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High School Football & Water Polo: August 12th
All other High School sports: August 14th
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West Ottawa High School Golf Varsity Boys finishes 1st place at Regionals
Golf Varsity Boys
West Ottawa Jr. Luke Overbeek carded an individual low score of 75 to tie for 3rd Place against the rest of the MHSAA Regional 1 Battle Creek Golf Tournament. Luke beat the other 12 individuals that qualified for Regionals at Muskegon CC and El Dorado GC in Holt. Luke beat them to qualify to move on against the players from non-qualifying teams. Luke ended up tied with Brandon Poll of Lowell who shot 75. In a one hole playoff Luke was defeated when Poll rolled in a birdie 4 on the par 5 9th hole at Cedar Creek GC. Luke advanced farther than any Panther has in 7 years.
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WO Athletes Serve as Little League Umpires
By Samantha Boggs
“The umpires at my games sometimes, they make good calls, but there are bad calls too. One day, I want to be an umpire so I can make all the right calls,” Little League Baseball player Zachary Boggs said. Boggs might not have to wait as long as he thinks to become an umpire. Many West Ottawa student athletes get paid for umpiring at Little League baseball games. These students get three things out of umpiring: a small paycheck, interesting stories, and a new respect for the job.
For sophomore Houston Bedford, umpiring is a good first job to earn a little extra money. “I have been umpiring for a couple weeks. Umpiring is a paid job, and depending on what field you are on, you can get paid a little more for doing it. There is little fields and big fields. When you umpire on the big fields, you get paid a little more. You can earn like 20 bucks per game, and usually you umpire two games in a night. It’s a fun first job, and I would recommend it to people,” Bedford said.
Since WO’s student athletes umpire for young, Little League baseball players, they often walk away with interesting stories. “Once, there was a kid that was maybe four feet tall. Every time he would swing, he would swing all the way through and do a 360 spin because the bat was too heavy for him. That was pretty funny,” Jr. Reily Riemersma said.
McNitt soon learned that you can’t please everyone while you are umpiring. “Earlier this season while umpiring, I was a part of a crew who had to kick a parent out of a Little League game, and yes I did say Little League. The whole game was stressful. I was behind the plate and everything was going great, no dumb coaches or parents yelling or getting angry. Then all of a sudden, one coach starts yelling at me because he thought an opposing player stepped over the batter’s box while hitting. So I told him I’d watch it, and I did. Then when I decided it was too hard to watch that and balls and strikes, he hit the ball. Then I really heard it: “I warned you 5 or 6 times.” “Do you even know the rules?” “You’re not doing a good job right now.” It took everything in me not to say something I’d regret later,” McNitt said. The parent who got upset continued to raise her voice and eventually was asked to leave the Little League game.
It’s easy to blame umpires for bad calls, but the student athletes admit that it’s harder than it looks to umpire. “Umpiring is very stressful because everyone is always on your case,” McNitt said. “Umpiring behind the plate was a little bit harder than I thought it was going to be. Generally, if umpires make a bad call, people can get mad and frustrated.” Bedford said. Riemersma agrees that getting behind the plate can sometimes be difficult. “Now that I have umpired, I see how hard the job is. It’s not always hard, but when you have parents screaming at you it sucks. Once I had a dad stand behind the plate the whole entire game and he called balls and strikes. That was pretty annoying,” Riemersma said. These student umpires learned that all eyes are on them during the Little League games. “Parents and even coaches have no idea what I see and sometimes even the rules of the game. Like last year in my last game umpiring. It was a close game. Two outs. Runner on second. The kid hits a hard ground ball that obviously was a fair ball. The batter refused to run, saying it was foul. I didn’t need to say anything saying it was fair, so I just told the batter to run, but he wouldn’t. He got out and the coaches decided to let ME have it. They were upset I didn’t call it fair even though it’s not my job to do so,” McNitt said.
Since WO students have started umpiring, they have grown a new respect for the job. “I definitely have a lot more respect for umpires now since I’m doing it,” Riemersma said. For McNitt, being an umpire himself has helped him try to see other umpires in a new light. “I’ve always been one to get upset about referees of any kind. I tell them when they are wrong and show my frustration with them. Umpiring the past two years has given something of a realization; umpiring and refereeing is one tough job. There are about a million rules umpires are expected to learn, and no matter how much coaches and parents want us to, we don’t see everything. This summer I really made a conscious effort not to argue because I know how hard their job really is. I always thought I could do a better job than refs, my oh my was I wrong,” McNitt said.
Close calls have helped WO students realize that umpiring is harder than it looks. Umpiring has given students a little extra money, memories, and respect for the umpires who work at their games.
