03-28-2019 Tri-City Area Sports

COLOMA WRESTLING CLUB… These wrestlers are advancing on to the state championship competition in the Michigan Youth Wrestling Association (MYWAY). Pictured (from the left) Front row: Ethan Schelling, Robert Brooks, Jayden Hampton, Brody Ashley, Brody Winnell, Drake Goldner; Back row: Dylan Groendyk, Carson Coble, Dakota Packard, Sebastian Martinez, Ross Smothers, Jason Baggett, and Cristian Alcaraz.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Wild weather wrecks havoc with Hartford Baseball and Softball openers Well, the Tri-Cities were just starting to get used to seeing the sunshine and the gradually warming temperatures across the area. That piqued the interest of the Hartford Varsity Baseball and Softball teams, who were scheduled to open the season last week with a home, non-conference doubleheader against South Haven. The Indians had been practicing for a little over two weeks, and the teams were ready to show what they are made of.

PLAY BALL! Pitcher Trey Goodson releases the ball during the Hartford Indians’ season opener at home against Paw Paw Monday evening. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other thoughts in mind. Games were initially scheduled to be played in Hartford on Wednesday, Mar. 20. Due to weather and poor field conditions, the games were moved to South Haven and were going to be played the following day on Thursday, Mar. 21. However, the weather actually worsened during the next 24 hours, and games were ultimately scrapped. As of press time, it appears that these games will not be made up. The cancellation of last weeks’ games means that both the varsity baseball and softball teams throw their first pitches of their season this week. The varsity baseball team played their home opener against non-conference foe Paw Paw on Monday. One day later, on Tuesday, Mar. 26, the varsity softball team played their first games in a home, non-conference doubleheader against Comstock. Many more athletic events, including more baseball and softball games, soccer matches and track meets will be contested in the coming weeks. When those events happen, you can read all about them in the Hartford Press Box. As always, Go Indians!

2019 Blossomtime Festival presents the 40th annual Run for the Buds 5K Run/Walk Saturday, May 4

Mark your calendar and lace up your running shoes… it’s Blossomtime and that means the Blossomtime Festival is gearing up for their 40th annual “Run for the Buds.” Run for the Buds is a chip-timed 5K Run/Walk along the Grand Floral Parade route. The 5K route starts and finishes in St. Joseph. The 5K route is an out and back course following Main Street in Benton Harbor. Free parking is available at the Berrien County Courthouse on the corner of Main and Port streets. Fees to participate are as follows: age 15 and over is $25 thru Apr. 19, $30 – Apr. 20 thru 26, $35 – Apr. 27 thru Race Day; 14 and under is $15 thru Apr. 19, $20 – Apr. 20 thru 26 and $25 – Apr. 27 thru Race Day. To register, visit https://www.active.com/saint-joseph-mi/running/distance-running-races/run-for-the-buds-2019. Overall Female and Male Finishers in the 5K Run and 5K Walk will receive awards. Age group medals will be awarded to the top three female and male finishers in each division. Race packets may be picked up the day before the race at Silver Harbor Brewing Company, 721 Pleasant Street, St. Joseph, MI on Friday, May 3 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Same day registration and packet pickup begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Start/Finish line located on Ship Street near the St. Joseph Post Office in downtown St. Joseph. The race starts at 10:30 a.m. The awards ceremony will start at approximately 11:30 a.m. Jonny Reinhardt from Midwest Family Broadcasting will be on hand to provide music and announcements during the race. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Blossomtime Festival Scholarship Fund. As the oldest and largest multi-community festival in the state of Michigan, they believe in helping young people of Southwest Michigan be the very best they can be. The Blossomtime Festival Scholarship Fund was set up to give financial support to young men and women to further their education and pursue their dreams. Blossomtime stands behind 113 years of tradition, community service, honoring the values set before them, and celebrating our beautiful and prosperous farms, fruit orchards and the agriculture that puts Southwest Michigan on the map. By supporting the Blossomtime Festival and Run for the Buds, it is supporting the hopes and dreams and the future of Southwest Michigan! Share in the fun-filled week to celebrate their 113th year as a festival!

Press Box Player of the Week

By Dave Vollrath Ian Ishmael, a Coloma High School junior is this week’s Press Box Player of the Week. Ian has just finished a highly successful wrestling season for the Comets, and helped lead them to a final overall record of 14-14 on the season. Even though Ian missed out in qualifying for the state tournament this year, he still has to be proud of all he achieved. Ian finished his season with a fantastic record of 41-5 wrestling in the 140 pound weight class, and he takes great pride in the fact that he was never pinned once this season. In February Ian picked up a milestone win, with the 100th of his career.

