White Cloud Takes Down Spartans
Team advances to Semis on Saturday
Photos by Bobbie Cruzan
The White Cloud Indians hosted the pre-district game on Tuesday Night against Mason County Central.
The Spartans got on the board in the first inning with a long home run by Shimel to take an early 1 run lead.
The Indians came storming back in their half of the 1st inning, after KJ Strait reached base on an error, Alex Cruzan answered back with a long 2 run homer of his own for a White Cloud 2-0 lead at the end of 1 inning.
Mason County was held scoreless in the 2nd inning, after a leadoff single by Anes, Mason Ruether retired the next 3 batters via the strikeout.
Mason County again went scoreless in their half of the 3rd inning.
The bats came alive for the Indians in their half of the 3rd inning, after one out, Strait again reached base on an error, and was followed by 5 straight hits, with singles from Mason Ruether, Alex Cruzan, Mason Cruzan, Reece Hewitt and a double by Christian Ringler, and a sac fly by Landyn McGowen to plate 5 more runs for a 7-1 lead at the end of 3 innings.
The Spartans scored another run in the 5th inning on a double by Shimel and a single by Merz, leaving the Spartans down 7-2 at the end of 5 innings.
Ruether again struck out the side in the 6th inning.
Mason County would not go away easily in the 7th inning, as Sanders led off with a single, followed by an error, and a double by Shimel, and a single by Merz to score 2 runs with 2 runners on base. With Mason Cruzan on the mound, he enticed an infield pop fly and followed that by striking out the next 2 batters.
White Cloud was held scoreless in the games final 4 innings, but were able to hold on for the 7-4 win.
Mason Ruether went 6 innings on the mound, striking out 13, giving up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, to pick up the win. Mason Cruzan came on in the 7th inning, giving up 2 hits, and striking out the final 2 batters for the save.
White Cloud's record is now 21-11-1, and will play Hart on Saturday for their next district game.
Baseball, Softball Postseason begins
Here are the District pairings for our local baseball and softball teams.
Inn baseball Lion fans will see their team at home with the Packers and Tigers also on hand to compete for a shot at Regional play. In Hart 2 of the strongest teams in the district go head to head when White Cloud takes on MCC. The Panthers are also on the prowl in Pirateland.
In softball the Packer faithful get to cheer on their team as hosts for the tourney with Grant bringing their squad into town. Meanwhile Newaygo takes their game to Ravenna, a District rife with talented teams. Cloud followers will be heading east to Remus to face the Mohawks, a team they cruised past in a doubleheader sweep two weeks ago.
Tuesday May 30
Alma (10-11) vs. Tri County (3-22) 4:30pm
Saturday June 3
Grant (10-15-1) vs, Alma/TC winner 10am
Newaygo (20-13-2) vs, Fremont (10-14) 12pm
Title Game 2pm.
Tues May 30
Shelby (8-16) vs. Morley Stanwood (6-12-1)
White Cloud (20-11-1) vs. Mason County Central (15-8)
Saturday June 3rd
Shelby./MS winner vs. Hesperia (8-24)
WC/MCC winner vs. Hart (10-19)
Title Game 2pm
Tuesday May 30
Tri County (4-17) at Orchard View (3-16) 4:30 pm
Grant (18-10) at Fremont (4-16) 4:30pm
Saturday June 3rd
TC/OV winner vs.Whitehall (12-9) 10am
Grant/Fremont winner vs. Oakridge (23-5)
Title Game 2pm
Tuesday May 30
Kent City (21-9) at North Muskegon (16-11)
Saturday June 3rd
KC/NM Winner vs. Newaygo (21-12-2)
Ravenna (31-5) vs, Montague (15-17)
Title Game 2 pm
Chippewa Hills District
Tuesday May 30
Central Montcalm (24-10-1) at. Chippewa Hills (5-19)
Saturday Jie 3rd
CM/CH winner vs Lakeview (9-21) 10 am
White Cloud (10-21) vs, Morley Stanwood (3-18) Noon
Title Game 2pm
Cloud Splits With ‘Yotes
The White Cloud Indians Varsity Baseball Team took on the visiting Reed City Coyotes on Tuesday Night in White Cloud.
