Archive for Athletics

WMC Sophomore Abby VanderKooi Shines at Footlocker Cross Country National Championship

Abby VanderKooi at Foot Locker National Championships

Coach Greg Gould gives the breakdown for the Championship race.

First and foremost, and I know I speak for Abby, her family and Coach Aardema as well; thank you to everybody who supported and prayed for Abby on this incredible journey to her second Foot Locker Cross Country National. To even be in a race like this is incredible, the talent level is almost beyond belief, and no matter your resume there are no guarantees of placing near the front.


I know many of you have watched the race live or online afterwards; read or heard several pre or post race interviews, but I have been asked to provide a recap from a coaches perspective.


I had the good fortune to be able to travel to San Diego the same day as Abby and her family, allowing me to attend Friday morning’s course preview; which I knew from last year would really be the last time Abby and I could discuss potential race strategy or any concerns with the course. Abby found the course to be in better condition than last year and was able to quickly get familiar with her surroundings and settle on a potential race plan. 


Saturday morning arrived quickly and the weather conditions were perfect for running fast, after warming up, some time in prayer and the introduction of all forty runners it was finally time to race the two loop course.


Abby found the course to be in better condition than last year and was able to quickly get familiar with her surroundings and settle on a potential race plan. 


As expected the start was very fast, driven mostly by Abby’s Midwest team, a pair of girls from the South Region and a pair from the Northeast Region. This event’s split times are captured electronically every half mile. The opening half mile was reached in a very fast 2:26 by the leader with Abby in close contact in fifth at 2:28. At that point one of Abby’s Midwest teammates who is know to be very aggressive in the early going came to the front to keep the pace very fast reaching the mile in 5:09, Abby was now up to fourth at 5:11.


Several girls were still right there in one long line of runners, as the race made it’s first of two climbs up a very long climb in excess of 300 meters, with the first 100+ meters being very steep. This climb would start to slim down the lead group and by 1.5 miles Abby had moved into 3rd, but there was really seven girls in a span of nine seconds; entering the second loop, all of them capable of coming to the front and trying to break away. 


by 1.5 miles Abby had moved into 3rd, but there was really seven girls in a span of nine seconds


By two miles the lead group had been reduced to three, Abby and two Midwest teammates reached two miles in 10:43-10:44 and the eventual second place finisher had broken free of the next pack and was closing down on the first three at an incredible rate in a huge effort to attach herself to that group of three before the final climb of the big hill which was coming at around 2.5 miles. That girl made contact with the three leaders just after two miles and now four were on the front and just prior to the final climb the eventual first and second place finishers started testing one another; with Abby working to cover each of the surges as they made there way to the base of the final climb. 
The second trip up the big climb was where the fireworks really started as the top two girls were attacking each other and Abby launched her own attack in an attempt to stay with them, dropping the fourth place girl back a bit. By the top of the climb the two leaders had opened some daylight on Abby, but she had really put a big effort in to stay within striking distance should either of them falter on the upcoming downhill and remaining 300-400 meters after that. Amazingly after the last descent the top two still had not been able to get any gap over the other and Abby was still within striking distance if either had misjudged their effort and/or the distance remaining.


Amazingly after the last descent the top two still had not been able to get any gap over the other and Abby was still within striking distance if either had misjudged their effort and/or the distance remaining.


With about 250 meters remaining the two leaders started to really trade surges and accelerated away from Abby a bit. Abby was fully aware that she was running a potential person best as the two mile split was very fast and the pace had not relented much in the final mile. My last vantage point on the course was at this point, about 250 meters from the finish. Knowing I personally could not reach the finish before Abby due to the construction of the fencing keeping the spectators off the course, my only hope to “see” the finish was to get about 100 meters further up the course to just past the three mile mark where the race would cross over the start line and head slightly left to the finish area.


Directly behind the start there was a large display showing the race live, with an official time clock running in the corner… I managed to reach that point just as Abby went by and knowing she could no longer hear me anyway; started yelling at the screen as I saw the potential for a personal best. Abby stopped the clock at 16:55.2, indeed a new personal best and matched her third place finish from last year, in what was the fastest top three finishers in event history on this course, which has hosted all but seven of the forty-one Foot Locker Nationals.


