Cardinals Reds beat the Saline Hornets 10-5. USSSA will have its Elite Select/Great Lakes College Showcase at the Complex July 2-5
By John Raffel Compuware and Lakeshore Storm were the champions in the 14U and 16U divisions over the weekend of the Rockford Blue Chip Classic at Art Van Sports Complex. Compuware was 2-2 after pool play of the 14U division. Sabercats were first at 4-0. On Sunday in championship round play, Compuware blanked the Sabercats 8-0 and advanced to the semifinals where it defeated the Rebels 8-1. In the title game, Compuware blanked the Bat Busters 8-0. The Lakeshore Storm, a Holland team, edged the Grand Rapids Elite 4-3 in the title game for 16U. In pool play, Elite and Lakeshore were both 3-0. In the championship round on Sunday, Lakeshore defeated the Diamonds 6-5 and the Dexter Hurricanes 7-2 to advance to the finals. Elite defeated the other Elite team 8-7 and another Elite squad 6-3 to advance to the finals. “We had a lot of good players from a variety of places in Michigan,” Tournament manager Brad Koch said. “We had an outstanding crew here.” Blue Chip, based out of Grand Rapids and Muskegon, has an upcoming event at Art Van, Koch said “We have a fall tournament coming up in September,” he said. “We have one fall, one summer event.” The June tournament was a four-day event. The September tournament will draw a lot of teams, but Koch said it will be on Saturday and Sunday, and will still include teams from out of state. “We’ll have some of the better teams in the state and out-of-state as well,” he said.