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Five Female Athletes to Watch this Fall

Tribune Staff • Aug 13, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The fall prep sports season officially begins this week with some early season tilts scheduled for local golf and tennis teams starting on Wednesday, followed by volleyball, swimming, soccer and cross country taking their marks Friday.

Before the competition begins, however, we wanted to take a look at five standout female performers that you won't want to miss this fall sports season.

Kathryn Ackerman

Grand Haven girls swimming

Few local athletes have had stronger starts to their high school athletic careers than Grand Haven's Kathryn Ackerman.

As a freshman, Ackerman finished second in the 200-yard individual medley and fourth in the 500 freestyle at the Division 1 state meet. She followed that up with a stellar sophomore season that rewrote the record books.

During the Division 1 state meet prelims last fall, the emerging star shattered her previous career-best in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:58.94, which set a new Division 1 and All-Class record, as well as a new Oakland University Natatorium record, and earned her the top seed by nearly four seconds.

In the finals, Ackerman dropped another second to lower the new standard to 1:57.92, capturing her first state championship by nearly three seconds. At the national level, Ackerman had several breakthrough performances at the USA TYR Pro Series in Columbus, Ohio. While racing against Olympians like Leah Smith and Lilly King, Ackerman reached multiple finals and recorded new personal best times in the process.

Ackerman finished fifth in the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4 minutes, 46.8 seconds, finishing just ahead of King, an Olympic gold medalist (4:46.49). Smith, an Olympic bronze medalist, won the event in 4:37.64.

The new time by Ackerman bested her previous high-mark by three seconds.

With a full head of steam, Ackerman appears poised to break a few of her own marks again this fall and help make the Grand Haven girls swim team become a contender for state supremacy.

Gabby Hentemann

Grand Haven girls cross county

As a junior, Grand Haven's Gabby Hentemann continued her prestigious career for the Buccaneers' cross country and track teams. In her senior season, she will look to close out her high school career on a high note, which starts with a return to the cross country courses.

Last fall, Hentemann led the cross country team through a successful season, culminating in an eighth-place individual finish at the Division 1 state meet, good for All-State Honors for the third straight season. Her efforts also earned her an All-Conference nod. Her state meet time of 17:58 made her just the second runner in program history to break the 18-minute barrier.

After suffering a foot injury midway through the spring track season, Hentemann will be eager to get back out and compete. If she can continue to push herself to new heights, she may end up achieving the rare feat of four consecutive All-State performances and solidify her place in the school history books.

Ashley Slater

Grand Haven volleyball

The Grand Haven volleyball team will return a lot of talent from last year's regional squad. One of the most important players coming back to the court for the Bucs is junior outside hitter Ashley Slater. The 6-foot-2 athlete has great length and versatility, making her a mainstay along the front of the net for the Buccaneers.

Her ability to block shots defensively and smash home kills on the attack makes her an imposing force that is difficult for opposing teams to gameplan for. Last fall, Slater finished second on the team in kills and developed into an emotional leader for her team. She earned All-Conference and All-Regional accolades for her efforts and will look to add to that resume this fall.

The future Wake Forest University volleyball player will have two more years to develop her skill set, but she will be hard to miss this fall, as she helps the Buccaneers battle for conference and regional hardware on the volleyball courts.

Madeline Zenas

Spring Lake volleyball

After a breakout season as a junior, Spring Lake's Madeline Zenas will be a key player to watch for the Lakers again this fall. The senior setter uses her incredible size and strength to run the Spring Lake attack from her position on the court.

With her 6-foot-2 frame, she's able to see the whole court and effortlessly get the ball to the right teammate to record assists for her team. She's also able to record blocks and defend the net whenever the team gets out of system.

As a junior, Zenas racked up 898 assists and was an integral part of the Lakers' 30-win season and O-K Blue Conference championship. Spring Lake will once again be favorites in the race for the league title this fall and Zenas is a big reason why.

Hannah Klein

Spring Lake girls golf

The Spring Lake girls golf team is coming off a top three finish last fall after three straight state championships from 2014-16. The Lakers return four of five starters from last year's squad, but none will be as important as senior golfer Hannah Klein.

As a junior, Klein finished sixth overall at the Division 3 state finals with an 80 on Day 1 and 78 on Day 2 for a total score of 165. Klein was also instrumental in the Lakers' 16th straight conference championship and fourth straight regional title.

At the regional meet, Klein took medalist honors with an 84 and was named first team All-Conference in the O-K Blue for her performances during the league season, which the Lakers ultimately won by 280 strokes.

With another strong offseason of work on her game, Klein will be one of the top golfers to watch both locally and across Michigan.

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