After Saturday’s race Abby now has run the third fastest time by a freshman girl in this event on the San Diego course (2018), and the second fastest time by a sophomore girl (2019) and the ninth fastest girls time ever at this event, for the San Diego course.
God has blessed Abby with incredible talent… I have been blessed to help coach her, to God be the Glory.

Coach Gould

Links to the race, interviews and event coverage.

Dyestat pre-race interview

Foot Locker National Championship Girls Race webcast replay

Milesplit post-race interview

Dyestat interview at awards banquet

Mlive post-race interview

Runner’s World event coverage

WMC High School Sports Fall Round-up 2019

Highs & Lows

It was a bittersweet ending to the fall sports season at Western Michigan Christian High School.

On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 2, the Warrior soccer team battled University Liggett 100 minutes, 80 regulation and two 10-minute overtime sessions without a goal being scored. The state championship match went to a shootout with WMC scoring four goals and University Liggett three.

What normally would have been a celebration the following Monday was an unusual celebration. The students, faculty and hundreds of family and friends, numbering about 1,000, gathered in Warrior Gym to celebrate, not the state title, but the life of a beloved teacher, Brian Vredevoogd, who had died very unexpectedly a week earlier.

It was a sad day, but a day we could all feel the presence of the family of God.

The soccer team’s celebration will be held this winter between games of the basketball season. Date and time TBD.

BOYS SOCCER:

First State Championship Since 2010

The season started slow for the Warriors with a 4-0 opening loss at Holland Christian, three ties and a disappointing-upset, 2-0, loss to Whitehall in front of a large “Warrior Weekend” crowd.

It appears the Warrior Weekend loss helped propel the Warriors to the state title as they finished the rest of the season without a loss.

As the regular season was coming to an end, it appeared the Warriors, coached by David Hulings, were becoming more focused and they ended the regular season being Lakes Eight Conference champs with a 6-0-2 league record and an overall record of 11-2-3.

Host WMC breezed through the district tournament with wins over Eau Claire, 8-0; Hudsonville Libertas Christian, 6-0 and Holland Black River, 6-0.

The Regional was a different story. The four teams were all ranked in the top five teams in the state in D-4, including No. 1 ranked Grandville Calvin Christian.

The host Warriors opened Regional play with a 3-0 win over North Muskegon and then defeated Calvin Christian, 2-1 in a shootout to advance to the state semi-final game at East Kentwood. WMC shut out Dansville, 2-0 and it was on to Novi for the state championship game versus University Leggitt.

WMC was crowned state champs after keeper Jameson Goorman stopped four of Leggitt’s penalty kicks for a 1-0 Warrior win.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL:

Several Historic Firsts in this Record-breaking Season

Volleyball is a game of stats and six records were broken this season including:

  • Aces-Match – 17, Esther Hartley vs. Muskegon Heights 2019
  • Assists-Season – 1311, Chloe Mitchell 2019
  • Assists-Career – 2724, Chloe Mitchell 2017-2019
  • Blocks-Career – 195, Chloe Mitchell 2017-2019
  • Digs-Career – 1239, Meghan Heiss 2017-2019
  • Team Record 39-11-3 (.764), Trent Smillie 2019   — (Previous record of 27-8-3 was figured incorrectly at .780.  That value is actually .750 as a tie counts as half a win and half a loss.)

This year’s Warriors girls volleyball team, coached by Trent Smillie, went undefeated in conference play to win the Lakes Eight Conference championship.

The host Warriors defeated Saugatuck and North Muskegon to earn the state district championship and then traveled to the regional at Hesperia where they defeated host Hesperia and then Pewamo-Westphalia for the school’s first-ever regional championship trophy.

