Archive for girls cross country

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.