Dr. Andy says… “Rest is important for you to be healthy. The body does most of its healing while we sleep. A good night’s sleep is critical for a healthy body. Chiropractic can help your body relax and make it easier to get that sleep.”

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

None of the sports teams have played in competitions in the last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean they have been idle. Watervliet Athletics had post-season banquets for basketball and wrestling, and the spring sports teams are working hard indoors and hoping for good weather to dry out the fields. The baseball and softball teams played their first games Wednesday, Mar. 27 and girls’ soccer on Tuesday. Track meets start on April 10, after spring break. Check Watervliet Press Box in future issues for results of spring sporting events.

Winter sports banquets

The wrestling team had their banquet last week and 14 varsity letters were awarded. Trever Pelton won the 110% award, and Santiago Wilkinson was named most improved.

The team had a good season winning their second consecutive team district championship. On the individual side Matt Melcher finished 4th place in Division 3, while both Trever Pelton and Alex Isbrecht joined Matt in qualifying for the state meet. Trever and Matt were named 1st Team SAC All-Conference. Five more wrestlers earned honorable mention, including Nathan Isbrecht, Alex Isbrecht, Jordan Angelo, Santiago Wilkinson, and Don Smith.

Varsity wrestling will graduate two seniors, Melcher and Coby Henslee. In looking to the future, the middle school program is sending several good wrestlers up to the varsity next season.

The boys’ basketball team ended up on the wrong end of a lopsided record. The team was very young due to losing two expected starters to non-basketball injuries before the season. Freshman Andrew Chisek led the team with 13.5 points per game, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists per game. Sophomore Dylan Lawson finished with 9.3 points per game, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game.

The team will be young again next year but with plenty of valuable experience and the benefit of a summer program run by Coach Josh Beckmann and his father Joe, who coached for decades and took two teams to the state finals winning a state championship in 1989.

At their banquet Chisek was named MVP, and junior Cole Pline was named most improved player. Austin Roberts was given the Leadership Award, Dylan Lawson the Rebounding Award, and Jakob Aldrich, who sat out the entire season with a shoulder injury, was given the Dedication Award. Chisek was also named to SAC All-Conference Honorable Mention.

DOUBLE THREAT… Watervliet senior Celina Klimkiewicz cranked out an RBI double during the Panthers’ scrimmage against visiting St. Joe Monday evening. Klimkiewicz also took the mound for Watervliet as the starting pitcher. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The girls’ basketball team started slow but finished strong, going 2-3. Their season came to an end in the district finals against Brandywine, whose only loss would come in the quarterfinals against eventual state champion Pewamo-Westphalia.

Elaine Koshar led the team with 7.7 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. Celina Klimkiewicz was just behind with 7.1 points per game, and Victoria Smith finished with 6.2 points per game. They graduate eight seniors this year and will be young next year. The good news is that next years’ freshmen are a talented group and the future looks bright for the team.

Meanwhile, at their banquet last week Coach Ken Dietz talked about how hard the team continued to work all season despite the direction their season was taking and their 4-16 record. Celina was named MVP, and Victoria Smith was named Top Defender.

Coach Dietz started the season with three goals, that they work hard, be coachable, and have fun. They did, and the Work Hard award was presented to Elaine Koshar. Celina earned the Be Coachable award, and Mikalah Clay was presented with the Have Fun award. Smith, Koshar, and Klimkiewicz were all named SAC All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Interesting to note, senior Emma Yazel’s departure ends a string of 27 straight years of Hutchins/Yazel family participation in WHS girls basketball.

The Winter Cheer team also had their banquet recently. The team was at all the home games and traveled with the varsity basketball teams to most of their away games, providing plenty of team spirit. Jazlynn Cowgill was named MVP, Jaylin Daugherty was named most improved, and Riley McKinney earned the Most Spirited award.

Baseball preview

Coach Josh Tremblay’s baseball team is coming off a 20-2 season, SAC championship in 2018 and a heartbreaking premature departure from the district tournament. While younger than and not as deep as the 2018 team, this year’s group is versatile and should be able to benefit from new pitch-count rules to earn an advantage.

Leading the way are fourth-year All-Region players Garrett Matthews and Jakob Aldrich. They lead the pitching staff which includes returning senior Tommy Swanson and returning junior Nick Polaskey. Eric Kehrer is the other returning letterman and will handle first base.

New pitchers this year are juniors Jordan Angelo, Cole Pline, and freshman Andrew Chisek. Other new players are junior Dylan Tucker and sophomores Evan Hutchins, Dylan Lawson, and Caleb Bell.

The team played their first games Wednesday at Hartford, and the busy season begins at full speed after next week’s spring break.