Warriors celebrate WMC’s first Volleyball Regional Championship. Back row from Left: Head Coach Trent Smillie, Coach Meredith Smillie, (9th) Libby Mast, (10th) Madison Wiersema, (10th) Alisha Leffring, (12th) Eden Tencate, (12th) Anna Negen, (12th) Claudia Kingma, (11th) Greta VanderHeide, (11th) Taylor Folkema, (10th) Kyla Wiersema, Coach Chelsea Cooke-Tripp, Coach Ashley Sandine. Front row from left: Connor Smillie, (12th) Esther Hartley, (11th) Katelyn Olsen, (12th) Grace VanBeek, (12th) Meghan Heiss, (12th) Chloe Mitchell, (12th) Carli Betten

WMC competed in the MHSAA state quarterfinals at Unity Christian High School against top-ranked Schoolcraft. This was the first time WMC made it to the quarterfinals, however, Schoolcraft took the win that day.

Volleyball team lined up for the National Anthem and lineups prior to the State Quarter-final match.

They finished the season at 39-11-3.

After the season ended, the team again made history as senior Chloe Mitchell was named to the all-state first team.  

Senior Chloe Mitchell was named to the all-state first team,
a first time honor for the Warrior volleyball team!
Chloe was recruited by Aquinas College and will be playing for the Saints next year.

Click on link below to watch Mlive video of WMC history-making regional final win:


CROSS COUNTRY

Repeat State Champ for VanderKooi and State Finals for Team

WMC’s Abby VanderKooi repeated as cross country state champion this fall at the D-4 girls state finals at the International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI.

WMC’s recently resurrected-cross country program continues to be successful year after year.

The Warrior girls, coached by Kevin Aardema and led by super-sophomore Abby VanderKooi, one of the top runners in the state and nation, finished second to Ludington in the Lakes Eight Conference.

Girls Cross-country team at MHSAA State Finals. From left: Coach Greg Gould, (12th) Emma Visker, (12th) Abby Sweetman, (11th) Lily Zenz, (11th) Audrey Braak, (11th) Natalie Riksen, (12th) Chloe Kozal, (11th) Elise Van Meurs, Coach Kevin Aardema. Front row from left: (10th) Ava Rotman, (9th) Bri Zuidema, (9th) Cate Garretson, (9th) Jessica Eenigenburg. Not pictured: (10th) Abby VanderKooi.

They finished second at the Regional to advance to the state finals at the Brooklyn International Speedway where they finished 8th out of 27 teams and Abby repeated as state champion in D-4.

Abby went through the entire season without losing a race, winning most of them by over two minutes.

Boys cross country team with trophy. From left: (12th) Caleb Croff, Coach Kevin Aardema, (12th) Daniel Plaisier, Coach Greg Gould, (12th) Ben Garretson, (9th) Jonathan Clausing, (11th) Pierce Newell, (11th) Noah Ferrier, (12th) Ben Waldo.

The boys (pictured above), coached by Greg Gould, finished as co-champions with Ludington in the conference and third at the Regional to advance to the state final where they finished 15th out of 28 teams.

GIRLS GOLF:

The team of seven sophomores and two seniors include Zoe Vanderstelt, Elizabeth Bonnema, Sydney Betten, Grace Sytsema, Belen Francis, Ainsley Doornbos, Micah Betten, and Adayla Liggett.

It was a rebuilding year for the WMC girls golf team.

The team, coached by Scott Liggett, was composed of seven sophomores and two seniors (pictured above).

Coach Liggett sees a “bright future” for girls golf at WMC!

BOYS TENNIS:

Senior Tyler Newhouse playing in a singles tournament.

The boy’s tennis team, coached by Nick Bennett, showed great improvement over the last few years.

Season Record: 4-7

City Results:  4th Place

Conference:  6th Place

FOOTBALL:

WMC’s Solomon Waller (#3) picking up some yardage for the WMC/Muskegon Catholic co-op football team in this year’s season opener.

WMC completed its second season of a co-op program with Muskegon Catholic.

The 2019 team turned around from a losing season in 2018 to qualify for the playoffs and finish the season at 6-3.

The team lost to Ravenna in the first round of the playoffs, 14-0.

There were only seven seniors on this year’s team.

SWIM/DIVE TEAM

A Historic Season for the Turtles

WMC swimmers and their conference trophy. From left: Isabel Post (9th), Zoe Sytsema (11th), Naomi Huttenga (9th).

