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06-04-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma Comet athletes continue to receive accolades

The Coloma Comet seniors will be a part of history that will be remembered for many negative happenings, but with the hard work of the Coloma High School staff and senior parents they will also have many fond and unique memories of their last days as a high school student.

Two weeks ago Wendy Goodline, the Comet athletic director, enlisted the help of several of the Coloma varsity coaches and traveled around the community personally handing out many awards, plaques, and certifications of exceptional achievement to all the senior Comet award winners. The awards were both from the SAC Conference and also from the top honors handed out each year by the Coloma high school staff.

Then on Friday May 29, the school and the whole community came together to honor 2020 Coloma seniors with a parade through town. Adorned in their cap and gowns, the seniors were driven in a parade of vehicles, SUVs, convertible cars, and other forms of transportation, as the streets were lined with congratulatory townsfolk honoring the latest class of Coloma Comet alumni, while of course following the social distancing guidelines. It was a unique and successful event and greatly appreciated by the graduates and their parents.

Comet elite three sports club

The Coloma Comet elite three sports club this year has six members. Each of these athletes has competed in at least three sports in all four years of their career. That kind of commitment can really take a toll, as they are competing in a sport virtually every season of their high school career. All six of these new members to the club are outstanding young people, who not only competed hard as an athlete but also were outstanding students in the classroom.

There were two females in this list. Megan Neubecker is our first 3-sport athlete being acknowledged. She played volleyball, basketball, and softball, all four years of her career as a Comet. Megan was also named as the Neil Peters Award winner, and will be going on to play volleyball and continue her education at Lake Michigan College.

Marissa Sherburn is the next three sporter on our list. Marissa played volleyball, basketball, and ran track and cross-country through her years at Coloma High School. Her favorite sport was basketball, and Marissa will be continuing her education at the University of Michigan.

Four senior boys complete the list for this year. Ian Ishmael will be Plebe at the Naval Academy in a very short while, but while at Coloma Ian was a 3-sport athlete for 4 years. His top sport was wrestling, and he also ran cross-country, and played football and baseball to earn his way onto this list.

Kenyon Boyd was a hard runner and hard hitter on the football field, and he also roamed center field on the Coloma baseball team, and played basketball to round out a great athletic career as a Comet.

Alec DeLaTorre is our next 3-sport club member. Alec played football, wrestled, and ran track all four years of high school. He has also been involved as a volunteer for the North Berrien Fire Rescue Department.

Charlie Cullitan was a bulldog as the center of the Coloma Comet football O-Line, as Charlie has a lot of drive. He also was a hard competitor on the lanes, as a Comet varsity bowler, and on the track to earn him a 3-sport career.

Coloma SAC Conference Academic / Athletic Award winners

The Coloma senior class of 2020 continued to be honored by the Southwest Athletic Conference, this time being honored for their work as an athlete as well as a student. The names on this list are very familiar names and have been mentioned often in this column, as they continue to rack up the awards. Making this team of Comets, named to the SAC Academic / Athletic Award are Ian Ishmael, Kelsey Ellis, Amaria Echols, Vanessa Crisenbery, Nick Eastman, Nathan Struck, Marissa Sherburn, Megan Koenigshof, and Emma Vandermolen.

Once again we congratulate all the Coloma award winners, and wish you all the best in the future.

Optimistic sign of the future of fall athletics

In an optimistic sign this week, in a week where the people in the State of Michigan were finally allowed to come out of their homes, the SAC, of which Coloma is a member, released the schedule for some dates for fall athletics.

The Coloma football schedule has a couple of new teams listed, even though they are not new opponents to Coloma sports. The Comet football squad will start their season on the road at Comstock. Coloma then goes on to play South Haven at home, Lawton at home, at Delton Kellogg, home vs. Kalamazoo United, home vs. Fennville, at Parchment, home vs. Watervliet, and finish the season at Constantine.

National sports spotlight

The baseball fans around the country are patiently waiting for some news to come out regarding the possibility of having a baseball season in 2020. The fact that many of our great states are beginning to open up a little, following a 3-month lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gives the fans even more hope for a major league baseball season. For the long-time fans, such as myself, the one certain thing about the game is there is never a hurry. It is said to be a slow moving game, and certainly can be at times, but the slow play on the field is nothing compared to when the players and owners try to negotiate a long-term agreement.

At the current time the information coming out is all over the place, from playing a shortened season of 82 games to 120 games. And there still remains the chance of no baseball in 2020 because the two sides won’t be able to come to an agreement before the time runs out to hold any semblance of a season. Currently ESPN sports networks are airing live baseball games early in the mornings, from the Korean Baseball Organization. It’s the closest thing we currently have to active sports anywhere in the world.

The Korean league, in South Korea, isn’t at a major league level as we know it here in the U.S., but in the opinion of many it’s about on a double or triple A level, so it is very tolerable and refreshing to watch even though they are still playing in empty ballpark. Fans are still not allowed because of the virus. Hey, it’s baseball, it’s on TV, and it’s live – I’m in!

