Tri-City Area Sports

EYES ON IT…..Coloma second baseman Dylan McCoy keeps his eyes on the incoming ball as Watervliet’s Marc Birmele keeps his on the bag. Birmele was safe. Watervliet would go on to win the 8U championship Tuesday, July 12 by defeating Coloma 21-6. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Hartford Council for Recreation completed another successful All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions by crowning four division winners. Indian Pride Park in Hartford was the site of the six-day tournament and featured nine teams including squads from Allegan, Buchanan, Coloma, Dowagiac, Hartford, Lawrence, Paw Paw, South Haven, and Watervliet.  Watervliet All-Stars topped Coloma 21-6 in the 8U/Instructional division championship game Tuesday, July 12.  Watervliet needed only three innings to secure the win.  Watervliet shortstop Caleb Jewell was selected as the All-Tournament Player award winner in the instructional division.  Coloma and Hartford posted 2-2 tourney records, while Watervliet went undefeated at 3-0.  The Watervliet All-Star team also took top honors in the 10U/Minor division. They defeated South Haven on July 11 after remaining undefeated throughout the tournament, posting a 4-0 record. Coloma’s minor team went 2-2, while Hartford was 0-3.  In the 12U/Major division, hometown Hartford won the crown. After dropping into the loser’s bracket following a 13-11 loss to Paw Paw in their opening contest, Hartford then posted four straight victories for the trophy. They beat South Haven twice on Tuesday, July 12 16-4 and 9-1 to capture the championship.  Coloma went 0-3 and Watervliet did not send a team to the tournament. Aaron Sinclair was named All-Tournament player in the Major division.  In the Pony division, there was no local champion.  Watervliet’s and Hartford’s All-Star teams posted 0-3 records. Coloma did not field a Pony division team.

A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP FOR HARTFORD….After dropping their first game of the Hartford All-Star tournament 13-11 to Paw Paw, the Indians completed a four-game win streak and won the Major championship on Tuesday, July 12. Team members include (front row, left to right): Blair Barchett, Dylan Voss, Jared Foerester, Nicholas Milliken, Hunter Bloom and (back row, left to right): Coach Shaggy Sinclair, Tanner Kinchen, Oscar Trevino, Aaron Sinclair, Donovan Sikes, Kaden Johnson, Logan Fairbanks, and Coach John Johnson.

Watervliet Football Holding Youth Camp July 25-26

 Jeremy Andrews, head coach of the Watervliet varsity football team, announced the program will hold a Youth Football Camp on Monday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 26 for any third through eighth grade student interested in the sport.  The program will include six hours of instruction in football fundamentals and will be taught by Andrews, other coaching staff members, and some current varsity football players.  Contact Andrews at (269) 806-7686 or email him at to get your child registered. The cost for the camp is $25 and includes a t-shirt. The camp will be held from 9:00 a.m. until noon Monday and Tuesday at Panther Stadium at Watervliet High School. With the continuing construction at both the high school and on the practice fields, please use Medical Drive to drop off and pick up camp participants behind the Watervliet baseball field visitors’ dugout.  This is a great opportunity for any youngster to learn about football fundamentals, plays, and sportsmanship from one of the best teams in the region. Become a member of the Panther football nation; sign up for the youth camp today!

TIME!….Hartford’s Donovan Sikes signals time out after diving back to third base in Tuesday’s All-Star game against South Haven. Hartford won the game 16-4, handing South Haven their first loss of the tournament. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Hartford Selects New Varsity Softball Coach

Hartford High School Athletic Director Nick Blackmer recently announced the department has filled the position of varsity softball coach for the 2016-2017 school year.  Steve Galvan, who coached the JV team for the past two seasons, was selected for the head coach position. Galvan teaches social studies at Hartford High School.

Grace Christian Softball to Hold Open House Celebrating Coaches John & Laurie Jewell

 An open house for Grace Christian varsity and assistant softball coaches John and Laurie Jewell will be held Sunday, July 24 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the school’s gymnasium. The open house is open to the public and being held to celebrate the Jewells’ contributions to the softball program. John Jewell retired after the 2016 season, with his wife Laurie following suit.A special presentation will be held at 3 p.m. Please stop by and wish the Jewells much success in their future endeavors and thank them for a job well done.

BASKING IN THE GLORY…..After smashing an out-of-the-park home run, Hartford All-Star Nicholas Milliken (#47) is all smiles. After trouncing South Haven 16-4 and 9-1, the Hartford All-Stars won the Major Division (12U) championship on Tuesday, July 12. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Fifth Annual Trent McKinney/Watervliet Wrestling Golf Outing in Full Swing

 According to event organizer Nicole McKinney, the fifth annual Trent McKinney golf outing benefitting the Watervliet wrestling program is full! Twenty-eight teams of duffers will tee off on Saturday, July 30 at Pipestone Creek. After their round, the golfers will enjoy a steak dinner. Proceeds from the outing are used to help support the Watervliet wrestling programs.  McKinney graduated from Watervliet High School in 1986. He was a state qualifier in wrestling, and participated in National Honor Society and Student Council.  McKinney lost his battle with cancer on July 3, 2011.