In Game #1, Mason Ruether took the hill for the Indians, striking out 9, allowing 7 hits, 6 walks and 5 earned runs. Reece Hewitt came on in relief in the 7th, giving up a homerun.
The Indians offense was led by Landyn McGowen with the teams only 2 hits, against a very good Reed City pitcher.
White Cloud lost game one, 6-1.
The Nightcap was a different story, as the Indians pounded out 10 hits, leading to an 11-1, 5 inning mercy win.
The offense was led by Alex Cruzan with 3 singles, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI's, as Mason Ruether also had 3 singles, 3 runs scored, and 2 RBI's.
On the mound, Landyn Mcgowen went 3 1/3 innings, giving up 3 hits, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts, for the win. Mason Cruzan finished off the game getting all 4 batters out that he faced.
White Cloud has now won 10 league games, while being the smallest school in the conference, with an overall record of 20-11-1.
The next game for White Cloud will be at home Saturday morning to finish a tied game with league leading Big Rapids.
Lions haul in more hardware
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
CSAA Finals: Newaygo 3 vs. Tri County 0
Newaygo Lions Soccer has won the CSAA Conference Tournament, a week after claiming the regular season CSAA title. With the victory, the Lions continue their 17-game undefeated streak, scoring 87 goals so far this season while conceding just 6.
The Tournament championship was played at Newaygo Colosseum on Friday, May 19, and from the opening whistle, the Lions dominated possession. With good ball circulation and signature precision passing, the Lions got on the board late in the first half. With 8:54 left on the clock, Lynnea Briones—referred to as “mini-Messi” by fans—dribbled through the defense on left side of the field. Finding space, Briones launched a cross into the center of the box. As the ball bounced around, Connelly Hefferan Nordlund brought it under control and quickly laid it off to McCaiden Rienstra. From the center right of the box, Rienstra let loose a bending shot into the corner of the net, putting the Lions up 1-0. This would be the only goal of the first half.
When the first half came to a close, Newaygo had put up 17 shots, while Tri County managed just 3. Tri County is known for its aggressive counter-attack, but the Lions defense kept the Vikings largely contained. Sofia Briggs, Maddie Couch, Natalie Richardson, and Rachel Larsen patrolled their territory with relentless determination, effectively stifling the Vikings transition play before it could become dangerous. Lion Keeper Barbara Toth faced just one shot on goal, which she expertly caught and put back in play.
Returning from the halftime break, the Lions maintained intensity, continuing their pressure toward goal. Their effort was rewarded when, with 26:08 left in the second half, Grace Painter scored. As the Vikings tried to clear the ball following a Newaygo attack, Landry Hefferan Nordlund stole it back, making a move to beat the Vikings defense. Hefferan Nordlund then sent a short pass in front of goal to Painter. Painter maneuvered around the last line of defense to slam the ball into the center of the net. The Lions were up 2-0.
As the Lions continued to control play and protect the lead, Vikings players and fans began to show signs of frustration. Tri County was issued a yellow card infraction for an illegal tackle against Lion defender Couch. Shortly thereafter, the Vikings' sidelines also were sanctioned for disorderly behavior. The game was halted for several minutes, as fans charged with abusive behavior were ejected from the stands.
Following the disruption, the match resumed with a Tri County goal kick. While the two teams battled for possession, Newaygo continued to generate more chances to score. This advantage paid off with 9:09 left in the second half. Following a Tri County counter-attack, C. Hefferan Nordlund won the ball. Bringing it forward, Hefferan Nordlund found Painter. Painter advanced into Viking territory with urgency, beating several defenders with skills moves, to position herself in front of goal. Painter fired a rocket into the corner of the net, bringing the Lions to 3-0. Captain Sofia Briggs said, “I’m always going to remember the feeling from the third and final goal of the match. After that goal, our win was guaranteed with the few minutes remaining.”
