The Spring Lake boys and girls cross country teams both came away with top team honors at the Mel Hall Invitational on Saturday at Spring Lake.
The Laker boys scored 55 points, edging Holland Black River via sixth-runner tiebreaker to win the event. Kenowa Hills finished third with 79 points and Fruitport finished fourth with 80 points.
Fruitport's Cam Oleen took top individual honors with a time of 16:04.3, slipping past Spring Lake's Andrew Hylen by six-tenths of a second for the win.
For the Lakers, Ben Hylen (16:47.7) finished fifth; Cameron Thalhammer (17:08.8) finished 12th; Matthew VanderWall (17:27.4) finished 16th; Callen Carrier (18:03.4) finished 23rd; Will Brown (18:06.2) came in 24th as the team's sixth runner to win the event; and Jack Leech added a 25th-place finish at 18:07.1.
"We had 13 career personal best times and four runners medal as top 20 finishers," said Spring Lake coach Erin Carmody. "This was one of the tightest races that our fourth through seventh runners have run all season. It is something we have continually been working toward all season long, and I think it's more apparent than ever to see some of our gaps becoming smaller as we prepare for the regionals."
For Fruitport, Brendan Deneen (16:59.7) added a ninth-place finish; Jon Wildey (17:38.6) came in 20th; Peyton Sharlow (18:18.8) came in 26th and Kamren Vanos (18:51.3) came in 39th.
Spring Lake girls dominate the field
In the girls race, the host Spring Lake girls cross country team scored an impressive win with 28 points, while Whitehall came in second with 62, Kenowa Hills came in third with 93, Holland Black River came in fourth with 95, Mona Shores came in fifth with 134 and Fruitport came in sixth with 146.
Spring Lake sophomore Julia Bajt took top individual honors with a time of 19:44.8 to lead the Lakers, while Kate Gilchrist (20:09.7) came in fourth; Eva Tilton (20:23.5) came in sixth; Maggie Cooper (20:25.8) came in eighth; and Elizabeth Penrice (20:28.2) came in ninth place.
For Fruitport, Faith Clark came in fifth place with a time of 20:20 to lead the Trojans, while Kendra Johnson came in 35th; Taylor Burke came in 41st; Abigail Sykes came in 48th, and Kallie Fehler came in 56th.
Grand Haven water polo seizes district title
The Grand Haven boys water polo team kicked off their postseason run over the weekend at the district tournament, sweeping their weekend with wins over Hudsonville and Jenison to take the title with authority.
"I am really proud of the way the boys came in ready to play," Grand Haven head coach Bill Hamm said. "Water polo is so physical and tiring, your emotions can get the better of you if things don't go your way early. Both games we started a little sluggish, trying to overshoot and or make one too many passes. But after slow starts, they found their groove in both games and came away with solid wins."
In their opening game, the Bucs worked Hudsonville for a 9-3 victory. They led 2-1 at the first break and 4-1 at halftime, and 5-2 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles cracked the scoreboard first, as the Grand Haven offensive plan failed to fire and the Hudsonville attack found unexpected success.
"Sometimes you try something and the flow of the game, or the style of officiating, or the enthusiasm of the crowd can really have an influence on its success," Hamm said. "Hudsonville had a good plan and it took several plays for us to read.
"We realized our offense and defense had to chance and we managed to slow their attack while Mason Fritz took control and the lead."
The senior goal scorer netted two late in the first period to wrestle the lead back from Hudsonville. From there, the Bucs were in the driver's seat.
"Mason controls how we play because he is a marked man," Hamm said. "He is so powerful and quick, other teams design their defense around him, and he still leads us in scoring. When we find ways to get him open or use him to get other shooters open, good things happen."
The team was plagued by foul trouble and clunky passing early in the game, but cleaned it up as the contest progressed, eventually using their superior conditioning to out swim Hudsonville's key players.
Fritz led with five goals, while Grant Ruster racked up four assists and four steals. Matt Beals recorded 13 saves in the goal.
Game 2 saw the Grand Haven offense take off, as they lit up Jenison for a 14-6 victory in the district championship game. They led 3-2 after one quarter, 5-3 at halftime and 9-6 coming into an explosive final quarter.