Hang in there sports fans, with all that is currently happening around our country we need our sports teams as much as ever to help bind us all back together.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford athletes honored during virtual Senior Athletic Awards night

Over the past few editions, we have been documenting our great Hartford Class of 2020, and their accomplishments on our athletic courts and fields. During this trying time in our history, we know it has been difficult to process the fact that seniors were not able to finish their athletic careers on the fields and tracks this spring. However, last week, many student-athletes were honored during a virtual senior athletic awards night.

Hartford’s athletic director, Nick Blackmer, began the ceremony by echoing his sadness about not being able to be together on this special night, adding, “We have amazing facilities here at Hartford… but without you, the student-athletes, they are not special. YOU are what makes sports special; the student-athlete. YOU are what make sports great.”

His message was echoed by several coaches who sent in poignant video messages for the student-athletes they helped to mature and prosper during their high school athletic careers. Coaches who sent in messages included Brad Manning (football, powerlifting and boys track), Kristen Deckard (competitive cheerleading), Luke Golas (boys cross-country, powerlifting and boys track), Doug Paran (girls cross-country and girls track), Blackmer (boys soccer), Jamin Olds (girls basketball), John Johnson (boys basketball), Matthew Nilson (wrestling), Patty Matheny (volleyball) and Steve Galvan (softball).

For the first awards of the night, Blackmer introduced the “Four-Year Varsity Award” recipients, given to those who played on a varsity team every year during their high school career. Award winners included Miguel Cardoso (boys soccer), Jessica Cardoso (girls soccer), Jaelyne Galvan (softball), Joey Lehmkuhl (baseball), Francisco Medrano (boys cross-country), Jerri Mendoza (boys soccer), Megan Nelson (girls basketball and softball), Nick Pultz (boys soccer), Elijah Rodarte (baseball), Regan Sinclair (softball), Joel Soto (boys soccer) and James Terry (wrestling).

The next set of awards to be presented were “Southwest 10 Conference Scholar-Athlete Awards”, given to those who carry a 3.25 grade point average or higher, and have four or more varsity letters in two different sports. Award winners included Aldo Acevedo, Jessica Cardoso, David Fernandez, Jessica Huaracha, Isabelle Heminger, Joey Lehmkuhl, Francisco Medrano, Yovana Naranjo, Megan Nelson, Nick Pultz, Joel Soto, James Terry and Esther Ugalde.

The next award to be presented was the “Indian Pride Award”, given to an athlete that has participated in three or more sports during all four years in high school. Megan Nelson was the lone recipient of the award, having played volleyball, girls basketball and softball during her time at Hartford High School.

The last, and most special, award given out during this evening was the “Harold Robinson Award”, given to the most outstanding male and female senior athlete. In introducing the award, former teacher and current student advocate, Rick Ward, called Robinson a “great athlete, student and citizen; who exemplified all good in people.” Robinson was a four sport athlete at Hartford, who attended Michigan State University. While at MSU as a junior, he died instantly from a heart condition while getting off a bus. A year after his passing, the decision was made to create the award in his honor.

The honored recipients of the Harold Robinson Award for 2020 were David Fernandez and Yovana Naranjo.

In closing the virtual festivities, Blackmer left some outstanding words of advice for the graduating class. He encouraged seniors to “establish your own MVP process to help guide you for what’s ahead”. He added, “M is for mission – what do you want to do? V is for vision – how are you going to accomplish your mission? What steps do you need to take? P is for principles – what core values do you want to stand by as you move through life?”

He concluded, “All of your coaches are very proud of you. I am very proud of you, and miss you all. You, the students, are what make Hartford athletics so special. Good luck to you all; once an Indian, always an Indian. Go Green.”

A look back: Hartford senior stories to be continued

Because of the senior athletic awards night occurring last week, the senior stories have been delayed until a future edition of the Tri-City Record. Returning to this column in the coming weeks will be our continued look back at the seniors of the Class of 2020. Next, we will take a look back at the boys soccer team, which won Southwest 10 Conference and district championship honors last fall. Get ready for some great stories in the coming weeks!

As always, GO INDIANS!

Press Box Player of the Week!

Jessica Cardoso, a senior at Hartford High School, and a member of the Lady Indian volleyball and soccer teams, is the Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for June 4, 2020.

Jessica dedicated herself to Indian Athletics throughout her high school career and may never have received the accolades some of her teammates did but never gave less than 100% every chance she got. On the volleyball court, she was a first-year player last season, and was the steady, defensive specialist the team needed in those critical moments, and in turn, had a solid season. She finished the season having served 10 aces, spiking two kills and racking up 65 digs.

On the soccer pitch, Jessica was a midfielder who would have entered her final season with a career total of three goals and three assists.

During the recent virtual senior athletic awards night, Jessica received her four-year award for soccer, and was named as a Southwest 10 Conference Scholar Athlete.