As the final minutes ticked down, the Lions focused on maintaining possession rather than attacking goal. The game ended with the Lions up 3 and Tri County 0. In the second half, the Lions fired off 7 shots total, while Tri County managed just 2. Keeper Toth capably stopped both Viking attempts, earning her 13th shutout of the season.
The Lions now have won both the regular season CSAA title, as well as the post-season CSAA Tournament trophy. This is the first time in at least a decade that Lions have captured these honors. Remarking on the accomplishments, Captain Connelly Hefferan Nordlund said, “It feels great to be the CSAA champions. We’ve worked hard for this for years, and it feels amazing to have proof of it.” Captain Briggs added, “I am so proud of our team and how far we’ve come. I hope our success will continue during districts!”
After shaking hands with the Vikings players, coaches, and officials, the Lions raced to the sidelines, to thank their fans. In return, the fans were on their feet, jubilantly applauding the Lions on their noteworthy achievements. The players then headed to the center of the field, where the CSAA Conference trophy was presented to the team. As the players lifted the trophy over their heads in celebration, the fans spilled onto the field in congratulations. Captain Grace Painter said, “I will always remember the team coming together to celebrate with the trophy, after thanking our fans that came to support!”
What accounts for the Lions success this season? The players note that teamwork and connection are key elements, along with a history of playing together. Captain Briggs said, “We’re able to read each other very well.” Captain Painter said the key is “Our composure and mental toughness. We encourage each other to remain focused and work hard, no matter the circumstances!” Captain Hefferan Nordlund added, “Everyone on the team is friends with everyone, and we all want what’s best for the team as a whole.” The hard work and camaraderie have paid off, with the Lions capturing the top spots in the CSAA conference.
Reflecting on the night, Lions Coach Matt Painter said, “After battling Tri County just one week ago for the conference title, I wasn’t exactly sure how we would respond tonight. And then on top of that, I think our seniors had some extra emotions today, following their last day of school activities! However, when the whistle blew, our girls seemed to forget about everything else besides what they needed to do on the field. I felt that we controlled possession for much of the game and made our shots count. Our girls wanted to leave no doubt that they deserved to be Conference Champs! I really can’t think of a better way to end our regular season than with a trophy. Next week we will need to stay sharp as we prepare for our next goal: winning our second District Title!”
With a bye in the first round of District play, the Lions next will take the field at home on Wednesday, May 31 at 5:00 PM. Their opponent is to be determined.
Track and Field Regional Championships
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Fremont, Grant and Newaygo track teams all traveled to Allendale on a rare Thursday afternoon for the Regional Championship which would determine who would earn Regional honors and who would head to the State Meet as both individuals and as a team.
From Coach Somers:
Mild temps, little wind.
The boys had a great day at the 2023 Regional Championships at Allendale. To have so many personal records at a championships meet shows the boys ability to work well under pressure. The team finished 5th of 15 teams with 45 points. Athletes placing in the top 8 in an event were All-Region and earned a medal. This is also the meet used to determine state qualifiers. Any athlete or relay placing in the top 2 automaticlly qualified for state. Athletes not placing in the top two could also qualify by meeting the state qualifying time at the regional meet.