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wopanthers.com NEXT: James Lacy
The East Grand Rapids Pioneer crowd was making it extremely difficult for West Ottawa Sr. quarterback Trevor VanTubbergen to run the offense. The Panthers led by a strange score of 2-0 after Sr. lineman Matthew Franken blocked a punt in the endzone for a safety. With the game still young and the score so close, the crowd in East Grand Rapids was doing their best to influence the play on the field and keep the score to a one possession game. It was second down with ten yards to go from their own twenty-five yard line after a failed passing play on first down. Communicating passing plays with an onslaught of noise is rather difficult, so the Panthers elected to attack by running the ball. Soph. James Lacy headed left and took a pitch from VanTubbergen. A huge block from Sr. wide receiver Ato Condelee sprung Lacy loose down the sideline past his screaming teammates. Another monster block came from the hustling Jr. fullback Matt Donker which opened up even more running room for Lacy. The speedster was finally run out of bounds at the five yard line after rushing for fifty yards. A lead run with Lacy on the ensuing first down got barely two yards and a quarterback sneak on the next play also came up short of the endzone. It was third and goal from the one yard line and the Panthers went back to Lacy. He pounded it into the middle of the pile and pushed his way across the goal line scoring his first career touchdown as a member of the West Ottawa Varsity Football team. “I was so pumped. I tried not to act so pumped, but when I got to the sideline I was really excited,” Lacy said.
This young star’s football career began in 7th grade as a member of the Harbor Lights Middle School team. After one year he decided to put football on hold and spend time working on his basketball skills as an 8th grader. Lacy missed football though, and in the fall of his freshman year he returned to the field to play with the ole’ pigskin. This year as a sophomore he was pulled up to Varsity because the coaching staff thought his speed and athleticism belonged with the big boys. The Varsity team calls him James “The Jet” Lacy with good reason.
Having entirely skipped JV, Lacy knew nothing of the Varsity style of play and it was important that his senior teammates step up and help him out. “Steven Benavides was one of the guys who told me that because I’m a little guy that when I run at people I need to lower my shoulder. Ryan Verhelst, Ato Condelee, and Trevor VanTubbergen taught me how to do plays and everybody seemed to help me out a little bit,” Lacy said. Lacy already had the raw talent. All he needed was some find tuning, pointers, and most of all he needed confidence. As the season progressed not only did Lacy’s confidence in his own ability grow, but the coaching staff and those around him also began to see how good this kid could be.
Finding a comparison to Lacy wasn’t necessarily easy, but there is one overwhelmingly prominent example of what Lacy could become. “De’Anthony Thomas’s outstanding versatility and incredible combination of speed and quickness have allowed him to change games for his team in the blink of an eye,” Joey Holland of the Bleacher Report said. Just switch Thomas’s name out and insert Lacy’s, and Holland’s statement is equally as valid. Both show natural ability that can’t be taught and explosiveness beyond imagination. “I follow how explosive he is and how fast he is and I want to be like that in years to come. So I study what he does and I try do it and practice and try to get faster and more explosive in my moves and cuts,” Lacy said. With two years still to go in his high school career, it’s a no brainer that Lacy will become more and more like Thomas on the field.
Thomas is a Division 1 talent currently attending the University of Oregon, but the National Football League is in his near future. Lacy too would like to continue his football career after high school. “I’d really like to play football in college. It’d prove that all my hard work and dedication to the sport paid off,” he said.
Lacy’s shining moment came in round one of the playoffs. West Ottawa was hosting the Grand Ledge Comets who had beaten them early on in the season. Going in all the hype was over the Comet’s Jr. running back Joe Reverman and whether the Panther defense would be able to stop him. No one imagined that Lacy would go toe to toe with Reverman in the stat book.
West Ottawa Jr. cornerback Alex Zimmerman had snuffed a Grand Ledge scoring opportunity with an interception on the four yard line. So the Panthers found themselves with a first and ten from their own four yard line. The scoreboard still read 0-0, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. West Ottawa set up with two in the backfield; Donker at fullback and Lacy at tailback. Both Donker and Lacy were set a little to VanTubbergen’s right as the senior quarterback took the snap. It was a designed run straight up the gut, Lacy received the handoff from VanTubbergen and Donker shot into the gap to take on the rushing Grand Ledge linebacker. Donker’s block gave Lacy some daylight, but it was Sr. offensive guard Miguel Correa who sealed the hole for Lacy. “The Jet” shot into the secondary untouched and suddenly it was a footrace to the endzone. The problem for Grand Ledge was that Lacy was the fastest kid on the field and he had no intention of getting caught. Lacy hauled it to the endzone for a 96 yard touchdown run (a West Ottawa record) to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead. “I remember that play every day and every night. I have the video on my phone and I go back and watch it all the time,” he said. Lacy would end his career night with 151 yards rushing.
Looking forward to next year, Lacy wants to continue improving his speed, strength, and decision making. He’d also like to acquire ankle-breaking quickness that will juke opponents out with ease. Agility is by far the best part of his game at the moment and when Lacy beefs up a bit he’s going to turn into a formidable force on the football field. From a team perspective, the Panthers are returning a good amount of players including Lacy’s fellow “Wopanthers.com NEXT: Athlete of the Future” Mason Dekker. “I’ve got a really good feeling that we can win Districts next year and the conference. I really want to beat Rockford at home,” Lacy said. As has been custom in the OK Red in recent memory, the road to the conference title goes through Rockford. In the 2013 season the Panthers will have a chance to take on their bitter rivals in front of a home crowd in an attempt to avenge the seasoning ending playoff loss from the year before.
