Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele
It’s still wait and see for Hartford fall sports; could football still play? Another edition of the Hartford Press Box is arriving on newsstands with very little new information to report on Indian Athletics. And as students arrived to their “new normal” to begin the school year (at least those who are getting their education in-person), sports are still at a standstill. Practices are taking place for cross-country, boys soccer and volleyball, but no competitions can take place as of press time. Meanwhile, those who enjoy the gridiron under the lights in the fall received a glimmer of hope from the MHSAA in recent days, who say that they may reconsider a decision on moving the sport to the spring. However, such a move is contingent on the relaxation of an executive order from the governor’s office, and it is unknown if that will happen. As the waiting game resumes this week, the cancellations of games, matches and meets continue to climb. Cross-country has lost the least amount of competitions, losing just one invitational in Bridgman due to cancellation so far. Volleyball has had two tournaments and their first match against Lawrence scratched from the calendar. Boys soccer has seen its first tournament and four matches go by the wayside and with football currently moved to a new season this spring, all nine of those games are on indefinite hiatus. Just a reminder that currently with executive orders on social distancing in place, only cross-country competition is permitted at Hartford High School under current MHSAA guidelines. However, boys soccer, girls swimming and diving, and volleyball are all underway in both Region 6 and Region 8 of the MI Safe Start plan, which has been mentioned in this column before includes the Traverse City region and the Upper Peninsula. Hartford’s boys soccer and volleyball programs are anxiously awaiting any bit of news from the governor’s office regarding the future of their seasons. In this area, and throughout much of Lower Michigan, the MHSAA states “competition in these sports may begin upon the issuance of future Executive Order(s) permitting soccer competition and opening of indoor school facilities for volleyball”. It adds under current orders, these sports may continue outdoor practices under current protocols, but may not compete within regions 1-5 and 7 for the time being. Meanwhile, football went from a near-certainty of spring action to the possibility of fall once again, due to comments made by those associated with the MHSAA. However, the time window is rather short, and action would have to take place sooner rather than later for there to be any chance of having some sort of semblance of a season. MHSAA officials have been monitoring other states, and have had a change of heart recently after seeing how others regionally have been playing with little to no problems. However, this does not mean the threat has dwindled to zero. Articles on a national level have revealed that high school football teams have had cases and forced entire teams to enter quarantine, ending up with teams missing practices, or worse, forfeiting games. While the change of heart sounds great right now, the decision does not lie in the hands of those in the MHSAA offices in East Lansing. It relies on actions that could be taken by Governor Whitmer, and needs an amendment or complete repeal of an executive order for a fall football season to even be brought back to the table for consideration. It should also be noted that even if the order is amended or repealed, it will just begin a discussion process, and does not guarantee a fall football season. Currently, under Executive Order 160, outdoor sporting events are prohibited without proper social distancing. One would have to believe a change would need to come in the next couple of weeks. With winter sports arriving in November, and the ever-changing weather we get here in our state, the period of getting a “full season” in and five rounds of playoff games (if you make the finals) is shortened now. But, if you are a high school football fan, like me, watch Executive Order 160 closely in the coming days and weeks. As it stands right now, football is allowed 16 voluntary coach-to-player contact days (with more than four players) with just helmets until the end of October. Among the stipulations are that no competitions or practices with students from other schools is allowed during this voluntary practice period. Proper safety protocols must take place, and the guidelines set forth during the “Acclimatization Week” during the first week of practice must be followed, and all activity must take place outdoors. So, to sum this all up, we are reminded of the directives from all summer long – be patient and stay tuned. Everything is changing minute-by-minute, and no one knows what they might miss if they blink just a little. In the meantime, we need to keep doing what we can to make our communities a healthier place. Everything we do now is making a positive difference, and, who knows, all fall sports may happen after all because of the actions we are taking. Thank you again for your loyalty to this column and the newspaper throughout these unique times in our history. We can say that happier days will arrive again, and we will all be cheering for the green and white together in unison in no time. As always, GO INDIANS!
Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant
Panther cross-country teams are growing As of our press deadline we still don’t know the fate of the volleyball and soccer seasons. The MHSAA says they are ready to go but the governor’s executive orders prohibit either sport from participating in any competitions. It’s hard to imagine why two volleyball teams still cannot practice indoors when 30-student physical education classes can go on as normal in the gymnasium. Note that due to an abundance of caution the Watervliet classes will be held outside as long as the weather permits. In the meantime, the cross-country season is underway. The Panther cross teams have as many runners as they’ve seen in a few years. The girls team had six freshmen runners join the team this season, making a total of 16 runners in their first meet. But the boys team has grown dramatically with an influx of athletes from the postponed football program; listing 17 runners, ten of which would otherwise be playing football. The 33 runners all traveled to steamy Lake Township Park in Bridgman for what is often the first meet of the year. The weather was a big factor with the temperature at 92 degrees at race time, along with a nice and hot breeze out of the southwest. Fortunately the humidity was low or the meet may have been canceled. But on they raced, and the runners were all feeling the late August heat as race times looked to be about 90 seconds longer than normal. German Casiano (19:32) led the Panther boys and finished second overall, a full minute behind Bridgman’s Luke Blesy (18:23) who didn’t seem to mind the temperature. Ezra Troyer (19:50) was just behind while finishing third overall, and Camden Geisler (20:10) was fifth. A group of Panthers was next, with Abel Villareal (21:14), Aaron Leoni (22:37), Jimmy Kolosowsky (23:42), Wyatt Epple (24:11), Chase Tremblay (24:12), Kameron Smith (25:16) in his first high school meet, and Evan Orlando (27:10). Following them was Javier Gutierrez (28:56), Tyson Williams (29:17), Devin Geisler (29:18), Reise Bulat (30:55), Caden Burdick (37:48), Royce Daugherty (37:55), and David Robinson (39:13). Of the converted football players Coach Aaron Weber expects Epple and Tremblay to possibly break into the top group, and with a little more conditioning they and others have the potential to improve their times dramatically. Adding a big group of players from another sport can be a challenge in many respects, but as Weber said, “I think most teams have picked up some footballers but not as many as we have. It shows the supportive environment that exists within Watervliet athletics. It’s also nice that it gives those kids something to be involved in this fall and something to help keep them in shape.” He said that some of them have the chance to contribute to the team’s 2020 success, after graduating a big group of good runners. Just two years ago the girls team didn’t have enough runners to qualify at meets, but this season they will have no such trouble. Leading the way at Bridgman was freshman Morgan Lowell (26:17), finishing fifth overall. Aria Richards (29:54) was next, then freshman Abby Lomoro (30:33), Megan Trapp (30:34), Brenda Romero (31:33), Jazmin Moron (32:11), McKenna Pepple (33:18), Yona Klimkiewicz (33:30), Destiny Kerr (33:41), Amara Olexa (34:28), McKenna Kirksey (34:31), Karley Knight (37:11), Maddie Kolosowsky (37:55), and Olivia Sutherland (38:03). Lowell and Lomoro, both running in their first 5k competition, have the potential to significantly lower their times both in cooler weather and after acclimating to the high school distance in live races. The teams will have run at Riverview Park in St. Joseph on Wednesday, Sept. 2, and then in New Buffalo next week.
Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath
Coloma Comets volleyball ready and waiting: 2020 season still on the outside The Coloma varsity volleyball team, under the direction of head coach Kim Swisher, has been preparing for several weeks now for a season which is still in doubt. As the state of Michigan welcomes students back in some form, either in person or by virtual hookup, the Coloma volleyball girls are still uncertain about whether their season, which is played indoors, will be able to compete anytime soon. The governor of our great state has still not made any decision on whether the majority of lower peninsula schools will be able to play their games because of the level of comfort regarding the possibilities of spreading COVID-19. Currently the teams in the majority of the state have been holding their conditioning and practice sessions, on courts set up outdoors. In the recent communications coming down from the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association), a decision on holding a season of any kind needs to be made very soon for scheduling purposes or it will be too late to set things up that are necessary. Several weeks ago, in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible, a decision by the MHSAA to cancel all weekend tournaments was made. These tournaments which are a big part of the volleyball schedule attract large numbers of teams and fans, and so the chance for spreading the virus by means of these gatherings was eliminated. The regular season, with conference games and state tournament, all hinge on the governor’s decision. With this in mind, we will preview the Coloma girls volleyball squad for the 2020-21 season. For the past four seasons head Comet coach Kim Swisher has pulled double duty coaching the girls varsity basketball team in addition to her duties as coach of the volleyball team. Kim stepped down from the basketball coaching responsibilities earlier this summer, and as a result should have more time to concentrate on coaching her volleyball team. Coach