Automatic State Qualifiers
Regional Champion – Sean Pettis – 1600 – PR
2nd place – Daniel Romero – 300 Hurdles – PR
State Qualifiers on Time
Gary Springstead – 400, 4th – PR
Daniel Romero – 110 Hurdles, 3rd – PR
4x800 Relay - Gary Springstead, John Christensen, Chase Lowery, Sean Pettis – 5th
All-Region Athletes not listed above
Jacob Burns – 6th, 200
Sean Pettis – 7th, 800
Carter Sherman – 6th, 3200 PR
Carter Rottman – 8th, 300 Hurdles PR
Daniel Romero – 6th, Long Jump
Athletes who set a PR not listed already
Lucas Bradley – Discus
Nathan Burns – Shot Put
Issac Romero – 800
Khai Noordyke – 200
It was an exciting meet, and I was happy to see the boys step up to the challenge in their events. The State Finals will be held on June 3rd at Forest Hills Eastern High School.
The runners got out to a great start with the girls 4 x 800 meter relay team earning medals with the 6th place finish. Runners Remington Arney, Elizabeth Chaffee, Grace Hughes and Maria Riddering ran a time of 10:43.
Freshman Grace Hughes took an impressive 7th place in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:31.42.
Junior Remington Arney also earned a medal with her 4th place finish in the 3200 meter run, setting a personal record time at that distance with a 11:47.2.
The 4 x 200 meter team consisting of Elsha Jibson, Emma Mortensen, Thalia Pineda and Emma Dosch handed the baton off quickly to get medals for 8th place.
For the boys team, senior Cole Hefner earned himself a medal in the long jump with a 4th place finish and a jump of 20'3", a personal record.
Full Results can be found here - https://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/meet/481029/results
Onto The Finals!
Lions blank Yotes in conference semis
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
The postseason CSAA Tournament continued on Wednesday, May 17, as Newaygo Lions Soccer hosted the visiting Reed City Coyotes. With a 5-0 score, the Lions emerged victorious, securing their spot in Friday’s finals match.
The last time the two teams met, the Lions scored five goals while holding the Coyotes scoreless. That history might have factored into Coyote game strategy on Wednesday, as the Coyotes assumed a defensive posture from the opening kick-off. Packing the box with defenders, Reed City worked to intercept balls and block shooting lanes as a primary tactic, leaving their offensive press to the occasional transition play. Yet, with the technical ability to pass and shoot in tight spaces, the Lions were able to break down the Coyote’s defense with patient ball circulation.
The first goal came with 28:54 left in the half, when Lynnea Briones and Connelly Hefferan Nordlund executed a give and go sequence that put Hefferan Nordlund dribbling toward goal. Threading the needle, Hefferan Nordlund sent the ball through three defenders to Grace Painter. Painter got a touch, then slammed the ball into the lower corner of the net. The Lions were on the board 1-0.
The next twenty minutes saw the Lions continuing to pressure goal, sending in a number of shots. The effort bore fruit with 8:06 on the clock, when Maddie Couch intercepted the ball in the midfield. Couch centered the ball to Hefferan Nordlund, who dribbled to the top of the 18-yard box. Briones made a perfectly timed run, surging toward net. With the Coyotes keeper patrolling on the right, Briones slid the ball into the left corner. The Lions were ahead 2-0.
With 4:24 left in the half, Painter dribbled up the right side of the field, sending in a shot. The ball bounced off the Coyote defense, and into Hefferan Nordlund’s path. With the Reed City keeper again on the right side of the net, Hefferan Nordlund made a controlled pass into the lower left corner. This had the Lions up 3-0 at the half.
The Lions continued their offensive assault in the second half, scoring again with 30:29 on the clock. Belen Torres dribbled in from the midfield and sent the ball toward net. As the ball bounced around the top of the box, Painter pounced, burying it from the 18-yard line. The Lions were ahead 4-0.
The final goal of the match came with 28:16 left. Painter took a corner kick, dropping it into the box for McCaiden Rienstra. Rienstra crashed the net with precision timing, blasting the ball into the corner. The game ended 5-0, with the Lions having put forward 19 shots in the first half and 18 shots in the second half. Reed City made just one incursion into Lion territory, with Keeper Barbara Toth scooping up the ball at the edge of the box. This was Toth’s 12th shutout of the season.
