11-23-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Martin Truex Jr. claims first Cup Series Championship

Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski entered Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami with high hopes. One final race of the 2017 season, one last chance to grab the championship.

The Ford EcoBoost 400, the 36th race of the year, covered 267 laps. It was Martin Truex Jr., the darling of the 2017 season, taking the checkered flag and hoisting the championship trophy in Victory Lane. He led 78 laps.

Truex Jr. celebrated his first series championship by tallying his eighth win of the season and 15th of his career. He earned 19 top five and 26 top 10 finishes this year.

The driver, who began racing a Cup Series schedule full-time in 2006, had a terrific season and earned the championship by consistently having the best, fastest car. And, really, in NASCAR, that’s what it’s all about.

Kyle Busch claimed the runner-up spot in both Sunday’s race and the championship after leading 43 laps. The driver was not pleased with the outcome and snarled through most of his post-race interview.

At issue for Busch was some hard charging, no quit effort, by Joey Logano that Busch thought was misplaced given the driver was not gunning for the championship. Buck up, Busch. There’s always next year. This year, you’re #2.

Kyle Larson took third place and led a race high 145 laps.

Championship contender Kevin Harvick finished fourth with Chase Elliott rounding out the top five.

The race featured 12 drivers finishing on the lead lap. There were 13 lead changes and five caution periods for 26 laps.

Keselowski ended his championship hopes in seventh place. He led one lap.

Pole sitter Denny Hamlin finished in ninth place.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. closed out his Cup Series with a 25th place finish.  The driver announced earlier this season that he will not return as a full-time driver next year.

Also ending her full-time racing career is Danica Patrick. The driver finished 37th on Sunday and is in need of not only a team but a sponsor for next year. Stewart Haas Racing did not renew her contract and the driver struggled to find a sponsor this year. According to Patrick, she will run at Daytona in February and then will switch back to Indy Car racing for May’s Indianapolis 500 before hanging up her helmet.

Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. who put together a spectacular season and capped it off by claiming his first Cup championship!

AQB WRAP-UP

Identical records by the AQBs were the name of the game in week 13

By Kristy Noack

Week 13 in the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback contest showed just how tough the competition is and in touch the competitors are with each other.

Two sets of ‘backs not only selected identical winners but they also predicted the same exact point total. Tim Hildebrand and RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht guessed the same picks and 44 point total, while Greg Krell and Bryan Conrad matched winners and 51 point total. That’s the first time all season two different groups of two have predicted the same winners and points! Talk about lucky 13!

Of course being cool doesn’t guarantee you first place. In our contest, six local football fans match wits weekly as they determine who will prove victorious in eight high school, college, and professional football games.

In the event two or more AQBs end up with the same record for the week, one game is specially selected as the tie-breaker game. The contestants must determine how many points will be scored in that contest. The predictor closest to the actual total wins the higher spot in the rankings.

This week, Hildebrand, Rodney-Isbrecht, and Chris Leach posted the best weekly record. All three ‘backs were 5-3 for the week. Their place in the standings came down to the tie-breaker game between Michigan and Wisconsin. The Badgers remain undefeated this season after they dropped the Wolverines 24-10.

With 44-point predictions in hand, Hildebrand and Rodney-Isbrecht share first place.  Leach earned third place with her 67-point guess.

Rodney Lynch, Greg Krell, and Bryan Conrad posted 4-4 records for the week. The tie-breaker game played into their rankings as well.

With identical records and 51-point guesses, Krell and Conrad share fourth place. Lynch predicted 63 points would be scored in the game, so he claimed sixth place.

Overall, Hildebrand still leads the pack. His record is 77-27 and he now holds a two-game lead over second place.

Rodney-Isbrecht gained a game on Lynch, who lost a game. The two are tied with 75-29 records and share second place.

Krell is in fourth place with a 68-36 overall record. He is just nine games from first and seven out of second place.

Leach added a little breathing room. She was tied with Conrad last week but gained a game this week. Her 65-39 record is one game better than Conrad’s 64-40 effort. The duo is three and four games, respectively, from catching Krell.

There is one final high school game on the docket this week. Edwardsburg will play for a state title in Division 4 action at Ford Field. Good luck to the Eddies!

