Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant
The 2019 Panther Softball team, under the guidance of veteran coach Tom Golden, has plenty of experience along with several new faces. Last year’s team was 10-2 in the SAC Lakeshore division, only losing to eventual state champion Coloma, and finishing in second place for the third straight year. The team was 19-13 overall. The 2019 team is made up of six seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
Leading the offense for the Panthers again this season is four-year starter Mikaylah Clay. Clay was 2018’s top hitter, batting .485 with 11 doubles, nine triples, two home runs and 26 RBI. She’s battled injuries the last couple seasons but expects to be healthy and run the defense from behind the plate.
Senior and three-year starter Celina Klimkiewicz takes over as the top pitcher. In 2018, Celina had a 4-2 record with a 3.02 ERA along with 36 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched. She will face a much heavier workload this season while taking over for 2018 All-Region pitcher Kara Liles. Sister Sabrina Klimkiewicz, also a three-year starter, will control the outfield from center. Sabrina hit .284 last season.
Senior and two-year starter Emalie Gitersonke anchors the infield at third base, and hit .304 last season. Three-year starter Alex Worley will get plenty of playing time in both the infield and outfield.
The Panthers will be leaning heavily on their new players, especially sophomore catcher Natalie Knight and freshmen infielder Addison Riley and pitcher Hannah Hart. Coach Golden expects all three to step in and play well in their first varsity opportunity.
Other players on the team this year include seniors Brittney Porphir and Brenna Langston, juniors Maddie Wilkinson and Serena Reyna, and sophomore Sophia Warsko.
The team starts their season with a double-header at home on Wednesday, March 27 at 4:00 p.m. against Bridgman.
SPRING ARBOR STANDOUT… Dan Cluster, a 2018 Watervliet High School graduate and member of the Panthers’ varsity basketball team, helped Spring Arbor College win the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II championship title. Cluster had 34 rebounds, four blocks, three steals, and scored 55 points this season.
WHS soccer and baseball
Watervliet Panther girls’ varsity soccer team kicks off their season with a home opener on Tuesday, March 26 at 5:00 p.m. against Berrien Springs.
Varsity boys’ baseball opens on the road with a double-header against Hartford starting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27.
Watervliet grad wins NAIA Championship
Watervliet graduate from the Class of 2018, Dan Cluster, recently finished his freshman season at Spring Arbor University. It was quite a rookie season, as his team beat Oregon Tech University to win the NAIA Division II national championship in Kansas City last week. Dan had a solid freshman season, playing in 31 games and scoring 55 points and hauling in 34 rebounds off the bench.
Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath
Coloma boys dominate in SAC All Conference selections in Lakeshore Division
The Coloma Comet boys’ basketball team placed an entire starting lineup on the recently selected, all conference team of the SAC Lakeshore Division. Four of the Comets are first team selections, and one player earned honorable mention.
Making the first team all conference for the fourth time is Coloma’s senior all state guard Zach Goodline, Zach is joined on the first team by teammates, senior Phillip Caldwell, junior Michael Dancer, and super sophomore Drew Goodline. Making the team as honorable mention is senior Kenny Crowder.
The Comets boasted a SAC Lakeshore division record of 9-1, and an overall record of 16-5.
Coloma took an early exit from the state basketball tournament, in a thrilling first game district loss to Lakeshore, but had a fine season, winning their final 10 games and 15 of their last 16 regular season games.
Zach Goodline, who first made the all conference team as a freshman, led the Comets in almost every significant category including over 29 points per game, and finished his career as one of the top 15 scorers of all time in the state of Michigan with over 2,200 points.
Phil Caldwell played mostly on the wing, consistently knocking down 3-pointers for the Comets, and was a capable rebounder.
Junior Michael Dancer, although playing as a forward, was one of Coloma’s top performers night in and night out. By hitting the boards hard he was Coloma’s top rebounder at only 6-feet tall, and many times taking the ball away from much taller opponents. Michael had the greatest scoring impact on offensive rebounds and put backs. He was also a confident shooter from inside 15 feet.
Zach’s younger brother Drew Goodline made the varsity squad this year as a sophomore and had a sensational season. Although he did take some lumps, learning on the fly as he took the leap up from the JVs. Drew played mostly on the wing and had some big nights hitting three pointers. He had one huge game with a season high of 30 points. Drew also improved greatly as the season went on and became a very capable ball handler, another aspect of the game he will have to inherit from his brother going into next season.
Kenny Crowder had a fine senior season as a guard for the Comets, and had several games when he hit some big shots from outside the 3-point arc. Kenny started for much of the season, and was instrumental in getting the ball into the hands of the right players at the right times.
