On August 28, Rockford’s Varsity Water Polo team traveled to the Jenison Varsity Tournament. They won all four of their games there, beating Holt/EastLansing 6-3, Grand Blanc 14-3, Ann Arbor Pioneer 9-8, and Hudsonville 14-7. Sophomore Cole McAnelly blocked 29 goals over the weekend. Seniors Chad Greenberg and Sam Sikkema scored 3 goals each. Sophomore Paul Sikkema provided 8 assists. Senior Jacob Vickery continued his remarkable stat averages with 5 goals, 7 assists, and 10 steals. Captain Chad Greenberg summarized the weekend, “With our co-captain Alec Cutler out with an injury, we had to have some guys step up. I think we got the job done, and I am excited to see even more improvement over the course of the season.” On August 29, the Junior Varsity team won all four of games at the East Kentwood JV tournament, as well. They beat Jenison 11-2, Hudsonville 17-6, East Kentwood 15-2, and East Grand Rapids 10-4. Freshman goalie Kyle Arend made 18 saves. Sophomore Zack Willison made 14 goals, while Freshman Gavin Saur made 11. Zack Willison also provided 9 assists and 16 steals. He reflected on the tournament, “Overall we played well as a team this weekend. Everyone knew what we had to do, and we just clicked. In our last game, we began in a deficient against an undefeated EGR, but we overcame them, and ended up undefeated for the weekend.” The next opportunity to see Ram Water Polo action will be 4:30 p.m. Thursday, September 3 at Rockford High School where they will play against Okemos.
The Rockford Men’s Water Polo team began their week by putting their number one ranking on the line as they traveled Monday to meet the number two ranked team in the state, the Hudsonville Eagles. The game was played in a packed house as the Eagles celebrated senior night by honoring 14 players. The match up was much anticipated by both teams, with each looking at this contest as one of the most important of the season. The crowd would not be disappointed as they enjoyed four periods of outstanding play, excellent coaching and intense emotion. Hudsonville dominated early as senior Kody Brinks electrified the crowd by scoring the first three goals of the game, knocking the Rams onto their backs. Brinks was on fire in the first half scoring four goals. Ram senior Justin Hulsebus scored at the two minute mark in the 1st period to lock the score at 1-3. Rockford’s leading scorer and hole-setter, Grant Beach was held scoreless for the contest, double and triple teamed. The Rams were, however, able to hurt Hudsonville by moving the ball around finding the open shooter. Senior Mike Arend capitalized by scoring a team leading three goals against the Eagles. Two of Arend’s goals would be his unique shovel shots. In the second period, the Rams responded with four goals. Ram junior Jacob Davis caught fire scoring twice and wore Brinks down with his physical defense. The emotional boost for the Rams came with 28 seconds left in the half as Brinks swam free on a breakaway only to have his shot stopped by Ram goalie Corey Fase. At half-time, the game was locked up at 5-5. In the second half, the contest continued to be intense, with outstanding play from both teams. At the three minute mark in the third period, the Rams gained the lead and ended the period with a one point advantage, 8-7. The fourth period began with Rockford junior Reese Patino finding the net twice. Arend added one of his three goals to close the door on the Eagles as Rockford came out of Hudsonville’s pool with an 11-7 victory. Both teams pulled their starting line-ups out of the pool at the 1:30 mark to a standing ovation from a […]
Water polo has been one of the success stories of Rockford High School athletics over the past decade or more. The state championships and winning seasons have been well-documented. Yet it seems the story does not end there. Several Rockford water polo alumni have teamed up with players from other West Michigan programs to form the 616 water polo team. They practice and play now for the sheer joy of placing the ball in the back of the net. April 11-12, the team traveled roughly 13.5 hours one way to participate in the Tar Heel Water Polo Invitational at the University of North Carolina. Rockford is well-known for its outstanding water polo program, and numerous Rockford alumni are on the team. Traveling to North Carolina were Pat Clarin, Adam Keith, Andy Schuiling, Brent Augustine, Dave Vanlier and JR VanderWall. The tournament began for the 616 team with a match against a fine team from Virginia Tech, with 616 winning 9-1. Next, the Charlotte Sharks fell to defeat by a score of 12-8. The following day, the 616 team continued their winning ways by defeating Duke 11-4 and then handed Florida State University a 12-5 loss. The championship game against the Boone County Outlaws was a thriller. After being down 4-1 at the half, the 616 team tied the score in the last minute and clinched the win with a goal by Augustine in the final seconds for a 7-6 victory, earning them first place in the tournament. The 616 team welcomes all interested water polo alumni to open practices that are held at the Zeeland pool on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and at the Jenison pool on Sundays from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. The team will have a home tournament hosted by Grand Haven High School June 19-21. For additional information, please contact Matt Skavnak at (309) 453-3435.