Also joining our picks will be some great college football matchups as Florida State takes on rival Florida, OSU plays in Ann Arbor, and the Fighting Irish travel to Stanford.

Our ‘backs have made their selections from the following contests:

Edwardsburg vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Florida State @ Florida

Ohio State @ Michigan

Michigan State @ Rutgers

Notre Dame @ Stanford

New Orleans @ Los Angeles

Minnesota @ Detroit

Chicago @ Philadelphia

Have you made your selections? I myself will be choosing mashed potatoes, turkey, and pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone! Be sure to watch some football, gobble ‘til you wobble, and help wash dishes!


SAC and SW10 All Division volleyball award winners announced

The Southwestern Athletic Conference and Southwest 10 Conference recently announced First Team and Honorable Mention award winners in varsity volleyball.

Coloma, a member of the SAC – Lakeshore Division – saw four of its ranks win First Team honors.

Seniors Kayla Yore, Kelly Walter, Morgan Wagner, and Mya Potter all earned First Team nominations.

Watervliet’s Kara Liles and Zoe Smith, both seniors, joined the aforementioned Comets with their inclusion on the First Team All Division list.

The six athletes were joined by one player each from Fennville and Martin and two from Saugatuck. Coloma led the Lakeshore Division with four representatives.

Watervliet senior Jaelyn Pitre and juniors Grace Smith and Elaine Koshar received Honorable Mention nods.

Coloma’s Hannah Mathis, a junior, also earned an Honorable Mention award for play on the volleyball court this season.

Coloma was 6-0 in their division and 9-0 in the SAC. The Comets capped off the 2017 season with the conference championship title and were coached by Kim Gear.

Watervliet was 5-4 in the SAC and 5-1 in the division. The Panthers ended their season in second place in the SAC – Lakeshore Division. The Panthers were under the direction of Edie Daugherty.

The Southwest 10 Conference released their First Team and Honorable Mention award winners. The list was comprised of players from Centreville, Bangor, Cassopolis, Decatur, Marcellus, Mendon, and White Pigeon.

Hartford was not represented on the First Team or Honorable Mention lists, which is disappointing.

Senior AJ Jackson’s incredible blocking prowess and hitting performance was unmatched. Add to that Jessica Cortes’s solid play in the middle where she dug deep for shots as well as making sure the volleys got across the net. Cortes and Jackson often led Hartford in offensive and defensive categories.

Mikenzie Chambers often lit a fire at the net with her powerful shots, and Elly Valdes did a nice job returning volleys.

Patty Matheny was the Indians’ head coach. Although the Hartford squad was not satisfied with their performance this year, they did an outstanding job representing their school and community on the court. All players on the team deserve the recognition that befits those who worked hard, played hard, and dedicated the fall season to their sport of choice.

Hartford soccer players continue to win awards

The season may be over for high school boys’ varsity soccer, but the awards for some student-athletes keep coming.

Hartford’s William Martinez was named to the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Division 4 First Team award listing. Martinez, a senior, played midfield for the Indians.

Martinez was one of 14 players from across the State of Michigan to be named to the First Team listing.

Sophomore defender Nick Pultz received Second Team All-State honors for his work on the soccer field this season. He was one of only three sophomores to win Second Team recognition.

Honorable Mention All-State awards went to junior keeper Rudy Martinez and junior defender Isai Ordonez.

The Indians were coached by Nick Blackmer. They reached the regional semi-finals after winning the district championship and topping Wyoming Potters House Christian in first round regional action. Unfortunately, Hartford lost to foe Kalamazoo Hackett to close out their season.

Watervliet’s Zack Pickens up for Michigan High School Football Player of the Year

Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens is one of five players selected by MLive’s coaches and media voting panels as finalists for the Football Player of the Year.

The award will be announced once football state finals games are complete.

Pickens, who led Watervliet to an 11-1 record this season, put up some impressive stats.  He was 176 of 248 and threw 39 touchdowns.  He also carried the ball 233 times for 1,535 yards and scored 27 TDs. He had ten games in which he ran for over 100 yards each.

On defense, Pickens accounted for 11 solo tackles and four assists.

Pickens is keeping good company. Three other candidates were selected by the media panel and one was chosen by a fan vote.