Overall the Comets had a tremendous and exciting season. Coach Paul Marfia will have plenty of talent coming back that should be able to compete for another conference crown.
KEEPING THE GOLD… Cody Reese, a senior at Coloma High School, will trade the Comets’ green and gold for the royal blue and gold of Muskegon Community College after he signed his letter of intent to wrestle for the school. Pictured at the signing (from the left) are Daryl Reese – Cody’s father, Cody, and Coloma varsity wrestling coach Kenny Ashley.
Coloma Girls Basketball place 2 on All Conference SAC team
Coloma Comet juniors Megan Neubecker (first team) and Megan Koenigshof (honorable mention) received all conference honors for this past season in the SAC Lakeshore Division. The better news for Coloma coach Kim Swisher is they’ll both be back next season.
Neubecker playing in the center position for the Comets, had a great year playing on the inside, and finished the season averaging in double figures in points and rebounds. Megan is strong on the boards, and with more work on her offensive moves has great potential to become a very dominant player with her size, athletic ability, and awareness.
Megan Koenigshof was a whirling dynamo for the Comets at the guard position. When Coloma lost their top ball handler, who quit half way through the season, Koenigshof took the ball and ran with it, so to speak. Megan played great on the defensive end and dished the ball capably on offense. She was also a very good rebounder with great awareness of where the ball was going to be coming off the rim. When Megan learns to play a little more under control, and with her court awareness she will have a great impact on the Comets run for a conference title next season.
Coloma also has several other young players coming back who gained a lot of experience this season, and will be a team to be reckoned with next season.
Coloma All Conference wrestlers
The Coloma Comet wrestling team continued to gain honors in the post season as they had four wrestlers earn their way onto the all-conference SAC team.
The Coloma wrestlers receiving honors were, senior Cody Reese wrestling at 145 pounds and finishing with a record of 37-11. Cole Alsup, a 285-pound junior, finished the season with a record of 40-8. Junior Ian Ishmael finished at 41-5 at 140 pounds. Caeleb Ishmael finished the year 44-10 wrestling at 103 pounds. Caeleb, Cole, and Cody all wrestled and finished on the podium at the state tourney. Ian Ishmael, Cole, and Cody, all picked up their 100th win during the season. Coach Kenny Ashley has plenty of talent coming back giving the Comet program plenty to look forward to in the future.
Approximately 200 runners and walkers compete for prizes and fun at 4th Annual St. Patrick’s Day race in Coloma
Coloma Township Hall was the place to be Saturday morning, as bright sunny skies belied the cool 31-degree temperature and a cool breeze blowing off Lake Michigan made it feel even cooler. But that didn’t deter nearly 200 men, women, children, and dogs, from coming to compete at the 4th Annual St. Pat’s Day 5K run/walk, and fun walk.
5K TOP RUNNERS… Jim Pancoast (right) was the overall winner and Tara Sabo (left) was the first female runner to cross the finish line Saturday morning at the 4th Annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk, held in Coloma Township. The event was hosted by the Coloma LEO and Coloma Lions clubs as part of Coloma’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)
This event which is growing in numbers each year is hosted by the Coloma LEO and Lions clubs. They had plenty of volunteers on hand to make this a top notch running event. There were folks here from around the state and some from Indiana to compete and enjoy an early season run, to kind of kick off the race season, and run off a little of the winter rust. The most senior runner was age 74 and the youngest competitors were all of 9 years old.
Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Coloma LEO Club, and also the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The top finisher in the run came across the finish line in 18:55.7, a respectable time given the time of year and the cool weather. He is Jim Pancoast, a 34-year-old male from St. Joseph. The first female and 6th overall finisher was Tara Sabo. Tara ran in the 30-39 age group, and ran a fine early season time of 21:11.3.
The 2nd and 3rd overall finishers came in sprinting to a photo finish, with 12-year-old B. Genovese nosing out 30-year-old Derek Seamark, 19:52.8 & 19:52.9 respectively.
Finishing as the second overall female was Crystal Cowgill from Hartford, in a time of 21:23.5. Finishing a whisker behind her was Thea Strand of St. Joe, in 21:24.0.
The first overall walker in the event was Sue Zvonar of Coloma in a time 39:58.4. It was a family affair for Sue, as two of her daughters managed to get out of bed for the early Saturday morning race. Lindsay LeValley and Jackie Zvonar also earned a medal in the event by finishing in second and third in the run, in the 20-29 age group.
The first male walker Ron Elzinga, who came from Fennville in spite of the ice covered highways, finished in a time of 43:09.7.
Jody Brown from Plymouth, Indiana, the fourth overall female runner, finished in a time of 21:48, and she ran the race with two of her dogs running along.