The 2019 Mona Shore/Greater Muskegon Girls “Turtles” Co-op Swim/Dive Team made history with their first-ever Girls OK Rainbow Tier 2 Swim /Dive Conference Championship!

They went the entire season without a loss.

Click here for more information about the WMC Warriors Athletic Program for both middle and high school.


Fred VandenBrand Honored

Fred VandenBrand – a hall of fame journalist

Fred VandenBrand

Western Michigan Christian School’s very own Assistant Athletic Director, Fred VandenBrand, was honored today in the Grand Haven Tribune for his tireless and extraordinary efforts during his tenure there as managing editor.

GH Tribune community columnist, Len Painter, recalled the days when Fred worked at the Tribune and highlighted some of his contributions as a writer and a man of character:

“I certainly agree that Falls and Waldmeir belong in the hall of fame, as well as many other notable journalists in the state. According to the Michigan Hall of Fame, nominees are judged on their contributions to Michigan journalism, courage, innovation and leadership.

While he isn’t in the hall of fame, Fred VandenBrand, former managing editor of the Grand Haven Tribute, fits those attributes.

Fred worked 35 years at the Tribune, including the last 20 as managing editor before retiring in 1998. Fred was one of the most respected editors in the state. He was the key factor in the growth of the Tribune.

Fred was a great journalist but he also cared about the welfare of his co-workers and was an integral part of the career of many young journalists.

Fred’s reputation as an editor was impeccable. He helped develop many young journalists who moved on to bigger careers and was well-respected as a leader in the community. 

“I am thankful for the legacy that our Assistant AD continues to leave here at WMC. Congratulations on this well deserved honor, Fred!” shares WMC Athletic Director, Kurt Gruppen.

Fred graduated from Western Michigan Christian in 1961 and has been working at his alma mater for about 15 years. He enjoys building relationships with students and keeps his writing chops honed as the editor of the WMC Sports Update, a daily e-newsletter that covers all things Warrior sports! To sign up for the WMC Sports Update email click here

To read the full article on Fred in the Grand Haven Tribune click here.

Congratulations Fred! Your Warrior family loves you and we are so grateful to have our very own Hall of Famer gracing our halls, fields, and courts!

Western Michigan Christian (WMC) High School and Middle School (7-12th) is located at 455 East Ellis Rd. Muskegon, including 360 students from 5 countries, 30 cities, and 75 churches. WMC is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS), a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Please >> click here to contact WMCS.

WMC BOYS SOCCER FUNDRAISER 2018

WMC Varsity Soccer team raises money for the bills and training of a Companion Dog for Lucas Barton.

Here’s Lucas’ story…

Meet Lucas. He’s a fun-loving and tenderhearted six-year-old that loves dogs and dinosaurs and likes to build with Legos and Magnatiles. He has a great sense of humor and likes to make everyone laugh. He has such a joyous outlook on life. He enjoys playing with his family and friends and loves the outdoors.

Lucas has recently been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD. This is a rare and progressive disorder that causes his muscles to become weaker over time until it affects the whole body. Right now, his hand and arm strength are diminished and going up stairs, walking, getting up off the floor and playing at the park are difficult and cause him to become fatigued. He needs to take frequent breaks and rest and also experiences muscle cramping and pain.

Something that we can do right now that would give him help every day is to get him a Companion Dog. This dog will need to have special training and certification. A Companion Dog can help him in his everyday life. We hope this dog can open and close doors, pick things off of the floor, give him bracing support, put laundry in a basket, take off his shoes, get help, and so much more. This dog will also help him during stressful Doctor appointments and with anxiety.

On October 5 the Boys Varsity Soccer team and Warrior Nation raised more than $4000 to support Lucas and the Barton family.

The Barton family thanks the WMC Senior Soccer Captains, the Warrior Soccer Team, the Bradford-Royle family, Warrior Nation and Leland fans for their support, prayers and generosity.

***PLEASE NOTE: Lucas and his older sister, Sidney, do not have a full understanding of what DMD is, it’s progression or it’s life-limiting prognosis. We ask that you please not mention or discuss these things around them or to them. Thank you***

PC Anna Sytsema

Western Michigan Christian (WMC) High School and Middle School (7-12th) is located at 455 East Ellis Rd. Muskegon, including 360 students from 5 countries, 30 cities, and 75 churches. WMC is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools(WMCS), a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Please >> click here to contact WMCS.