In addition to Pickens, the coaches and media selected La’Darius Jefferson, a quarterback from Muskegon High School; David McCullum, a quarterback from Waterford Mott; and Triq Reid, a star running back from Davison High School.

Making his way into the top five based on the fan vote was Utica Eisenhower’s Matt Wittwer, a quarterback.

All five finalists are up for the trophy and will be selected by the media and coaches panel following the state finals football games.

Pickens will also find himself in the record books of the Michigan High School Athletic Association following the conclusion of the 2017 football season.

Good luck, Zack! Bring the MLive Football Player of the Year trophy home to Watervliet!

Run, Frosty, Run returns to Watervliet

Fans of the always popular Run, Frosty, Run 5K and 10K events are getting their Christmas present early. The Southwest Michigan RACERS (Red Arrow Club for Endurance, Running and walking Sports) is once again facilitating the race, with proceeds benefiting the Watervliet Athletic Boosters.

Lace up your boots or sneakers, whatever the weather may be, on Saturday, January 6, 2018. There is a 5K walk, 5K run, and 10K run.

Register online at runfrostyrun.com.

The race will start and end at North Elementary School, located at 287 Baldwin, Watervliet, Michigan.

You can register the day of the event at 8:30 a.m. The runs/walk begin at 10:00 a.m. with awards at 11:15 a.m.

While snow might sprinkle from the sky, that’s not the only cool feature of the race. The event is a “predict your time” race. Prior to setting off on the course, you must predict how long it will take you to complete the run or walk.

No timing devices – including watches or phones – are allowed. The three competitors in each of the three events who finished the race closest to their prediction will win!

Chili, cookies, coffee, and hot cocoa will await all participants at the finish line.

The Watervliet Athletic Boosters uses the proceeds from the runs to provide equipment, training aids, funding assistance, and other needs to the sports programs at Watervliet schools.

Previous Run, Frosty, Run events have seen Joe Allen, principal at North Elementary, shoveling snow off the finish line as well as sunny skies with participants in t-shirts. What can you say? It’s that Michigan weather that makes the race that much more fun!

Get registered today!

Coloma athletes sign letters of intent

 Several Coloma student-athletes made commitments to their athletic careers in November as they signed letters of intent to play sports in college.  The letters indicate their commitment to participate in a sports program at a specific college.

Skylar Crisenbery will continue her softball career at Alma College after she graduates from CHS. Crisenbery is a pitcher on the Comet softball team.

Jaidyn Hutsell, also a pitcher on softball squad, will head to Lake Michigan College. Hutsell will be reunited with head coach John Jewell, who previously coached Hutsell for years when she attended Grace Christian School in Watervliet. Jewell was the longtime, successful softball coach at the school before he joined LMC.

Pitcher Calvin Starnes will pursue baseball after he signed a letter of intent with Grand Valley State University.

Kelly Walter will head north to play volleyball at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie upon graduation this spring.

Morgan Wagner committed to continue her softball career on the diamond at GVSU.

Congratulations on each of the student-athletes who are committed to not only their sport but continuing their education!

MHSCA selects Hartford’s Mohney as Athletic Director of the Year

Exciting news out of the Michigan High School Coaches Association! The association selected Hartford Middle School Principal Ken Mohney as its Athletic Director of the Year for 2017.

Mohney, who began as the principal of HMS on August 1 of this year, received the honor at the MHSCA banquet earlier this month.

Mohney has been a school administrator, teacher, and coach for over 25 years.

Sarett offers winter break outdoors

Sarett Nature Center, located at 2300 Benton Center Road, is offering a chance for you to get outdoors this December. On December 27, 28, 29, or January 2, stop by the center and participate in their scavenger selfie.

Each participant will need to photograph themselves in five locations at the center. Show the selfies to a naturalist and you could win a prize!

If there is snow on the ground, you can snowshoe to the sites. Otherwise, just wear sneakers or hiking boots. Families are encouraged to attend.

The site also offers trail maps for anyone interested in walking the grounds. You can see marshes, ponds, the Paw Paw River, and other sights and sounds along the trails.

Contact Sarett for additional information by phoning (269) 927-4832.

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