The Lions closed the evening celebrating the team’s eight seniors, who will graduate next week. Honored with flowers and gifts, the senior group includes Lynnea Briones, Sofia Briggs, McCaiden Rienstra, Grace Painter, Connelly Hefferan Nordlund, Barbara Toth, Yuri Kasugai, and Josie Hilden.
Commenting on senior night, Coach Matt Painter said, “Senior night has always been a nice night. However, I have to admit that this one was special. I’ve watched this group grow up together on the field ever since they were little. Coaching them the past 4 years has been so rewarding! Yes, they have been successful in terms of wins and losses, but their personalities and the way they make practice fun…it’s hard to quantify that! I will miss this group of young ladies! That being said, the girls coming up bring their own unique style and personality!!”
The Lions advance to the CSAA Tournament Finals on Friday, May 19 at 4:30. They will play at home against Tri County. The Lions currently have an overall record of 15-0-1 and conference record of 9-0-0. Tri County sits at 14-1-1 overall, and 7-1-0 in conference play, with their sole loss to the Lions. Friday’s match will determine the CSAA Tournament winner.
Cloud Splits With ‘Hawks
Photos by Cassie Rickert
White Cloud hosted the Morley Stanwood varsity baseball team on Tuesday Night.
In Game #1, Mason Ruether started on the hill for the Indians and dominated the Mohawks by throwing a complete game, striking out 15, giving up only 4 hits, walking 1, and allowing no runs.
White Cloud's offense went to work in the first inning, after a leadoff ground out, Mason Ruether smacked a long double, and scored on a single by Alex Cruzan for a 1-0 Indians lead.
KJ Strait started the 3rd inning off with a single, and was followed by RBI singles from Ruether and Cruzan for a 3-0 lead.
The Indians final run of the game was a long solo Home Run by Ruether, for the final score of 4-0.
Mason Ruether led the offense with a single, double and a home run, along with 2 RBI's, Alex Cruzan contributed 3 singles with 2 RBI's.
In the Nightcap, Morley put up 4 runs in the first inning, 1 run in the 3rd, and 3 more runs in the 4th inning, for an 8-0 lead.
White Cloud started their comeback in their half of the 4th inning by getting singles from Mason Cruzan and Christian Ringler, and an RBI groundout by Reece Hewitt to plate 2 runs, now putting the Indians down 8-2.
Morley put up another 2 runs in the 5th inning to regain a 10-2 advantage.
The Indians wouldn't go down easily, as singles by Mason Ruether and Alex Cruzan, and an RBI single by Mason Cruzan, would put up the first run in the 5th inning. Reece Hewitt then drove in 2 more runs with a single, before Landyn McGowen would blast a line shot 2 run homer over the left field fence, to plate the 5th run of the inning for White Cloud. The 5th inning ended with White Cloud now losing 10-7.
The Mohawks were held scoreless in their half of the 6th inning, as the Indians would plate another run in the 6th as Mason Ruether started the offense off with a long double and scored on an RBI single by Alex Cruzan, now down 10-8.
Again the defense held Morley scoreless in their half of the 7th, giving the Indians a chance in their half of the inning. Christain Ringler started off the inning with a single, and promptly stole 2nd base, after a strikeout, Landyn McGowen hit a high pop fly for a double to score Ringler. Jayden Robinson came to the plate and laced a single to right field to drive in McGowen with the tying run. Robinson stole 2nd base and was in scoring position with only 1 out, but 2 straight infield pop flies ended the rally with the score now tied at 10-10.
Morley came to bat in the 8th inning, and after a lead off strike out, 2 straight walks and an error, followed by a single, put them ahead 13-10.
After working back from several deficits in the game, the Indians were unable to mount another comeback and suffered a 13-10 loss.
White Cloud's record now stands at 17-9-1, and will host Hesperia on Friday for a single game, before participating in the Newaygo County Tournament on Saturday in Fremont.
