The Rockford boys ran a tough race Friday afternoon, Sept. 17, at the Spartan Invitational held at the Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing. Running in the Elite Division, this meet provided an opportunity to assess the competition the Rams will face against some top talents from across the state. They will also face some strong local teams, especially in the face of big changes to the varsity line-up, as last year’s strong senior runners have moved on to college teams. The top runner in the Elite Division came in with a 15:30 time for the 5K course, followed by three other runners with sub 16-second times. The top team was Dexter with an average time of 16:37, with several other teams approaching their times. Local team Grand Haven took ninth place and promises a good challenge for the Rams in coming weeks. The Rams were led by veteran varsity team members seniors Steven Ek and Spencer Gerber and sophomore Drew Woznick. Ek showed a strong finish with a time of 16:43, coming in at 33rd place, which separated him from a spot on the awards podium by only three runners. Gerber and Woznick followed with times of 17:01 and 17:03. Rounding up the varsity team at this event was sophomore Chris Coles (17:34) and senior Eric Parsell (17:41), followed by senior Devon Liu (17:41) and senior Mike Greko (18:06). Rockford placed 16th out of the 27 teams in the Elite class. However, with a predicted ranking of ninth place, according to the results of recent polling of Michigan cross country coaches, the team is expected to continue to improve their showing as the season unfolds. Coach Andrew Martin was upbeat after the race, mentioning the potential he sees with the team going forward.
On a day that started out with a long, early morning bus ride in heavy fog, the Rockford boys cross country team made their own sunshine for Coach Andrew Martin, as they won their second consecutive invitational of the 2009 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 12. Traveling to Bath, near Lansing, the Rams joined 12 other schools in the large school division and came home with the championship trophy as they scored 55 points, outdistancing a very strong Saline team by 15 points. Running without Nick Shear, one of the team’s captains and top runners, the Rams showed their overall team depth, placing all five of their scorers in the top 23 racers. Leading the way for Rockford was senior Grant Gunneson, followed closely by junior Spencer Gerber. Gunneson’s time of 16:34 was good enough for fifth place. Both running 16:41, Gerber nailed down sixth place while senior teammate Drake Veitenheimer edged in closely for eighth. The story of the day may have been the next runner to score for the Rams, as junior Steven Ek ran a 16:57, which placed him 13th and definitely gave the Rams the step-up performance that was needed to win the meet. Rounding out the scoring for Coach Martin’s squad was up-and-coming freshman Drew Woznick, who ran a very solid 17:22. The final two varsity runners for the Rams, and a further testament to the overall team depth, were 400-meter track-and-field convert Ryan Romain and Devon Liu, who ran 17:24 and 17:25 respectively in finishing 26th and 27th overall in the 91-runner field. When asked to explain the winning performance of his team, Coach Martin said, “These boys deserved to bring home the trophy. On Thursday we ran the guys on their toughest hill workout of the season and some thought they might have some weary legs, but they showed that all their efforts in practice translated very well in the race results today.” In the junior varsity race, the Rams triumphed once again, scoring an almost perfect 17 points (15 is perfect) while beating second-place Saline by 21 points. All five scorers for Rockford in the JV portion of the invitational broke the 18-minute barrier. First-place finisher Evan Bruin led the way, running a 17:40 for the 5K distance. […]