04-12-2018 Tri-City Area Sports

Both the Southwestern Athletic and Southwest 10 conferences recently announced First Team and Honorable Mention award winners. Individuals from Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet were recognized for their efforts on the mat.

In the SAC, Coloma’s Blane Sutherland, Ian Ishmael, Cody Reese, and Jamane Smith Jr. received First Team recognition for their work in the 112, 135, 140, and 189 lb. weight classes, respectively.

HIS WAY… Trever Pelton, a sophomore at Watervliet High School, was crowned champion of the Michigan Youth Wrestling Association’s 106 lb. weight class. Pelton wrestled his way to a 20-0 record to top his opponents and win the MYWAY championship title on March 26 at Wing’s Event Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

For Watervliet, Trever Pelton (103 lbs.), Klayton Marshall (130 lbs.), Logan Swigart (189 lbs.), and Matt Melcher (215 lbs.) scored First Team honors.

Honorable Mention honors went to Coloma’s Shane Champion (125 lbs.), Michael Case (152 lbs.), and Cole Alsup (heavyweight).

Watervliet’s Dillon Clemons (112 lbs.) and Alex Isbrecht (119 lbs.) also received Honorable Mention nods.

In the SW10, Jared Foerster (103 lbs.) and Noah Wade (heavyweight) earned First Team All-Conference awards.

Tye Phillips (112 lbs.) and James Terry (189 lbs.) were awarded Honorable Mention accolades.

Congratulations, wrestlers!

Paw Paw Lake the place to be this summer

 There is plenty of exciting news coming from Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club for the upcoming boating season.  Past commodore and Paw Paw Lake Community Sailing Foundation president Jeff Phillips has shared a comprehensive list of events offered by the yacht club.

Mark your calendars as the club will host the Great Lakes Star Sailboat Championship September 7 through 9.  According to Phillips, “This is likely to be the largest and most prestigious regatta ever held on Paw Paw Lake.”

The race will be the 2018 District 4 Championship.  Phillips commented that top sailors from Canada and the Great Lakes states are invited to participate in the races.  Additionally, teams throughout the United States may have the opportunity to join in the fun.

Returning to the club and waters of the Paw Paw Lake will be the community sailing schools. Two youth “Learn to Sail” classes will be held at the club the weeks of July 9 and 16 from 9:00 a.m. until noon. The cost to participate in the one-week class is $140 if kids are registered before June 1. Visit sjjf.org for additional information or to sign up your non-experienced youth boater today.

Youngsters ages eight to 18 receive instruction in boating safety, how to sail, and proper boating etiquette out on the water.  This is a great class for those who want to be more comfortable on and learn how to navigate the water.

Students will be joined by U.S. Sailing-certified instructors on Optimists (Opti’s), Vanguard 420s, Lasers, or Buccaneer sailboats.

Phillips stated, “Thanks to donations from our community, the PPL Sailing Foundation now owns 17 sailboats and two safety boats.”

The club has a new offering for the second week of the “Learn to Sail” program.  They will be offering an afternoon STEM class called “Become a Marine Engineer,” which will teach kids how to engineer, design, build, and race a model sailboat. The afternoon STEM class will follow the morning “Learn to Sail” class. The cost is $75 and registration is available at pplyc.org.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Marine Division will offer a child/adult Boater Safety Class on Saturday, June 9. The class will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will conclude at 4:00 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to earn a boating certificate.

The boating safety class will be offered free of charge and is open to individuals 10 years old and up.  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

The class will also serve as an opportunity for adults under the age of 39 to get their jet ski operator certification, which is required by the state.

Adults can get in on the learning fun as well! The club will host a “Discover Your Sea Legs” program for interested parties who aren’t comfortable or experienced on the water. The two-day course will set your mind at ease as you learn boating terminology, basic maneuvers, and discover – or re-discover – a love of the lake.

The cost for the class is $50 and registration is by appointment. Contact Phillips at (269) 201-7012.

All classes and events will be held at Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club, located at 5099 Shoreview Road in Coloma. For more information, visit pplyc.org.

Another date to circle on your calendars is Sunday, August 5 as the Grand City Skiers return to Paw Paw Lake for their annual water skiing show. The free event can be witnessed from the banks of the lake or by boat. This popular show features water skiing acts by a great troupe originally founded in 1978 as the West Michigan Water Ski Association. The group entertains viewers with high flying flips off boat ramps, pyramids three levels high, and acrobatic moves from their skiers.