by PATRICK KEELEY Rockford’s varsity water polo team-ranked fourth in the state-evened their overall record at 3-3 (2-0 in league play) with a 19-0 thumping of Holland and their first home-pool victory, a 13-2 romp over Grand Haven. Kelsey Vermeer had seven goals against Grand Haven, Molly Wooldridge had two, and Christina Weston, Mary Keeley, Ariel Beattie and Amanda Johnson scored one each. Against Holland, goals were scored by Vermeer (five), Wooldridge and Weston (four), Lauren Hulsebus (two), Ashley Gremel, Casey Wolfer, Jamie VanPortfliet Kelsey Carlson (one each). The Rockford JV water polo girls hosted a tournament this weekend and won all four games. Coach Reickard said, “The girls played extremely well all weekend. They showed that they are one of the best JV teams around and really showcased that the future of Rockford water polo is very bright. Several girls had standout performances and are really making a case for themselves to be playing in the varsity games sooner rather than later.” Junior varsity had an 8-2 victory over Jenison, with goals by Jamie Van Portfliet (two) and Lauren Hulsebus, Emily Williams, Sarah Smith, Jessica Andrus, Taylor Downs and Erica Finlayson (one each), with Tiffany Elenbaas getting 10 saves. Against Ann Arbor Pioneer, Rockford won 9-4 with goals by Hulsebus (five) and Maddie Levine, Downs, Julia Ceglowski and Andrus (one each), with another 10 saves by Elenbaas. Rockford won 5-3 against Zeeland with two goals by Van Portfliet and one goal each by Hulsebus, Kelsey Carlson and Downs, and yet another 10 saves by Elenbaas. Against Hudsonville, Rockford won 6-3 with three goals by Hulsebus and one goal apiece by Smith, Carlson and Finlayson, and six saves by Elenbaas.
Coming into this season, many water polo teams were hoping this was their year to “beat Rockford.” Well, Rockford men’s water polo has put those teams on notice that it will not be easy. The Rams water polo teams opened their conference season this past Monday by beating Zeeland 14-5. “Zeeland is a bigger, faster team,” said Rockford varsity coach Dave McWatters, “so we knew we had to play smart and tough.” Rockford showed great team balance in their scoring, with seniors Tyler Augustine and Andrew Sakala each scoring three, along with juniors Tyler Manikowski and Connor Thelen. Junior Derik Bothma led the defensive effort with six steals. Rockford returned to Zeeland Friday and Saturday for the “Birdhouse Bash” Invitational, competing against most of the top west regional teams. Opening with an easy win over Zeeland “B” 12-4, Rockford then dominated Hudsonville (10-2) and West Ottawa (9-0) with tremendous team defense. “Everyone has their role to play defensively; everyone is responsible for helping their team,” explained McWatters. Those wins propelled the Rams into the championship finals against Grandville—certainly the tallest, and perhaps fastest, team in the state. Rockford opened with a 4-0 lead, with Augustine, Manikowski, Sakala and Jordan Sikkema scoring. But Grandville roared back and Rockford led only 5-3 at the half. “We became predictable,” said McWatters. “At halftime we talked about how we had to show different looks and challenge Grandville’s defense in different ways.” The adjustment certainly worked, as the Rams outscored the Bulldogs 7-1 in the second half for a 12-3 final. Senior goalie and captain Nate McLean was key, with great positioning and anticipation, making crucial saves to fend off Grandville’s attempted comeback. Senior captain Andy Huizen contributed three important assists during Rockford’s scoring spree. Rockford water polo is now 14-0, off to a fantastic start. McWatters commented, “We have many tough games ahead and we know everyone plays their best against us. We are certainly thankful to be 14-0, but we will not become complacent. We will work harder and smarter than ever.” Rockford faces Grandville and West Ottawa for home conference meets this week, and then travels to East Kentwood for a very challenging weekend tournament against a number of other top teams in the state. Next Monday, […]