Coloma Boosters Open Registration for Pumpkin Harvest Hustle

 The Coloma Athletic Boosters request your presence at their annual Pumpkin Harvest Hustle which will be held Saturday, October 15 at Jollay Orchards in Coloma. The event will feature a 5k walk, 5k run, and 10k run that traverses through apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and around a haunted house.  Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. on race day. There will also be a costume contest at 8:30 a.m., so break out your Wonder Woman or Batman Halloween costume and join in the fun! Cash prizes for best costumes will be awarded.  The run and walks begin at 9:00 a.m. and a free fun run begins at 10:15 a.m. Register online now at or by visiting the Boosters Facebook page. The fee is $20 until October 5. All proceeds from the hustle will be used to renovate the Coloma High School workout/weight room.

Coloma and Watervliet Establish Drug Testing Policies for Student Athletes; Do Benefits Outweigh Cost and Impact?

 In 1995, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled “that drug testing for high school athletes was constitutional.” In 2002, the United States Supreme Court upheld the 1995 ruling 5-4, as Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “We find that testing students who participate in extracurricular activities is a reasonably effective means of addressing the school district’s legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring, and detecting drug use.” On July 11, the Watervliet Board of Education approved the random drug testing of student athletes in grades ninth through twelve. During discussion of the issue at the board meeting, Superintendent Kevin Schooley listed four reasons why the policy was necessary: the health and safety of all student athletes, prevention of drug abuse, intervention, and providing an “out” for athletes who may feel pressured into trying drugs.  Watervliet joins Coloma High School as the only other school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference to conduct random drug screenings, according to Watervliet Athletic Director Ken Dietz. Coloma has had a random drug screening policy in place since the 2012-2013 school year. Coloma randomly screens freshmen through senior athletes.  And, although Hartford High School does not have a random drug screening policy in place, they join Coloma and Watervliet in listing consequences if the athlete is found with tobacco, drugs, or alcohol.  Coloma’s athletic handbook states, “Use, possession, distribution or sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, illegal drugs (including steroids and look-alike drugs) constitutes a violation of the athletic rules. The parent is advised to seek counseling for student/athlete in a drug abuse program.”  Violations of each school’s athletic code of conduct vary. For Coloma, the first violation on an in-season infraction results in suspension from a quarter of scheduled contests. A second violation results in suspension for one calendar year.  In Hartford’s Standards of Conduct for their athletes section B states “No use, possession, or distribution of tobacco products including cigarettes, snuff or chewing tobacco, alcoholic beverages, anabolic steroids or performance enhancing drugs or substances, illegal drugs or controlled substances or look-a-likes, inhalants, misuse of prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia.”  Hartford athletes face a loss of one-third of the total number of contests for a first time violation. Two-thirds of the season would be wiped out with a  second violation.  Watervliet’s handbook, last revised in June 2015, will be updated and available for review in August to include the random drug screening. The current handbook, however, lists “No smoking or possession of tobacco products include e-cigarettes, vapor, etc., no illegal use of drugs or possession of illegal drugs, and no drinking or possession of alcoholic beverages” regarding their drug/alcohol policy.  First offenses result in suspension for one-half of the season as well as attending a drug awareness class. It is laudable that Coloma and Watervliet now have random drug screenings in place. Above all, all athletes should enjoy the safety of having sober, clear-headed opponents share the field during athletic practices and contests. Additionally, no one should be pressured to try illegal or prescriptions drugs to “fit in” with group or clique. If having a drug policy allows even one student to shrug their shoulder and say, “I can’t. I play football/baseball/soccer/volleyball” then the policy and its intent is an overriding success.   If the policy can reach one student who currently has  a problem but can’t/won’t admit it, then it has served its purpose as well.  As both Hartford and Watervliet have stated in print and out loud, “Playing sports [at the high school level] is a privilege, not a right.” The National Drug Abuse Institute completed a study in 208 and found “about 14% of schools had drug testing policies” in place.  But, does drug testing athletes work? A study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2003 “found that schools with drug-testing policies had slightly higher rates of student drug use [21% compared to 19% at schools without drug screenings].”  The U of M study also determined that the effectiveness of drug testing is insignificant. “There are still no significant differences in marijuana use or the use of other illicit drugs as a function of whether or not the school has (a) drug testing of any kind, (b) drug testing of students based on cause or suspicion, or (c) drug testing of athletes.”  Also a concern for each and every school district is the cost of testing. With state school aid see-sawing each year, it may be difficult for schools to bear the brunt of the cost of drug screening. According to the same University of Michigan study conducted by Ryoko Yamaguchi, Lloyd Johnston, and Patrick O’Malley, “A standard drug test used in some high schools can range from $14 to $30 per test. A drug test for steroid use costs $100 per test, and a drug test that meets the National Collegiate Athletic Association standards for accuracy costs over $200 per test.”  And those tests typically just root out drugs. Because alcohol is processed by the body rapidly, it is “usually not detected by standard urine drug tests.” Alcohol consumption would need to be validated by a Breathalyzer test within a short period of time.  The issue of drug testing high school athletes is a difficult one. Each district has to weigh the benefits and costs versus a known – or perceived – problem within the school walls.  It is commendable, however, that Coloma and Watervliet place such a high priority on keeping student athletes safe, on the field and sometimes from themselves.