Swisher is excited and ready to get the season going with a senior dominated squad which could mean big things for the 2020 team. Coach also has some incoming freshmen who add additional talent as well as more height to the Comet lineup. The senior leadership should be a big factor in bringing the newcomers up to speed, even though their schedule will be limited to head to head matchups with the cancelation of the weekend tournaments. Coach Swisher says it’s a tough situation, practicing for a season that is still up in the air. Her goals for the season include competing hard and winning the conference, and then going deeper into the post season which would include winning the district and advancing further than ever. Coach Kim will be counting on these seniors to make a huge contribution this year – Gracie Whitaker as outside hitter, Maurissa LaGrow a defensive specialist, Maddie McQuillan at setter, Taryn Blazier a middle hitter, Kiely Moore as opposite hitter, Mia Cole a defensive specialist. Olivia Palgen and Kayleigh Jewell will also be defensive specialists. The juniors on the Comet varsity are Addy Kimmerly and Chloe Mathis as defensive specialists, and Adian Allmon and Arryanna Torres as outside hitters. The incoming freshmen who will also be expected to get up to the varsity level speed quickly are, Clara Kimmerly middle hitter, and Brielle Hicks as setter and right side hitter. Coach Swisher concludes by saying that her seniors would really like to go out with a bang and the process for selecting the team captains has not yet taken place. Coloma cross-country teams run the Big Hill Invite at Three Rivers The Coloma boys and girls cross country teams both competed on Tuesday, Aug. 25 in what was the first athletic competition for the Comets in any sport since the middle of March. All the athletes on the team were just happy to be back on the cross-country trails, following months of uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams are led by Coloma head coach Courtney Churchill. The girl harriers finished 4th overall in a field of seven teams, with the winning team of Marshall accumulating 62 points. The Comets finished with a total of 97 points. Also running in this event were the schools from Vicksburg, Jackson, Olivet, Bronson, and Three Rivers. Senior Abby Vandermolen led the Comet ladies to the finish line, in 7th place overall with a time of 23:12.9. Chloe Williams finished close behind her in 8th place, in 23:59.9. Ava Genovese was the next Comet finishing in 11th place in a time of 23:47. Bailey McVay and Kayla Walter were the other two finishers for Coloma’s 11th and 12th graders. In the freshmen and sophomore category, Coloma had sophomore Camryn Brown in 24:50.4 and freshman McKinleigh Kraemer finishing 41:00.7. The Coloma boys also competed on the Big Hill in Three Rivers, and finished in 6th place in both the 9th and 10th grade category and the 11th and 12th grade runners as well. For the upperclassmen Jake Ickes finished in 15th place overall in a time of 19:45.2 with Blane Sutherland, also a junior, crossing the finish line in 20:43.4. Ethan Vandermolen was 26th in 20:58.5. Caeleb Ishmael ran a time of 23:22.9 and Cameron Schink came in at 27:08.0. For the 9th and 10th grade runners Coloma’s Boden Genovese, a freshman, finished 2nd overall in 20:37.6 followed by Skylar Wolfe in 24:44.6, Aiden Cripe in 25:29.3, and Andy Granados in 25:37.0. The next meet on the schedule for the Coloma runners will be on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Centerville Invitational scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. start.
Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League Aug. 31 Golf Report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club: Weekly Event, Best Poker Hand – Michelle Metz; Low Gross – Maureen Pavletic with 47; Low Net – Judy Lynch with 32; Low Putts – Sue Pantaleo, Judy Lynch and Maureen Pavletic with 16; Pars – Maureen Pavletic #7, Kathy Osborne #6.
Press Box Player of the Week!
Press Box Players of the Week for Sept. 3, 2020 are the 12 Panther football players who switched to cross-country and soccer when their season was postponed until spring. Ten athletes from the football program are now practicing and competing with the cross-country team and two have joined the boys soccer team. Joining the soccer team are junior Austin Wilmoth and senior Aaron Nave. Both have plenty of soccer experience; Wilmoth as a defender in AYSO and club leagues, and Nave played club soccer before moving to the area. The speedy Wilmoth is likely to be a starter on a talented Panther team, and equally fast Nave is expected to be a valuable sub off the bench. They may be a little rusty after spending the summer focused on football, but they’ll both get plenty of action once the competition begins. The cross-country team has acquired ten converted football players. They include Wyatt Epple, Chase Tremblay, Evan Orlando, Javier Gutierrez, Tyson Williams, Devin Geisler, Reise Bulat, Caden Burdick, and Royce Daugherty. Epple and Tremblay have the best chance at making an impact on team scores this year, but several others may find their stride and work their way into the top group. Athletic director Ken Dietz said he was excited and proud of the decision these athletes made to stay engaged by participating in a sport most hadn’t attempted before. Whether they make any competitive impact on their respective teams is immaterial, but making the attempt keeps them active and fit for whatever comes next. Dr. Andy says… “What is good exercise? Exercising should be about movement for extended periods of time. Do not make it so strenuous or complicated that you are not consistent weekly. Move for extended periods of time for at least 3 times per week doing activities you enjoy.”