Category Archives: Sports

Bulldog Wrestling Looking Promising in Early Season

Carter Mann posts a win in the 171 weight class in a Vicksburg wrestling contest.

By Travis Smola

Vicksburg’s wrestling program has seen its share of struggles the last few years. It may finally be on the path to turning the corner as it fields one of the most experienced teams in a while. “What I’m looking for is just to build,” Head Coach Jeff Mohney said.

“A lot of these freshman that are coming up have been wrestling in the My Way program at the middle school, so they’re not coming into it green,” Mohney said.

He said he’s had to spend less time working on the basics with both the wrestlers and the parents this year because the youth wrestling program has already taught the basics. There are still a few holes in different weight classes. But the Bulldogs saw the arms of Kenny Stermer, Gunnar Neimandomski, Carter Mann, Ty Barnes, JP Culver being raised a few times at their first home quad meet.

In fact, Mohney said he only has two wrestlers this year who are new to the sport. Some of the freshman now have six or more years of experience. He also said they did a few off-season training sessions, but he’s also been encouraging the boys to take up a fall sport to keep in shape and help keep that team mentality.

In the early part of the season, he said they aren’t worried about scores. Their focus is just getting the boys experience before conference meets start. The influx of new experience means they should be able to start building the team properly through JV level experience this year. In the past, they’ve had to use inexperienced, younger wrestlers at the varsity level simply due to lack of depth.

“Our upper classmen are going to go to the varsity events and these freshmen are going to actually get some JV experience instead of just throwing them right to the wolves to get beat up by the varsity,” Mohney said.

He’s excited by the prospects for this season and the future because the My Way wrestling program is now about 50 kids strong. It should go a long way to helping fill some of the holes the high school program has had recently.

“We weren’t able to compete, and our motto was to have fun, which it still is. But now we’re going to work a little harder and see if we can’t start competing while we’re having fun,” Mohney said.

Vicksburg Basketball Gets Big Win in Season Opener

basketballDec3By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity basketball team and new head coach Josh Noble unveiled a new unselfish style of play in their opening game against Comstock. The result was an impressive 51-35 victory.

The two sides traded the lead back and forth. It seemed every time the Bulldogs pulled away by a couple, the Colts were there to hit a three.

“When a team like Comstock comes out and hits six or seven threes and we run the way we run, we’ve got to be patient, we’ve got to be able to trust each other,” Noble said. “And it just seemed like their legs got kind of tired at the end and our guys stuck with it.”

Things were tied 24-24 at the half, but the boys began to really spread the ball around in the second half as they excelled in all phases of the game. Kyle Rose led the scoring charge by putting up a double-double. He was five for six shooting for 12 points with two free throws. He also helped lead the Bulldogs’ excellent rebounding with 13. Jacob Conklin was close behind in scoring with 11. Dillon Shook had seven points while Parker Wilson had six. Chase Myers and Lucas Hatridge each added three. Timmy Sarvari and Ethan Buscher rounded out the scoring with a couple of three-pointers.

The unselfish nature of the team’s play was hard to miss, especially in its passing as the Bulldogs moved the ball quickly and efficiently all game. “We try to preach that. We’ve got a lot of guys who play multiple sports, so they get to see what a team is in a lot of different seasons.” Noble said. “You never know when that last pass is one too many passes and tonight it seemed like we made the right passes at the right time and they were very unselfish.”

The team pulled away in the second half to go up 42-33 at the end of the third and then allowed just two more points to come away with a 51-35 victory.

It was quite the homecoming for Noble, who teaches seventh and eighth grade history at the middle school. Noble is a familiar name to long-time Vicksburg residents. The 2004 graduate was a part of Vicksburg’s last District championship team.

“I wear that with pride, but I also wonder why it was the last one,” Noble said. “We’ve had some good talent come through here. We need to be competing at that level.”

The Bulldogs’ new coach said he spent six years in South Carolina and one year in Haiti gathering some coaching experience. But he says he’s thrilled to return home and coach the team he used to play on. “I’m excited to be home, my family is here. I went all over the world and you know what I kept thinking a good place was? Vicksburg. When I was growing up, I didn’t think that much. But coming back has been a lot of fun.”

The Bulldogs closed out the last games before winter break with a 74-53 loss to Otsego and a 46-33 win over Allegan to bring their record to 2-2.

Schoolcraft Scores Big Win Over Battle Creek Central

Seniors on Schoolcraft’s basketball team from left: Aiden Hursey, Terry Smith, Steven Schultz, Trevor De Groote, Kobe Clark.