However, her greatest accomplishments, as it should be, came in the classroom. She left Hartford High School as an honors graduate, and was a member of the top ten of the Class of 2020. Her dedication to studies earned her honors or high honors throughout her time at HHS, where she was a second-year member of the National Honor Society, received her third-year academic award and earned Certificates of Merit in Accounting and Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates. In addition, she dual enrolled at Lake Michigan College, where she made the fall “part-time” dean’s list.

Outside of her studies, Jessica was the Vice President of her class and this past fall was crowned as the Homecoming Queen.

Congratulations on this great honor, Jessica! Thank you for all the memories you have given Hartford fans over the last four years. We wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

MHSAA sets guidelines for summer

The rules about what we can do and where we can go are changing rapidly, and nowhere are the rules more unsettled than high school sports. The MHSAA recently released a complex series of guidelines for summer sports activities, spanning eight pages of limits and restrictions based on the public health situation as it improves. We’re not into stage 1 yet, so here are the rules as of now.

Michigan’s “Safer-at-Home” order runs through June 12. Until then, there can be no use of any school facilities and there can be no organized on-site athletic activity, including conditioning or competition, until the current stay-at-home order expires or is lifted. When the order expires or is lifted, return-to-activity recommendations may be implemented locally by school districts provided the district declares its facilities open to students and staff and the 2019-20 school year has ended based on the district’s last originally-scheduled school day.

As of press time the only activity allowed is individual outdoor recreational activity including walking, hiking, conditioning, and running. If this activity takes place with more than one person present, it must be in groups of fewer than 10 with social distancing and the activity cannot involve school coaches, be school sponsored, or occur at any school facility until at least June 13. Virtual communication and instruction from coaches to students is permitted under MHSAA rules in all sports during the summer, as always. For example, a coach could remotely provide a conditioning workout plan to a student to complete on his or her own, but a coach cannot be onsite directing or supervising any activity until the current order expires on June 12.

Clear as mud? You bet, but the guidelines will be more obvious and schools will provide coaches and athletes with plain instructions in the coming days and weeks.

(Editor’s note: Watervliet Press Box column was submitted for publication prior to Gov. Whitmer lifting the “Safer-at-Home” order effective Monday, June 1.)

2020 Lady Panther varsity softball team

Meanwhile, let’s take a moment to highlight the 2020 Lady Panther varsity softball team. Coach Tom Golden’s team returned six players from last season and features four freshmen.

The team was led by senior and fourth-year player Alex Worley. Last season Alex hit .341 with 44 hits, six doubles, six triples, and 27 RBI. She also earned First Team All-Conference and All-District honors, and was named the defensive player of the year.

The only other senior was Serena Reyna. Last season Serena hit .273 with a .403 on-base percentage OBP and scored 19 runs. A career-long pitcher, she didn’t get any opportunities last season but turned that around this season by being named one of three pitchers on the team.

Junior Sophia Warsko was poised to hold down left field in her second year on the team. She scored 17 runs and had 11 walks last season.

Junior Natalie Knight was in her second year on the team. Natalie caught 152 innings last season and expected to do the same this year. Natalie threw out 20 out of 27 base-runners in 2019.

Sophomore Hannah Hart was in her second year with the varsity. Last season Hannah pitched 100 innings and won eight games. She was expected to easily increase those numbers this season. At the plate, Hannah hit two home runs and had 17 RBI last season.

Sophomore Addison Riley was in her second year, as well, on the team. As a freshman, Addy received All Conference Honorable Mention. She is a solid first baseman and had the second highest RBI total on the team last year with 26.

Sophomore Haiden Edelberg was in her first year on the team. Haiden is one of four pitchers and can play second base when not pitching. Haiden was looking forward to many quality innings on the mound.

Sophomore Taylor Harris played third base and was also able to catch in her first year on the team. Taylor brought power to the lineup and depth behind the plate.

Freshman Jaylie Querfurth patrols the outfield and worked hard in the off season to earn the final spot on the pitching staff.

Freshman Alysse Angelo plays just about everywhere, giving the Panthers depth on defense and strength at the plate.

Freshman Samantha Dietz holds down the shortstop position. Sammy is a slapper at the plate and brings tremendous speed to the Panther lineup, and has been known to be a switch-hitter as well.

Freshman MJ Flowers would have held down center field in her first season. She gives the Panthers athleticism in the field and on the base paths.

Coach Golden was assisted by Jeff Riley and Bill Forrester.

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League

The Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League at Paw Paw Lake Golf Club began golfing May 1. New members for 2020 are Stephanie Guse, Anita Hertz, Judy Lynch, and Michelle Metz. Low scores for May were Cheryl Hutchins with 52; low putts were Katherine Rodriguez and Anne Pudell with 15.

June 1 Report: Weekly Event, Most pars – Sue Pantaleo and Michelle Metz; Low Gross – Sue Pantaleo, 53; Low Putts – Sue Pantaleo, 17.

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