Lions Roar Into Semis
Face Coyotes Wednesday in Round 2 of the Conference Tourney
Photos and story by Tara Hefferan
Newaygo 8 vs. Chippewa Hills 0
On Monday, May 15, Newaygo Lions Soccer won its CSAA Tournament Quarterfinals game 8-0 over the Chippewa Hills Warriors. Playing at home, the Lions controlled possession from the opening whistle, denying the Warriors even a single shot during the match. By contrast, the Lions fired off 18 shots in the first half, and 9 in the second half, which ended in a mercy win with 22:50 remaining on the clock.
Known for their technical skills and precision passing, the Lions got on the board early, after Connelly Hefferan Nordlund sent a crisp pass to Lynnea Briones. Briones saw Grace Painter making a run toward goal and perfectly laid the ball off to her. Driving forward, Painter then powered the ball to the left of the Chippewa Hills keeper. The Lions were in the lead 1-0 with 34:56 left in the first half.
The next goal came at 25:17, when Hefferan Nordlund slipped a pass to Painter. Painter shot to the right of the keeper, who this time was able to get a hand on the ball. However, given its pace, the ball rolled over the keeper’s fingers and into the net, putting the Lions at 2-0.
Newaygo then had a flurry of goals, putting five shots in net in the space of four minutes. The scoring bonanza began with McCaiden Rienstra, who with 22:41 minutes on the clock, received a Hefferan Nordlund pass. In the center of the box and facing the keeper, Rienstra made a controlled shot into the left corner, out of the keeper’s reach. This brought the Lions to 3-0.
Shortly after, Hefferan Nordlund passed to Painter, who was surging on the right side of the box. Painter crossed the ball to Rienstra, who was steps in front of the goal. Rienstra powered the ball into the back of the net, deflecting it off a Warriors defender. The Lions were up 4-0 with 20:34 minutes remaining.
As the Lions continued their offensive assault, Briones maneuvered the ball up the left side of the field, sending it forward to Landry Hefferan Nordlund. L. Hefferan Nordlund made a short pass to her sister, C. Hefferan Nordlund, who then beat the defender to put the ball into the right side of the net. The Lions had a 5-0 lead at 19:40.
At 18:49, C. Hefferan Nordlund put a ball forward to Painter. Painter quickly buried it, bringing the Lions to 6-0.
The final goal of the first half came with 9:36 remaining. Taking a corner kick on the right side, Painter dropped a beautiful ball into the box. As the ball descended, C. Hefferan Nordlund sprinted to the back post, pouncing for a header goal into the lower left corner. This brought the Lions to 7-0.
After the half, the Lions reconfigured their line-up, sending several players forward to hunt for the next goal. In the second half, Maddie Couch fired off five shots, Analeigha Bates put forward one, and Yuri Kasugi took two shots. However, the game winning mercy goal came with 22:50 minutes left the clock. As the Lions circulated the ball around the defense and midfield, Painter found space to send a ball forward to C. Hefferan Nordlund. With Aaliyah Hernandez crashing toward goal, Hefferan Nordlund put ahead a pass. Hernandez received the ball to the left center of the net, and making a move to beat the defender, fired off a shot into the back of the net, just to the right of the keeper. This brought the Lions to 8-0 and cemented the mercy win. Commenting on her first career goal, Hernandez said, “I’m so proud of myself! And, I can’t thank my teammates enough for setting up the perfect opportunity for me.”
All the Lions saw quality minutes in Monday’s game. While Lion Keeper Barbara Toth faced no shots, she was ready to spring at the slightest hint of danger. Meanwhile, the defensive line of Sofia Briggs, Maddie Couch, Natalie Richardson, and Rachel Larsen worked well with the midfield to ensure that only one ball ever made its way back to Toth.
Said Lions Coach Matt Painter “After winning the conference title Friday night, we came out ready to make a run at the conference tournament trophy. As the game progressed, I liked how our starters worked to pass the ball up to a couple of our players who had never scored. They were finally successful in helping one of our sophomores net her first career goal. We will now get ready for Reed City on Wednesday!”