By Mark Blentlinger

The Eagles boys’ basketball team under the leadership of Randy Small worked its way through the early part of the 2019-20 campaign by beating Hopkins, Delton Kellogg, Saugatuck and Lawton. On the weekend following Christmas, the team made the trek to Battle Creek to play in the Chuck Turner Holiday Classic. On Dec. 27, they faced off against the Bearcats of Battle Creek Central. The Bearcats would remember when they lost to the Eagles in the same tournament a year earlier by the score of 41-38.

The score was even more lopsided this time: 65-43.

Schoolcraft was not intimidated by facing a much larger school’s team, jumping out ahead in the first few minutes. The Bearcats were able to erase the hole they were in to take the lead 22-21 midway into the second period. The Bearcats would see that lead disappear when the Eagles took a 30-25 lead at halftime. In period three, the Eagles began to open up the lead and play very strong defense. The Bearcats were only able to put four points on the board the entire period. It appeared the Eagles worked hard on free throws in the off season as they went 21 for 30 tries from the line.

Leading the Eagles in scoring were Kobe Clark, 16, Tyler DeGroote, 15, and Bryce Vanderwiere, with 12. The Eagles had eight three pointers. Leading scorer for the Bearcats was Tyree Young with 20. The Bearcats struggled from the line, making only 6 of 10 and 5 three pointers. While Schoolcraft will enter 2020 unbeaten, that record will be challenged early on when the team visits Kalamazoo Hackett on January 7, and three days later when Kalamazoo Christian plays the Eagles in Schoolcraft.

Lady Eagles Basketball Team off to a Good Start

By Mark Blentlinger

The Lady Eagles hosted the Eddies from Edwardsburg in the first game of the season at home on December 3. The Eddies would walk away with their first win of the season, beating the Eagles 43-31. The Eagles were spread thin on the night without All-SAC players Anna Schuppel, who was sick, and Savanah Seath, who is still nursing an injury. The rest of the team was able to step up and put on a fight. The Eagles scored the first points of the night, but the Eddies were able to put on a 11-0 point run after that. Eagles’ top scorers for the night were Mackenzie Miller with 17 and Gabi Saxman with 8.

Fortunately, the Lady Eagles were able to put the opening night loss in the past and focus on the upcoming games against Delton Kellogg, Saugatuck and Lawton. First up would be the Panthers of Delton. The Lady Eagles trailed at the halfway point 25-22 but felt they could put something together against the undefeated Panthers. They came out in the third period and put up a 17-7 run on Delton. The Panthers came roaring back in the fourth period but the Eagles held on to take the win 46-40. Scoring leaders for the Eagles were Gabi Saxman, 16, Anna Schuppel, 9 and Mackenzie Miller, 8.

Before the New Year was in, the team stayed in the win column when they beat Saugatuck 56-40, then had a very lopsided win against Lawton that ended with the score of 64-8. The Lady Eagles will start off 2020 in conference play at Kalamazoo Hackett Prep on Jan 7.

Lady Bulldogs Have an Even Record Early in the Season

GirlsBB20192By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg girls varsity basketball team has a 3-3 record and is trying to figure some things out in the early part of the season after wins against Comstock, Allegan and Paw Paw and losses to Three Rivers, Otsego and Wayland.

“We haven’t beat Comstock in five years, so it was good to get that first win under our belt,” Head Coach Tim Kirby said. “We didn’t really shoot well in that game either. We missed several layups and we shot 1 for 11 from the foul line, but Hannah (Vallier) came out hot at the beginning and scored the first nine points of the game. We never really looked back. It was one of those things where it was never really in doubt even though we didn’t shoot the ball well.”

The 37-28 win led into a home opener against Three Rivers that was a completely opposite type of game. The Lady Bulldogs struggled all night to contain the Wildcats’ Kali Heivilin. “If you can’t keep her (Heivilin) off the glass, she’s going to eat you alive and she did tonight. That was really the difference,” Kirby said.

Three Rivers got out to an early 10-0 lead and led 20-1 after the first period. The girls mounted a little bit of a run in the second. Sydney Finos was the leading scorer of the game with seven points. Kelsey Diekman had three, and Paige Yant, Vallier, Chloe Hatridge and Sophia Blankenship each had one. Allyson Naster had a free throw to round out the scoring.

Kirby believes Three Rivers may be one of the toughest matches they’ll have all year. “It’s really early and that’s a really good basketball team,” he said. “Honestly, I think they’re the favorite to win the conference this year with the depth and experience they’ve got coming back.”