"All around, a well-played game," Hamm said. "We have a core of boys that have played together for a long time, and it showed. The seniors filled the stat sheet.
"Joshua Koornneef's early overpowering goal showed the way the boys intended to play all game long.
Mason, Joshua, and Jordan DeVries did a great job forcing Jenison's star into shooting from outside of his comfort zone, add to that Beals stymying their shooters with 12 saves and you have a recipe for success.
"Ruster was the icing on the cake. He has the ability to take over a game when he wants to, both offensively and defensively. He was overpowering yesterday, all day long."
Ruster led in scoring with six goals, while Ethan Ball capped off a strong weekend with four assists.
The district championship is the first for Grand Haven in eight years "This team worked very hard, played terrific defense and had tremendous team support to score this long-awaited title," Hamm said.
The Bucs now move on to the regional tournament at East Kentwood starting Friday, taking on Grandville in the opening round. A first-round victory puts them in the top-four, securing an automatic bid to the state tournament.
Fruitport volleyball picks up two conference wins
The Fruitport volleyball team picked up two conference wins Saturday as they hosted an O-K Black double dual as part of the league's round-robin tournament.
The Trojans defeated Kenowa Hills (25-8, 25-22, 25-19) and Grand Rapids Union (25-14, 25-10, 25-7).
Rachel Paulsen recorded 21 kills to lead the Trojans (29-15), while Kailey Carmean added 49 assists; Olivia Parling added 17 service aces and 16 digs, and Trinity Busscher added 17 digs and six service aces.
The Trojans are currently 9-1 in the O-K Black and will host Jenison on Thursday for the O-K Black Conference title.
Grand Haven volleyball drops two at conference double dual
In the second round of a three-part round-robin conference tournament, the Grand Haven volleyball team dropped matches to Rockford (25-13, 31-29, 29-27, 25-20) and East Kentwood (25-16, 25-16, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12).
"Even though we lost both matches today, we saw growth and improvement in a lot of areas," said Grand Haven head coach Aaron Smaka. "That match against Rockford was probably our best of the season."
Ashley Slater recorded 36 kills, five blocks and seven digs to lead the Bucs, while Olivia Boeve added 26 kills, four aces, two blocks and 40 digs.
Also adding key contributions for the Bucs were: Ashlyn Hall with 54 assists and 18 digs; Avolyn Lepo with seven blocks and nine kills; Baby Hang with 50 digs; Kelly Klouw with 17 kills; Rachel Hillburger with five aces and seven digs; and Samantha Boove added 41 assists.
"Kelly Klouw and Avery Strohmeyer had their best days of the season," added Smaka. "Baby Hang passed really well and Ashley Slater was impressive, offensively. Rachel Hilburger did a nice job serving today with five aces and Olivia Boeve was all over the place."
WMC volleyball finishes second in Lakes Eight
The Western Michigan Christian volleyball team took on the final Lakes Eight Conference tournament on Saturday.
The Warriors came into the day tied for first with a shot at claiming an outright share of the league title with a strong performance.
Unfortunately for WMC, they couldn't get past Manistee, falling 25-20, 11-25 and 15-13. The Warriors did respond with a win over Ludington, 25-22 and 25-21 to finish second in the league.
Anna Sytsema recorded 12 kills, two aces,11 service points, four blocks and 13 digs to lead the Warriors (25-22-1), while Claudia Kingma added 10 kills; Chloe Mitchell added 33 assists; Anika Eenigenburg added six blocks and Megan Heiss added 26 digs.
"We came out too tentative in the first set against Manistee and couldn't close it out at the end," said WMC head coach Trent Smillie. "We played almost error-free and aggressive in the second set and blew them out. The third set was a battle, and we couldn't get any breaks and lost after being tied 13-13. Manistee played well in the first set. We were error-prone in the third set and gave them too many gifts to get ourselves out of it.
"In the third-place match, we pulled out the stops and earned some big leads against Ludington with strong serving and defense. They closed the gap in both sets, but we kept the lead to the end of both sets."
WMC hosts Ludington and Shelby today at 5 p.m. for Senior Night.