WMC Sports Update: Week-at-a-Glance for Jan 15th 2018

This Week in WMC Sports:

Click here >> to see the schedule of games and events for the week of Jan 15, 2018, from the WMC Sports Update.

Let’s Go WARRIORS! 

Do you want to receive daily email updates for WMC Sports? Click here >> to let us know that you want to opt-in to the WMC Sports Updates.

Western Michigan Christian’s mission is to educate with excellence, integrate faith with knowledge, equip students to work and serve Christ in their communities. To learn more about our school please click here >> to request information or to set up a tour.

A NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE INVITATION

Calling Warrior Nation to the WMC Gym:

On behalf of Western Michigan Christian, we want to extend an invitation to all WMC High School alumni and their families to join us for our Night of Remembrance at the WMC gym for the boys/girls varsity basketball games on Friday, December 22.
The WMC Athletic Department will honor beloved WMC athletes who have gone to be with the Lord.
First of all, families will be recognized during the boys varsity halftime presentation, additionally, they will be mentioned in the event program and their athlete’s picture will be displayed in honor. Immediate family members of former Warrior Athletes will be given free admission.
We are asking that families email the following information to WMC:
  • Name of Warrior Athlete
  • Sport played
  • Graduation Year
  • One Sentence Memory
  • Athlete’s Photo
Please email all information to mrglerum@wmchs.net or mail information attention Josh Glerum to 455 East Ellis, Norton Shores, MI by Friday, December 15th.
Most importantly, in order to reach many Warrior generations, we need your help in getting the word out. Please forward this information, or print and share in person, to anyone you know who would like to honor a departed Warrior family member.
It is our intention to honor as many Warriors as possible during this evening!
Blessings,
Josh Glerum and the WMC Athletic Department

Western Michigan Christian Soccer Celebrates 50 Years

Happy 50th Warrior Soccer Season

4 Coaches • 70%+ Winning percentage •17 Championship Appearances • 8 State Titles

Current Western Michigan Christian boys varsity soccer coach David Hulings shares thoughts on this year’s team in the context of the 50-year history:

“WMC boys soccer is not made up of the twenty-three players on this year’s team, team #50. It is not built for a season. WMC soccer is built on legacy and tradition. The fellowship team #50 shares is also with all those who have come before and will come after. Team #50 is simply another stitch in the fabric of the ag that is WMC Warrior soccer. There is an expectation of quality, not just in play but in character. We are teaching kids how to be champions so they can win championships.”
 WMC Alumni Game Picture on Warrior Field

WMC boys soccer is not made up of the twenty-three players on this year’s team, team #50. It is not built for a season. WMC soccer is built on legacy and tradition. The fellowship team #50 shares is also with all those who have come before and will come after.

Collin Breit (‘11) speaks to the WMC soccer legacy, “Everybody comes into the program knowing that there’s a good chance you’ll be contending at the end of the year.”

4 Coaches • 70%+ Winning percentage •17 Championship Appearances • 8 State Titles

Dave VerMerris, who was instrumental in starting WMC soccer, reflects on 50 years. The former coach shared, “It has been a blessing. God has worked in my life and has touched my life with a lot of people and it’s incredible. I could not have scripted it better than this.”

It has been a blessing. God has worked in my life and has touched my life with a lot of people and it’s incredible. I could not have scripted it better than this.
Click here for access to videos and a photo gallery documenting WMC’s 50 years.

Please also note WMC will celebrate 30 years of girls soccer this spring along with the 20th anniversary of a state title appearance.

We love to hear from our Warrior families! Please click here to give us feedback or even a testimonial that you would like to share!

Western Michigan Christian is a grade 7-12 high school and middle school located at 455 East Ellis Rd. Muskegon, including 360 students from 5 countries, 30 cities, and 75 churches. Our WMCS feeder schools include Fremont Christian School (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian School (PK-8), Muskegon Christian School (PK-6) and New Era Christian School (PK-8).