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League

Paw Paw Lake Golf Club July18, 2016 Report

Event:  Closest to the pin on 1 – Katherine Rodriguez

Low Gross:  Mary Beth Kraklau with 47

Low Net:  Mary Beth Kraklau with 25

Low Putts: Mary Beth Kraklau with 11

Pars:  Mary Beth Kraklau #1 and #4, Cheryl Hutchins#4, Trina Johnson #5 and #9, Anne Pudell #7 and Katherine Rodriguez #4

The ladies wish Penny Hanks a speedy recovery.

Kenseth captures New Hampshire

 Matt Kenseth won his second NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the 2016 season on Sunday after finishing the New Hampshire 301 almost two full seconds ahead of runner-up Tony Stewart.   Kenseth, who started 18th, led 38 laps, including the last 30 of the race. He notched his 38th career victory.  That was the good news. The bad news was once he drove his victory lap and spent time in the winner’s circle, his car failed post-race inspection. Oops.  Stewart finished second and tallied his third top five finish in 11 races of his injury-shortened season. In the last four races Stewart’s run, he has finished with a win, in second place, and in fifth place.  Joey Logano took third place and earned his eighth top five finish this year. Kevin Harvick finished fourth and Greg Biffle bagged fifth place. That’s Biffle’s highest finish this season, although he has produced three top 10 finishes in the last three races.  Pole sitter Jimmie Johnson finished 12th and led one lap.  Other drivers heading up a circuit were Kyle Busch (133), Denny Hamlin (5), Brad Keselowski (1), and Martin Truex Jr. (123).  The race featured 13 lead changes and seven caution periods. Twenty-six of the race’s 40 drivers competed for the win on the last lap.  Harvick maintains his hold on the top spot in the NASCAR driver standings. But, the other racers are closing the gap.  Keselowski lags by only 14 points in second place.  Kurt Busch is in third just 34 points behind the leader. Carl Edwards is 49 points back in fourth place, while Logano trails 65 points in fifth.  On Sunday, the drivers will put their pedal to the metal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard.   Word around the track is Jeff Gordon may hop into former Hendrick Motor Sport teammate Dale Earnhardt’s #88 on Sunday, which is exciting news. Earnhardt sat out of New Hampshire with “concussion-like” symptoms, according to numerous reports. A determination will be made Wednesday whether Gordon will come out of retirement and run at the Brickyard, one of his favorite tracks, for Earnhardt.

MCKENZIE RETURNS… #24 Zeke McKenzie gets his first feature win in his first week back at Hartford Speedway this past weekend.

Zeke Finally Cashes In At Hartford Krick, Mayer and Lynn Pick up Wins

 Until Friday night the weekly competition in the Jacks Excavating & Trucking UMP Modified division has been smothered by the unrelenting precision of Curt Spalding and his #111 Bandit, but in his first race back in the familiar purple #24 Zeke McKenzie would stomp out Spalding’s win streak. The win would be McKenzie’s first ever feature wins at the wide wide oval. Spalding took second, Steven Pena third, Bobby Stremme fourth and Ryan Flagel fifth.  After borrowing cars for the last few weeks to stay in the championship Josh Frye would return in his own #44 Puhrman Hauling & Excavating Stock Car to challenge Jerrad Krick. Frye would pressure Krick before going pitside with an overheating engine. Krick would once again take the checker flag in first for his 23rd career win at the speedway. Calvin Peek would finish a distant second, Jake Hoffman third, Andy Barr fourth and Evan Fredline fifth. Federated Auto Parts Cyber Stocks would take the main event 22 entries strong with last week’s feature winner Paul “Fireball” Nelson starting at the tail. Chad Freed would lead the opening three circuits before retiring pitside handing the lead to Andrew Mayer in his white #13m. By lap four Nelson had worked his way from the 22nd starting position to second place. Mayer would go on to lead the rest of the event for the win while a furious race between Brian Gage, Nelson and Jacob Ferguson for the runner up position would rage right to the checker flag. Gage would finish second, Ferguson third, Nelson fourth and James McDonald would round out the top five.  MWA Mini Wedges, an introductory racing class designed for kids 6 to 14 years old, would tackle the make shift hairpin track on the speedway’s front stretch. Michael Lynn the son of former Thunderbird Raceway champion Stock Car driver Mike Lynn would have a spirited race between Justin White and Ryan Zelmer before taking the victory. Zelmer would finish second, White third, Breanna Fitzpatrick fourth and Ethan Whitney came home fifth.  Next Friday Federated Auto Parts Cyber Stock racers will tackle the high banks of Hartford Speedway for a triple feature event. Jacks Excavating & Trucking Modifieds, Puhrman Hauling & Excavating Stock Cars and Mini Wedges will be in action. General Admission is $12 with kids 10 & under FREE. Racing gets under way at 8PM. For more information visit the Hartford Speedway website at or check in on Facebook.


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