Best of the Best: Tribune's top prep athletes of '11-12

Let's face it: If local athletes didn't set school records, make All-State teams, or lead their respective schools to playoff wins or state championships, they had little chance at making this list.
Nate Thompson
Sep 28, 2012

That’s how competitive it was this year. This group of 10 athletes from Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Fruitport or Western Michigan Christian set the bar awfully high with their athletic achievements and they’ve created lasting legacies at their schools that will be hard to match in the near future.

These athletes were selected by the Tribune’s sports staff of Matt DeYoung and Nate Thompson and had a better chance at being picked by being involved in more than one sport, but it didn’t restrict them from the honor.

Congratulations to those who made the cut, and thanks for providing a lot of athletic thrills this season.

Danny Cotter, Grand Haven (football, basketball, baseball): If any prep athlete experienced more of a breakout athletic season, it would be hard to top Cotter’s year. He re-wrote the receiving record books for the Bucs’ football team in the fall, as the 6-foot-2, 175 pounder hauled in 62 catches for 1,099 yards and 14 touchdowns — all single-season records. His production earned him a scholarship to play football at Butler University next season. In basketball, Cotter contributed as a smooth small forward and helped the Bucs claim a district championship. Cotter was also the winning pitcher during Grand Haven’s district championship-clinching victory in baseball during the spring. He compiled a 4-3 record on the mound and also sported a rock-solid .362 batting average. For his achievements, Cotter earned Grand Haven’s top athletic honor, the Sluka Award. Doug Zelenka, Grand Haven (hockey, baseball): Maybe the best pure athlete at Grand Haven, Zelenka wowed the competition once again as a high-scoring forward and as a slugging outfielder. In 23 games for the Bucs’ hockey team, Zelenka fired in 19 goals — including three game-winners — while dishing off 12 assists. He led the team to a 17-7-2 overall record. In baseball, Zelenka hit .349 and made several spectacular catches in left field. Zelenka will also play baseball at Aquinas College. Nick Zacek, Spring Lake (swimming): With the wall of records now filled with his name inside the Spring Lake Aquatic Center, Zacek is arguably the most accomplished and talented swimmer in Spring Lake history. He capped a stellar four-year varsity career with a pair of individual state titles — the 200-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly — at the Division 3 state finals at Oakland University on March 10. He became the first Spring Lake swimmer ever to win two events at a state meet and helped the Lakers finish eighth overall. Zacek will continue his swimming career at Grand Valley State University. Harry Kriger, Spring Lake (soccer, wrestling): Although he stands only 5-9, Kriger always came up big in competition for the Lakers, especially during his senior year. As a goalie for the Lakers’ soccer team, he recorded a school-record 16 shutouts, as well as a stellar goals-against average of 0.57. The Lakers finished with a spectacular 23-2 record and made their first appearance in program history in the Division 2 state championship game. On the wrestling mat, Kriger totaled 46 wins at 140 pounds, pushing his career total to 153. He finished sixth at the Division 2 state finals. Kriger was named a Len Fase Award winner at Spring Lake, the school’s top athletic honor. John Waller, Western Michigan Christian (football, basketball, track): An athlete known for his tremendous speed and athleticism, Waller actually flourished at two schools. Because WMC does not field a football team, Waller took advantage of the co-op with North Muskegon, and shined as a fullback and lock-down corner for the Norsemen. He earned a scholarship to continue playing the sport at Ferris State. Waller was also one of the most consistent guards on WMC’s hoops squad and starred as a sprinter in track. He finished second and third in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, respectively, at the Division 4 state finals, where the Warriors placed a surprising second in the team standings.                                                                                           

 

GIRLS

Abby Cole, Grand Haven (volleyball, basketball): As a junior, Cole continued on her path at becoming one of the most dominating female athletes in recent memory at Grand Haven.She earned second-team All-State honors in Class A during volleyball season in the fall, where she eclipsed 600 kills and 200 blocks during the season. The game-changing 6-foot-5 middle hitter has already decided that volleyball will be her sport of choice at the college level, as she’s committed to the University of Michigan. There’s no drop-off in her talent or performance on the basketball court, as she was a key force at center for the Class A state champion Bucs. She averaged 9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.5 blocks during the regular season, but when it mattered the most — in tournament play — she brought her ‘A’ game. She had a triple-double in the Bucs’ thrilling quarterfinal win over East Lansing, and with the state title on the line, she nearly had another, totaling 18 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks in the one-point win against Grosse Pointe South. Evie Lorimer, Spring Lake (volleyball, basketball, softball): Lorimer became a rare athlete to earn first-team All-Conference honors in three sports during her senior season. On top of that, she was voted the best softball player in the state.
Her tremendous athletic year began in volleyball where she was one of the Lakers’ most feared outside hitters. In basketball, despite skipping the sport during her junior season, she performed like she never missed a beat, and led the Lakers in scoring and rebounding, while helping the team to a 17-4 record.
Her All-State season in softball included stats of a .490 batting average, a .968 fielding percentage, 99 RBSs, 180 runs scored and 183 stolen bases. Called by head coach Bill Core “the best player he’s ever coached,” Lorimer finishes her varsity career with her name in the MHSAA record books in nine different categories. She’ll continue to play the sport at Central Michigan University next season.
  Jordan Keefe, Grand Haven (basketball, track and field):
Sometimes, good things come in small packages. The 5-foot-6 Keefe lived up to that motto with a stellar senior season. She was the Bucs’ gritty defensive stopper as a starting guard on the hardwood, and helped lead the squad to the Class A state championship.
In track, Keefe continued to add to her legacy in the pole vault, where she finished runner-up at the Division 1 state finals for the second season in a row. Keefe has signed with Michigan State University, where she’ll compete on the Spartans’ track team.
  Lauren Hazekamp, Fruitport (volleyball, basketball, soccer):
The most accomplished setter in school history and one of the most in state history, Hazekamp helped lead the Trojans to their second-straight Class B state championship in November. She was a Miss Volleyball candidate entering her senior season and lived up the hype, topping the 1,000-assist mark and also frustrating opponents with her leaping ability at the net and serving prowess. She’s signed with Hope College to continue her career on the volleyball court.
In basketball, Hazekamp missed 13 games due to a broken ankle, but still played a big role in leading the Trojans to a solid 14-8 record. In soccer, the four-year varsity performer had another strong season as a midfielder, where she had 18 goals and 15 assists.
  Amber Carmean, Fruitport (volleyball, basketball, softball):
Carmean elevated her game in the fall, winter and spring. Her amazing hustle shined through as a defensive specialist on the volleyball court, where she experienced a second-striaght Class B title with the Trojans. In basketball, Carmean stepped up when the injury bug hit the Trojans and led the team in scoring.
In softball, Carmean was the Trojans’ starting shortstop for the third-straight year and her big bat helped lead the team to its second district championship in three seasons.

 

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