As you can see, Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club continues to celebrate the sports of boating, skiing, and lifelong learning.  They continue to increase their offerings each year and this jewel is definitely an asset to our community.

Ron Farac: “Stunned, Honored” to be inducted into Watervliet’s Hall of Fame

Ron Farac has a long, storied history with deep roots planted in Watervliet athletics. In 1972, Farac began his illustrious coaching career by helming the Watervliet freshman basketball team. It would be his first season as a Panther coach and marked the start of a 63-season long career that spanned three sports.

Farac was coach of the football team, as the head coach for the 1984-1994 and 2002-2005 squads. He was also a member of the coaching staff from 1973-1982.

Under his leadership the 1985, 1986, 1994, and 2005 teams won league titles.

Farac was the head coach of the varsity track team from 1973-1987 and 1993-2014. Under his tutelage, athletes won league titles in 1978, 1979, 1980, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

His legacy is enduring, his commitment unmatched.  Therefore, it is no surprise that Ron Farac was nominated and inducted into the Watervliet Hall of Fame as one of the ten-member first class.

“Let me thank and congratulate Watervliet Athletic Director Ken Dietz for his vision in establishing a Watervliet Athletic Hall of Fame,” Farac stated. “When Ken called, I don’t know how I spoke or acted. I was stunned, honored, and taken aback. Words escaped me then, and still escape me now.

“I am humbled and honored to enter the Watervliet Athletic Hall of Fame alongside Coach [Gerald] Barchett and Coach [Eugene] Bednarowski who, along with Watervliet principal/superintendent Ken Bannen, were my mentors and were instrumental in anything positive I may have done during [my] 42-year journey at Watervliet.”

Although it was Farac on the field, Farac researching his opponents, Farac inspiring his teams and his athletes, he is quick to share his success. “As a coach you cannot have gained admittance to a hall of fame without some degree of success.  Any success I may have had is directly attributable to those three men, as well as all of the coaches with whom I have worked alongside and from whom I have learned, and all of the Watervliet athletes with whom I was gifted and blessed to coach. I enter the Hall of Fame with each and every one of them.”

To ask Farac to select a favorite memory or team causes a moment of pause. “As a coach, your teams are all special and memorable.  The teams you coached at the beginning of an era, as well as the ones at the end of that era always hold a special place in your heart. But in between were many teams in that 42-year, 63-season span of coaching that brought me great joy and pride and who now fill me with great memories.  I still get to see many of those athletes, and we can still share the stories and remembrances of those years and contests.  To pick one moment or team would be a disservice to the others, but they know who they are and how I feel about them.”

With a .600 winning percentage in football and .733 winning percentage in track, Farac knows a thing or two about how to be a great coach. He knows when to push, when to pull, and when to stand silent in the moment.

“No victory is better than a ‘team’ victory.  It is a shared experience that bonds team members and coaches for life.  The lessons of doing your job, doing it well, working hard, working together, making memories, making sacrifices, for each other and a cause greater than yourself, are what we take away from team sports.

“Team sports is a fraternity, a sorority, a family that brings people together for a common goal.”

Farac no longer graces the sidelines with a clipboard in his hand. He doesn’t stand with a stopwatch near a finish line. Forever, though, he remains a Panther, a fan of the maroon and white. He and his wife Peg collectively taught at Watervliet for 74 years. They raised two children who were Panthers as well; Ben graduated in 2006 with Jessica following in 2009.

“Having a wonderful family life is something I cherish, never take for granted, and am proud and thankful to possess,” Farac shared. “Professionally, [I am most proud] that I was given the opportunity to teach and coach at Watervliet.  I was given phenomenal mentors, colleagues, students, and athletes with whom to work.  I am proud to have been a part of the Panther experience and hope I was, in some way, able to give as good as I was given.”

Humility. Patience. Aptitude. Endurance. All apply to Farac, as a coach, as a teacher, as a man. So does humor.

“Athletically, I start every morning with a three- to five-mile walk along the shores of Paw Paw Lake with fellow retired Watervliet coaches Geoff Geisler, Dave Wheeler, and Bob Freed.  We talk sports, follow the Panthers, and generally harass each other the entire time. It is a humbling, humorous, and vigorous start to my mornings.”

Congratulations, Coach Farac, on your induction into the Watervliet Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018.

MHSAA announces 2018-19 School Classifications

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced several classification changes for the upcoming 2018-19 school year. The classifications are based on enrollment numbers.

Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet will not change classifications for the upcoming school year.   Coloma is classified as Class B, with Hartford and Watervliet having Class C status, and Watervliet Grace Christian is Class D.

Two other Berrien County schools were affected and will have their classification changed.  Lakeshore will move down from Class A to Class B.

Additionally, New Buffalo is moving from Class C to Class D competition.

The enrollment categories include: schools with 885 or more students are considered Class A.  Class B schools have between 398-884 students.  Schools designated as Class C count the number of students between 194 and 397. Schools with fewer than 193 students are identified as Class D.

There will be 186 schools in both the Class A and Class C designations, while 188 schools make up Class B.  Class D will contain 187 schools.

Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, only one sport will be classified according to letters (A, B, C, or D). Both eight- and eleven-player football will continue with the letter designation. All other sports, including volleyball and basketball, have changed to divisions (1, 2, 3, or 4).

Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet are considered Division 3 schools, with Grace Christian classified as Division 4.

Coloma Comets have spirit, yes they do!

The faithful fans of the Coloma Comets came up big in Michigan state senator John Proos’ Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Coloma was named tournament champion Monday by Proos following an all out battle royal.

Students, fans, and everyone in between were encouraged to upload photos to Facebook and Twitter, “like” albums online, share posts by Proos, and leave comments on his Facebook page and Twitter feed, all in an effort to score “points” in the tournament.

All Southwest Michigan schools participated and were divided into four brackets, much like the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Coloma faced Three Rivers in the St. Joseph River bracket’s opening round. In the Sweet 16, the Comets topped Centreville. Coloma tackled Berrien Springs in the Elite 8.

The Comets joined Michigan Lutheran, River Valley, and Edwardsburg in the Final Four.

Coloma came out on top in the semi-finals to face the Mustangs of River Valley for the traveling trophy.

Coloma cruised to the championship in the school spirit tourney.

The contest began March 5 and, according to Proos, was “designed to foster creativity by giving students and alumni an avenue to showcase their school spirit.”

Watervliet, last year’s champion, received a first round bye. They were knocked out of the tournament by River Valley in the Sweet 16 round.

Cold temperatures not cool for Indian baseball and softball

Monday’s varsity baseball and softball games pitting the visiting Gobles Tigers against the Indians of Hartford were cancelled due to cold temperatures.

Coloma varsity baseball alumni scrimmage on Saturday

Coloma varsity baseball alumni are holding their 2nd annual scrimmage/batting practice on Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 a.m. against the current Coloma Comet’s varsity team.  The scrimmage will be played at the school baseball field on West St. Joseph Street. All alumni players are invited to participate.

The community is invited to attend this free event. The concession stand will be open and T-shirts will be sold.

Kyle Busch reins in Texas Motor Speedway victory Kyle Busch roped his first victory of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunday after the drivers returned from their version of Spring Break week. Busch battled back a charging Kevin Harvick to take the win in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Busch, who also won Stage 2, led a race-high 116 laps en route to picking up his 44th career victory. The driver of the M&Ms Toyota earned his first win and fifth top five of the season. Harvick settled for the runner-up spot. He won the first stage winner and led 87 laps. Harvick has five top five finishes – including three consecutive wins – this year. Jamie McMurray finished third and earned his first top five finish this season. McMurray had failed to crack the top 15 in 2018 until Sunday. Erik Jones, who hails from Byron, Michigan, led 64 laps and took fourth place. He has four top 10 finishes this year. Rounding out the field in fifth place was Ryan Blaney. Blaney scored his third top five of the season. Drivers who also led laps but did not finish in the top five included: pole sitter Kurt Busch (40), William Byron (1), Chase Elliott (4), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (10), and Denny Hamlin (12). The highest finishing rookie in the race was Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr., who crossed the finish line in eighth place. The seventh race of the season featured 16 lead changes and eight caution periods for 48 laps during the 334 circuits. Busch continues to lead the driver standings. He has a 38-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano. Blaney is in third, 51 points back from the leader. Harvick is in fourth place with just eight points separating him from Harvick. Last year’s Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., is fifth overall, 66 points behind Busch. The teams traveled to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Sunday running of the Food City 500. Jimmie Johnson won last April’s go-round at Bristol, but Busch took the checkered flag in the fall. Can Busch make two consecutive runs for the trophy, or will Johnson pick up his first win of the season? See you next week as we wrap up the race!


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