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Big numbers for Comet track teams, give hope for another big season

Coloma Comet head track coach Bruce Dings, no stranger to the Comet faithful, has about 40 athletes out for the boys’ track team and 23 girls out for the girls’ team. Coach Dings, who coached the Comet JV football team for many years and had great success in doing so, has also coached the high school track team for more than a few years, and is looking for more of the kind of success the Comet tracksters enjoyed last season.

More than just sheer numbers, Coloma returns plenty of speed to compete in the 400 and under races; they also have plenty of experience returning in the field events. Sin’cere Taylor and Caleb Ellis both return with speed to burn, as both were on the Comet relay teams that excelled at the state meet last spring. Comet junior Cole Alsup also returns for Coach Dings. Cole qualified last year for the state meet in the discus.

Last year, with Taylor and Ellis each running a leg on the 4×200 relay, the Comets won the state championship. Those same two also ran on the 2nd place finishing 4×400 relay team.

LAUNCHING THE TRACK SEASON… Hartford junior Carter Gendron practiced his pole vaulting launch Monday evening in 42 degree, windy weather. The Indians opened their regular track and field season Wednesday at home. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Comet boys finished in 7th place at the state meet, competing in Division 3. They also finished in 2nd place in the SAC conference meet, and 2nd place in the state qualifying regional meet.

Sin’cere Taylor has been competing this winter in indoor events and has already posted some career best times, which bodes well for the Comet team. James Clay will also be returning to compete with Cole in both the discus and shot put events. Juniors Mark Newman and Cole Current will be the Comet pole vault squad.

Running the longer distances will be Adiel Granados and Blane Sutherland. Michael Dancer and Nick Fogarty will be running in the 400 and under events and were also state qualifiers last season.

Coach Dings has been impressed with the progress of many others on the Comet squad including, Tayte Coleman, Cameron Neubecker, Cannon Hodges, Caeleb Ishmael, Noah Schwanke, and Kenny Crowder. There are other underclassmen that are making steady progress and showing improvement.

On the girls’ side of the track team, Marissa Sherburn will be returning to compete in the 400 runs and under. Samantha Scott and Cassidy Dryer return for their senior seasons in the high jump and the 400. Alexia Saucedo will be back running in the sprints. Emily Greenman will do the pole vaulting, and Kayla Smith will run in the 800.

Then you will have freshmen Breana Tillotson and Ava Genovese to run in the 400 and above.

The Comets have quite a few home meets on the schedule for this year, and a couple at next door neighbor Watervliet’s track, so come on out and cheer on our boys and girls and show them that Comet Pride.

Comet Baseball has lofty goals for the coming season

As Coloma Comet varsity baseball head coach Kevin VanPeteghem (also known as coach V) begins his 8th season at the helm, he really likes the chances for this team to accomplish some great things. In total Coach V, has been in the Comet dugout for 18 seasons, with this being his 8th as the head man.

Coach V has an overall record of 135-116, and is looking for even more success from his team this year. He believes this year he has a little more depth than last year and really likes the way his team has been bonding in the preseason and also the friendly but competitive competition going on for playing time. This team has players back who have plenty of varsity experience, mixed in with players who have worked their way up through the program, and younger players who have played a lot of baseball and are ready to compete at the varsity level.

Last year the Comets finished with an overall record of 18-17. They placed second in the Lakeshore Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and then hit their stride as they won the district title. They then went to the final of the regional before bowing out of the state tournament. Coach V believes that if this team can continue to work and improve at a steady pace they will compete for the SAC Lakeshore title, and move deeper into the state tournament. Winning the district a year ago has made them even hungrier for greater success.

The strength of this team should be in the depth of pitching, great overall team speed, and should be solid defensively. Leading returner for the Comets is all-conference 1st team infielder Ethan Price, a junior, who was the Comet leading hitter a year ago, averaging a little over .300. Returning also with all-conference honorable mentions are junior Kenyon Boyd, an excellent center fielder who also does some pitching, and Nathan Wilder a senior and 3rd year starter behind the plate.

Other seniors on this squad are Hunter Crist, who is back for his 3rd year of varsity competition, and Matthew Kennedy in his second year.

The biggest group comes from the junior class including, Jacob Hammond, Ian Ishmael, Isaiah Reinhardt, Nick Eastman, and Connor Bittner. There is only one sophomore on the team, Kevin Hearn, who was the Comet starter at first base last year.

The freshmen who made the team are Dylan Nelson, Jake Ickes, and Ethan Vandermolen. Coach V will be assisted on the bench by coaches Jack Goodrick, and Rand Eastman. The baseball managers are Brodie McQuillan and Skyler Wolfe.

Coach V believes this will be a fun team to watch, and with 10 home dates on the schedule there is ample opportunity to watch these guys compete and show them Comet Pride.


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