Linda Murray brought along her huge and beautiful Great Dane. Tri-City Record is uncertain of her race results but she was certain that no one was going to mess with her along the route.
Racing details and information, including the chip timing, was handled by the Southwest Michigan Racers. You can find more race information at swmiracers.org.
Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele
Hartford spring sports hit the “go” button this week
Hartford High School athletes literally blitzed their way right through the fall, and then trotted their way through the snowy winter. And now, they return to outdoor sports in the weeks ahead, as the diamonds, pitches and the track will be filled with athletes looking to compete for championships. Over the past week, teams have hosted practices and tryouts, and fans can only expect the very best performances during the final sports season of the school year.
The Hartford Varsity Baseball team, under the direction of Head Coach Gary Ackerman, began their season on Wednesday, March 20, with a doubleheader scheduled against non-conference opponent, South Haven. Last season, the Indians made their way through an up-and-down season, finishing in the middle to lower-half of the Southwest 10 Conference.
Their season ended with a loss to Gobles in five innings in the pre-district round of the postseason. This season, expectations appear to be higher, as the Indians return a team that will have plenty of experience, including several all-conference and all-district members.
The Hartford Varsity Softball team, under the direction of Head Coach Steve Galvan, also began their season on Wednesday, March 20, with a home doubleheader scheduled against South Haven. Like the baseball team, the Lady Indians experienced their good games and their bad games last season, but plenty of that can be attributed to youth and inexperience in several positions. The Lady Indians were able to advance past Bangor to reach the district finals last season, where they lost 6-0 to eventual state champion, Coloma. This season has the potential to be better, with experienced players returning and a push of youth that has plenty of talent.
Ladies spring soccer
The Hartford ladies’ varsity soccer team, under the direction of Head Coach Abel Robles, will begin their season on Tuesday, March 26 when they host non-conference opponent, Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic, for a match. The team, which only began varsity play just a few years ago, has been seeing its numbers rise each year, and with it, the results are also showing. They have been getting better year-in and year-out, and the expectation this season is for the gradual uptick to take on a greater hold.
Last season the team won the first-ever Southwest 10 Conference Championship, and was one of the schools selected to host a district. Unfortunately, they lost in the district semifinals to the eventual district champion, Holland Black River.
The Hartford ladies’ and men’s track teams, under the direction of head coaches Doug Paran (ladies) and Brad Manning (men), will take to the track for the first time in competition on Wednesday, March 27 when they host neighbor Lawrence for a non-conference track meet.
Last season may be described as a bit of an aberration for the track teams, with both teams winning a few meets, but also having their struggles where they are usually very strong. Despite this, both teams finished sixth out of ten teams in the final Southwest 10 Conference standings last season, and the men even won two events overall in the conference championships. This season, the numbers look fairly similar to last year, but expect that the results will greatly improve.
If anyone has a chance, go out and support Hartford’s student-athletes this spring. It is a sure thing they, along with the coaching staffs, greatly appreciate the support they receive from the community. However, for those can’t make it out to an athletic event this spring, they may always check out the Hartford Press Box and get the very latest each and every week, right here in the Tri-City Record. As always, Go Indians!
Press box Player of the Week
By Jerrod Birmele
Brandon Galvan, a senior at Hartford High School, is this week’s Press Box Player of the Week.
This winter, Brandon was one of the key pieces that led to the success of the Hartford boys’ basketball team. The team finished with an amazing 18 victories, which was the most wins the team has had in one season in more than a decade. Brandon finished the season having broken a single-season Hartford record in total three-point baskets made. When all was said and done, he converted on an astounding 78 shots from behind the arc, and his new school record may stand for quite a while.
For the season, Brandon finished with a total of 293 points in 21 games, which meant he averaged nearly 14 points per game. In those 21 appearances, he never scored fewer than eight points in any game, and he scored in double-digits 16 times, including three games where he scored 20 or more points. He recorded a season-high 24 points against Bangor on Jan. 25, and also had a pair of 20 point performances; once against Decatur on Dec. 18 and another against Cassopolis on Feb. 22.
Because of his achievements and success on the court, Brandon earned second team all-conference in the Southwest 10 Conference this season.
Outside of the basketball court, Brandon has suited up for the Indians on the soccer pitch in the fall. He was recognized as a member of the all-district team twice in his high school playing career.
In school, Brandon currently carries a 3.47 grade point average, was recently announced as a scholar-athlete and was awarded “Student of the Week” for the week of March 11 – 15. He has also volunteered his time helping with the youth basketball program in the community. After high school, he plans to attend either Grand Valley State University or Western Michigan University, but is still in the decision-making process.
Congratulations on this great honor, Brandon!