He says the Bulldogs need to improve in shooting and a few other areas. The girls did improve their record to 2-2 after they beat rival Paw Paw 58-45 a week later and then went 3-3 with a 54-35 win over Allegan right before holiday break.

“I have a lot of girls returning but we are still just trying to figure some things out,” Kirby said. “We’ll keep working and hopefully we can get back on our winning track here.”

Kyle Rose to Play Football for the Air Force Academy

kyle rose 1By Sue Moore

“I hate to lose and try to win at everything I do, especially in the weight room,” said Vicksburg senior Kyle Rose. He has proven that by gaining between 20 and 30 pounds each year in high school. At 290 and 6 feet 3 inches, football scouts were interested, especially from the Mid-American Conference, Cincinnati and Navy. The one that mattered the most to Rose was when Air Force came knocking on his door.

“I’m humbled to represent our small town at such a prestigious place as the Air Force Academy. I want to serve my country and believe this is a great opportunity,” Rose said. “I’ll be fine with the highly regimented, disciplined structure of the Academy.

The Academy’s defensive line coach, Ron Vanderlinden, sat down in the Rose’s living room and outlined what would be expected and how the opportunity to be around other kids like him would be beneficial to his future.

Rose’s dad, Ken, looked back on his son’s freshman and sophomore years of football. “We didn’t really dream that big. Then he attended the IMG camp in Florida before his junior year, which was eye-opening.

“They wanted him to come to their school and play. That possibly added a little motivation, but Kyle didn’t want to play in hot weather and came back home to perfect his talents. He had started on defense and changed to offensive tackle. With his agility and quickness, he could pick up and block linebackers and defensive backs,” Ken explained.

Vicksburg’s football coach, Tom Marchese, extolled Rose’s ability to lead the blocking downfield and get to the second level so quickly. “I’ve never had a player like Kyle. He’s been a three-year varsity standout. He showed what hard work will accomplish while still being a quiet modest kid. He doesn’t like the spotlight even though he was a two-time team captain. When I asked him to speak up, he did, becoming a team leader. The Academy is a great fit for Kyle, football-wise and academically. He will not get outworked, I know that,” Marchese said.

Rose will dress for home games but won’t play his first year as there is so much to absorb, the recruiter told him. In high school he carries a 3.8 GPA and hopes to major in engineering or business. His mom, Trudy, remembers Kyle as always being bigger than the other kids, even in day care. “All the little kids would just be hanging on him. We have to feed him a lot, especially bread and sub sandwiches. We pack a lunch of these for school each day so he won’t get too hungry.

“He has always been calm with an easy-going demeanor. It takes a lot to get him riled up but he can focus on what is important to him,” Trudy said. His brother, Hunter, played baseball in college at Ave Maria University in Florida and now is in investment planning for State Farm. “But football is where Kyle can let it all hang out when he hits someone as hard as he can with contained energy,” his coach exclaimed.

He likes football as a team sport even though he played travel baseball and is on the Vicksburg basketball team.

KVCC Recruits Vicksburg’s Kari Key to Play Softball

kari key
Kari Key signs to play softball at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

By Sue Moore

Kari Key, the third base standout on Vicksburg’s softball team, has signed a letter of intent to play softball for Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC).

She has played softball since she was 10 years old and always loved it. Besides third base she can sub at second or anywhere in the outfield with her favorite being right field. “I like diving for the catches,” Key said. She has been in the Vicksburg school system since kindergarten but lives in Portage. She plays travel ball with Elite in Grand Rapids now but started with the Hurricanes, playing with them for 8 years. “I love my teammates and just playing the game,” Key said.

“Travel ball prepares a person for life, not just about the sport,” Key said. “It shapes who you are and helps overcome some obstacles in life. I chose Valley because I loved the coaching staff. It’s a good place to start and then go on to a four-year school, perhaps at Ferris State or Saginaw Valley. I’m considering elementary or special ed as I’ve always loved helping people.” Key participates in Peer to Peer at the high school where students are paired with kids with special needs. She has been doing this for the last two years while carrying a 3.0 GPA.

“My parents have been very supportive through the years, driving me to my practices. They have always been there for me and help me get where I am today,” Key said. “I’m an only child with two dogs who are like a brother and sister to me.

Her dad, Mark, manages the Eimo plants on Portage Road. Her mom, Marion, works at St. Joseph County community mental health as a counselor. They come to all of her games. She takes hitting lessons in the winter and works out almost every day of the week.