The CSAA Tournament continues on Wednesday, May 17 when the Lions play a semifinals match against Reed City. The game will take place at 4:30 at the Lions Colosseum, also known as the Newaygo Middle School soccer field.
Photos by Bryan Kolk
The boys placed third with 84 points, Whitehall won with 222, and Ludington was 2nd with 87, at the conference championship meet. This gave them a third place overall in the conference. The meet was held at Whitehall with almost perfect weather. We had a few hiccups (Lost Connor Pettis to injury on Tuesday, Daniel Romero took a tumble in the 110s, and we unexpectedly scratched a couple of events), but mostly lots of good performances with personal records. We were really happy with the way the boys stepped up at a championship meet, focusing on controlling their own performance. Daniel Romero and Sean Pettis were our standout athletes; each earning a conference championship in two events. Daniel, the long jump and the 300 intermediate hurdles, Sean, the 1600 and 800 meter runs. Daniel went down in the 110 hurdle finals but recovered to finish 6th. He showed good character with his ability to shake that off and come back to win the 300s. Sean ran four events and Prd in all four. He fought off a strong challenge with 400 to go in the 1600 and ran away convincingly in the last 300. The boys 4 x 800 m relay team of Gary Springstead, Johnny Christensen, Chase Lowery, and Sean Pettis placed second with a time of 8:16.24.That’s the fastest time we have run since 2017. In the 1600 Henrik Quist took one of the hardest falls I have seen in a race other than the hurdles, got up and proceeded to run a PR. He also came back to PR in the 3200, dude is tough. Khai Noordyke made the finals in both the 100 and the 200 recording Prs in both.
Long Jump – Daniel Romero
300 Hurdles – Daniel Romero
800 – Sean Pettis
1600 – Sean Pettis
Athletes placing second or third were considered honorable mention all-conference. The following athletes earned this honor.
400 – 2nd Gary Springstead
4x800 relay – 2nd Gary Springstead, Johnny Christensen, Chase Lowery, Sean Pettis
Athletes placing in the top 6 scored points (athletes listed who have not already been above)
200 – 4th Jacob Burns, 6th Khai Noordyke
3200 – 3rd Sean Pettis, 5th Carter Sherman, 6th Blake Taylor
110 Hurdles – 4th Owen Hertel, 6th Daniel Romero
300 Hurdles – 5th Carter Rottman, 6th Owen Hertel
4x200 Relay – 6th Kyler Dekuiper, Khai Noordyke, Kolten Belmarez, Jacob Burns
4x400 Relay – 4th Chase Lowery, Owen Hertel, Bjorn Johnson, Gary Springstead
High Jump – 6th Owen Hertel
Linnea Paige captured 2nd in the 3600m coming in at 12:06.69 and also put up a Pr in the 1600m finishing in 5:28.86 for 5th place.
Victoria Ekkel placed 4th in the 100m with a 13.56 time then joined teammates Rachel Maddox, Cayman Ramsey, Ariana Tanner for a 3rd place finish in the 4x100m relay (1:58.12) and 4th in the 4x200 (1:58.12).
Maddox also finished 4th in the High Jump with a leap of 4’2” and Tanner added a 6th in the Long Jump sailing 13’2”
Olivia Stroven set a Pr in the Pole Vault capturing 3rd in the process by clearing 7’9” and added a 6th in the 400m hitting the finish line in 1:09.99.
Aerie Beecham flung the Discus 87’1” for the 5th place spot.
For the first time in a decade, the Lions win the CSAA conference title
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
Newaygo Lions Soccer is the 2023 Central States Athletic Association (CSAA) champion, after winning 3-2 at home against the Tri County Vikings.
