Five things to watch this week

Tribune Staff • Sep 5, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Classes have officially begun at local high schools, sending the fall prep sports season into full swing. As teams prepare get into their all-important conference seasons and polish their skills up to mid-season form, here are the five contests you will want to check out this week.

Grand Haven vs. Spring Lake soccer

Today, 7:15 p.m. at Grand Haven High School

The Grand Haven boys soccer team has enjoyed a productive season so far, with a 4-0-1 start to the year. Their veteran and young talent is blending seamlessly at forward, while fresh athleticism and grit hold down the box, giving up just five goals in as many games.

Spring Lake’s team chemistry has taken longer to materialize, but the Lakers hit their stride last week with their first O-K Blue Conference win over Allendale. They have displayed big-game prowess with a convincing win over rival Fruitport and should be fired up to take on the Bucs today.

Youthful speed at the foreword position from Spring Lake will give the Bucs backline a challenge, while a persistent, tireless attack will give a questionably confident Spring Lake defense a gut check. The Lakers have been prone to giving up scoring spurts, and the Bucs are more than willing to take them.

Spring Lake golf jamboree

Thursday, 3:45 p.m. at Spring Lake Country Club

The Spring Lake girls golf team began their O-K Blue Conference title defense last week with a three-stroke victory at Sparta and continues it today in Coopersville. Last season, the Lakers took the conference in their first year as a member by 331 strokes, making back-to-back titles seemingly inevitable.

But, conference newcomer NorthPointe Christian has erased those notions by coming in just behind the Lakers at Sparta. As Spring Lake continues to shore up the bottom end of their lineup, the Mustangs are chomping at the bit.

Spring Lake’s lone home event Thursday provides a chance to catch the three-time defending state champs in action, presumably playing some of their best golf on a hyper-familiar course.

Shootout on the Shore (Water Polo)

Friday and Saturday at Grand Haven High School

The No. 4 Grand Haven water polo team is set to co-host their annual tournament this weekend, inviting some of the state’s top-tier competition for two days of play split between Grand Haven and West Ottawa High Schools.

Seven of the state’s top-10 teams will be in attendance, each playing five games over the course of the weekend.

The Bucs varsity team will kick off their weekend against defending state-champion Rockford at 4:50 p.m. and Saline at 7:20 p.m. Friday.

Saturday, Grand Haven will face No. 2 Okemos at 8 a.m. and Seaholm at 1:50 p.m. Depending on seeding, championship games begin at 5 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Grand Haven finished in 6th place at last season’s state tournament, and is on pace to make the jump into the top-five this fall. This weekend’s tournament will be a good early-season measure of how their talent stacks up.

Grand Haven football vs. Grandville

Friday, 7 p.m. at Gene Rothi Field

The Grand Haven football team opens its O-K Red Conference season with a tough matchup, taking on Grandville at home Friday. The Bulldogs fell last week to Warren De La Salle, 31-0, after downing Holt in their season opener, 53-13.

Both teams will be eager to get a win, as the Bucs took a beating of their own last weekend, falling to Traverse City West, 41-14.

The Bulldogs are lauded as a threat to the top of the conference, so a win would go a long way for Grand Haven’s O-K Red standing, as well as their playoff hopes. Trips to the postseason are rarely awarded to teams that start 0-3.

Last time the two teams met, Grandville took a convincing 53-8 win at home. Grand Haven will be pressed to avenge that beating.

West Michigan Relays (swimming)

Saturday, 10 a.m. at Rockford

Local swim teams have tested the waters with some non-conference duals already this season, but Saturday’s West Michigan Relays meet signals the start to the season.

Both the Grand Haven and Spring Lake girls swim and dive teams will be in attendance at Rockford High School as local teams take on a non-traditional event list.

Teams will put together relay-squads for all the typical relay events present in high school competition, as well as some limited to college or club meets, and even some totally unique to the event.

This fun-centric competition serves as a relaxed early-season outing where athletes and coaches can try different approaches and continue to feel out their strongest lineup for the impending conference season.

Grand Haven’s Kathryn Ackerman has already claimed a pool record in the short season, while first-year head coach Kaci Weibenga will hope to have her Lakers in fighting shape come Saturday.

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