Press Box Player of the Week!
By Dave Vollrath
The Tri-City Record Player of the Week for Dec. 31, 2020 is Coloma Comet senior cross country runner Blane Sutherland. Blane had an outstanding senior season, after having run on the cross country team all four of his high school years.
Blane has also competed on the Coloma track team all of his high school years, except the COVID canceled season of 2020. He is looking forward to competing on the Comet track squad in the coming 2021 season. Blane also keeps busy and in shape during the winter months, by competing on the Coloma wrestling team.
Blane was nominated for this award by Coloma cross country coach Courtney Churchill, who says she has greatly enjoyed coaching Blane on the cross country team. Coach Churchill will miss his leadership, although she will have one more opportunity to coach him as she and her husband Mike will be coaching the Coloma girls and boys track programs this coming spring.
Of Blane Coach Churchill says, “Blane is extremely coachable, is a born leader, and a great, positive role model for the younger members of the Comet team. He always strives to run his best and race to his fullest potential.”
Blane was in top form late in the season, and was a key component on the Coloma boys team as they finished 3rd at the Division 3 regional meet at Portage and qualified for the state tournament. It was the first time the Comet boys had ever qualified to go to state as a team. Blane finished 3rd on the Comet team and 14th overall as he ran a personal best time of 18:24.89. He has been one of Coloma’s top runners since he began his freshman year, and has been steady and consistent in bringing his times down throughout his treks on the Coloma trails.
Blane’s parents are Tony and Kelly Sutherland of Coloma. Blane is also an avid BMX bike racer, and has been racing with a passion since he was 7 years old. This past summer Blane took first place in an intermediate division race, which bumped him up into the expert class in the BMX Nationals, a race held in Portage, Indiana.
Blane is looking to go into law enforcement following graduation next spring and is currently carrying a 3.6 GPA, and also is taking a CTE Criminal law class being held in Berrien Springs. We congratulate Blane on his achievements and in winning this award, and wish him all the best in the future and hope he has a safe, long, and satisfying career in law enforcement.
Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant
Watervliet Press Box
Sports to resume?
Area basketball and wrestling athletes are in the middle of an unbearable holding pattern. There’s a plan to get conditioning and practices started and then get a slightly-extended season underway, but who knows if any of these current plans from the MHSAA will be viable in two weeks. Winter sports athletes often spend their first couple weeks of practices on conditioning, building up their endurance for multiple runs up and down the court and for trying to outlast an opponent on the mat. The conditioning is critical as it develops the ability to beat your opponent last in the game, and more importantly it builds bodies to handle the strenuous exertion without the fatigue that often leads to an injury.
Frankly, most basketball players are sitting at home enjoying holiday leftovers and making fast breaks between the couch and the refrigerator. Wrestlers would have had several matches before the end of the year and typically struggle to balance the holiday cheer, in the form of potatoes, cookies, and pie, with their need to maintain a lean body and keep their weight under control. It’s safe to say that almost none of this is happening as we drag ourselves to the end of 2020. And who can blame them? The MHSAA plans to complete the remaining fall tournaments before the end of January by utilizing a rapid testing system on all athletes and coaches. This writer feels they should have cancelled the remaining playoffs in order to simply move forward. Lakeshore got it right by telling the MHSAA that they were done with their football season and the January playoff risk wasn’t worth any possible reward.
Meanwhile, we have one senior wrestler here at home who would love to get his final season started to get his shot at another 25-wi