The victory was nearly a month in the making, with the first 25.02 minutes of the match having been played on April 19. When that game ended early due to severe weather, the score stood 1-1, with Grace Painter having for scored for Newaygo off a free kick.
Since that day in April, both the Lions and Vikings have been on hot streaks, winning all of their respective matches and tying each other for the top spot in the CSAA standings. So, when the two teams faced off again on Friday, May 12, the stakes were high. With the regular season at a close, a conference title was on the line. Adding to the excitement, announcer Brian Janke welcomed fans to Newaygo’s “Colosseum” and introduced the players with a professional flair that whipped up the record number of fans on the sidelines.
The match opened with the remaining 14:58 minutes on the clock, 1-1 the scoreboard, and a drop ball to Tri County. Within seconds, the Lions invaded the Viking territory. Using their signature precision passing, the Lions had good ball movement as they patiently watched for their opportunity to spring. The moment came at 11:48, when after a deflection from Aby Lauryssens, Connelly Hefferan Nordlund brought the ball down, passing it to Lynnea Briones. Briones sent it back to Hefferan Nordlund, who rocketed in a shot from distance. The Lions fans erupted into wild applause, as Newaygo took the lead 2-1.
The remainder of the truncated first half saw Newaygo continuing to control the pace of the game. In the first half, Newaygo took 16 shots, with 10 on goal and 2 in goal. Tri County was able to fire off just 3 shots, with 1 on goal.
When play resumed following half-time, the Lions continued to dominate possession, but Tri County executed several quality transition plays and created chances to advance toward net. Their efforts paid off with 19.08 on the clock, when the Vikings snuck by the Newaygo defense, sending a low ball to the left of Lion Keeper Barbara Toth. The game was tied 2-2.
Amid cheers from fans and the player benches, the tied game had a renewed urgency that saw both the Lions and Vikings giving full effort. The Vikings have several skilled attackers, who like to shoot from distance. This required Newaygo’s talented defensive line of Sofia Briggs, Maddie Couch, Natalie Richardson, and Rachel Larsen to shut down attacks well before they were near the 18-yard box.
As both teams played passionately looking for advantage, Tri County fouled Newaygo with 12 minutes of game time remaining. Painter took the free kick, blasting the ball toward the left side of the net. Vikings keeper Herrington got a hand on the ball but could not control it, sending it back into play. Crashing the net, Briones pounced on the rebounded ball, driving it into the lower right side of the net. Briones’ goal brought the match to 3-2. Scoring the goal felt “unreal” said Briones. After the excitement, she said “the adrenaline hit to keep dominating and not let TC score.”
As the game minutes ticked down, the Vikings put full effort into scoring an equalizer, but they were unsuccessful. In one of the Vikings’ more threatening attacks, Sofia Briggs made a noteworthy and perfectly timed slide tackle to dispossess a player that had breached the backline. As the crowd went wild, Briggs sent the ball back up field and out of danger. In addition to her crucial in-goal stops, Lion Keeper Toth also made two important plays outside the box, using her feet to clear away the threats.
In the second half, the Lions had 8 shots, with 5 on goal and 1 in goal. The Vikings had 5 shots, with 2 on goal and 1 in goal. The game ended with Newaygo claiming the CSAA Conference Championship with a 3-2 win.
Said Newaygo’s Coach Matt Painter, “Is there a better way to end the regular season of conference play than by having the top two teams facing off on the last possible day in a winner takes all game? I loved how our girls were ready to step up for the challenge tonight! Tri County is a solid team that plays good, aggressive soccer. The second half tonight found us going back and forth with them, and both keepers made some crucial saves! I was so proud of how our girls handled the momentum shifts tonight, and they just kept sending balls at the net, eventually finding the game winner! This is the first conference title Newaygo has won in about a decade, and our girls have worked so hard for this! Even though a coach is never satisfied, I do feel we are playing our best soccer of the season so far! We will relish this win for the weekend and then refocus again for the conference tournament next week!”