Lacy’s Varsity talents aren’t limited to just football. He’s also the fastest 100 Meter runner on the track and field team. He started running track as a freshman, but he resisted at first. He didn’t really like that idea of running for fun, but Athletic Director Pat Marsman wasn’t about to let Lacy’s speed go to waste when the track and field team needed someone like him. “I really didn’t want to do it and then Mr. Marsman came to me during the winter and said I should try it out. So I tried it out and I became accomplished. I got all-conference my freshman year. I got my best times and I got more explosive, and that carried over to football too,” Lacy said. He ran three events for the West Ottawa team as a freshman; the 100 Meter Dash, the 4×100 Meter Relay, and the 4×200 Meter Relay.
“I won my first race as a freshman against Grand Haven. I had the best time I’d had all year and I won by a lot. I killed it. I had lost to East Kentwood and Muskegon because they had all the fast guys and I was worried I wasn’t ever going to win, but Coach kept telling me to keep working and I did it against Grand Haven,” Lacy said. This was Lacy’s first win, but it also marked the beginning of a continually marvelous career in track and field. It was the encouragement from Varsity Track and Field Head Coach Craig Kingma that kept Lacy mentally ready throughout the season. “Coach Kingma really helps me out with my form. I’ve learned that in track it’s not a whole lot about speed. It’s a lot about technique. So he taught me that and Ato Condelee taught me a lot about speed. Ato always says he can beat me and then we race. He always helps me with my starts before races,” Lacy said.
The most memorable moment of his young career came in the first meet of this past season. East Kentwood came in as the No. 1 ranked team in the state. The perennial power would have the eventual No. 1 100 Meter runner in the state in Soph. Kevin Smith, but in track and field every meet is a different result. Obviously speed is speed and sometimes that can’t be matched, but Lacy is fast enough to at least threaten Smith. In that first meet of the season Lacy did that and more, beating Smith and winning the race outright with a career best time of 11.24 seconds.
Although his 100 Meter time from that first meet against East Kentwood wouldn’t be topped until the Regional Finals, Lacy didn’t care. Running an 11.12 second 100 Meter Dash at the Regional Finals in Grand Haven qualified Lacy for his first ever State Finals. “It felt good to reach the State Finals. I didn’t even know I qualified in the 100 until Mr. Marsman told me. It feels really good and exciting, although I’m really nervous, but that’s what it’s like before any race. I just have to go out there and perform my best,” he said. Lacy also gets to share the moment with three of his teammates who will be joining him at the State Meet. Lacy qualified in the 100 Meter Dash as he mentioned, but also in the 4×100 Meter Relay with Condelee, Sr. Austin Vasquez, and fellow “Wopanthers.com NEXT: Athlete of the Future” Frosh. Jesse Grover.
Lacy and the 4×100 Meter Relay team took 15th in Division 1 and in the 100 Meter Dash, Lacy earned all-state honors by finishing eighth in the state of Michigan.
Folks don’t call him “The Jet” for nothing. Lacy has tremendous upside and is pure speed just like a jet, making him the fifth and final piece of the “Wopanthers.com NEXT Athletes of the Future” series. This chain of feature articles has informed students, parents, faculty, and everyone associated with West Ottawa about the skills and rising talent in the younger generations. “Wopanthers.com NEXT Athletes of the Future” has given people someone in particular to watch for in the coming years.
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Condelee, Lacy Earn All-State: Lead Boys Track/Field to 13th Overall Finish
West Ottawa sent four boys to the State Meet in East Kentwood Saturday; Sr. Ato Condelee, Sr. Austin Vasquez, Frosh. Jesse Grover, and Soph. James Lacy. All were members of the 4×100 Meter Relay team, but three of the four qualified individually. Condelee also qualified in both the high jump and the long jump. He knew he could potentially do very well in the high jump, but his main focus was the long jump in which he hasn’t performed up to his expectations during the past two State Meets. Grover also qualified in the 200 Meter Dash, and Lacy made it for the 100 Meter Dash. The four Panthers were happy to be there and made the most of the opportunity.
High Jump: Condelee was ranked 13th coming into the event, but that ranking was based off his Regional Meet height of 6’3″. His career best is 6’7″ which would have tied him for the 2nd overall seed. The opening height was 6’1″ and Condelee flew over the bar with ease on his first jump. The same thing went for the next height at 6’3″ and even the height that had tripped him up at the Regional Meet; 6’5″. Then it was on to 6’7″, Condelee’s personal record. Two others jumpers had both cleared on their second jump and when Condelee failed on his first two attempts he began to get a bit worried. On his last attempt he grazed the bar, but it did not fall and Condelee shot off the mat elated. He couldn’t quite make it over the height of 6’8″ and had to settle for a very impressive third place finish. That finish gave Condelee All-State honors.
100 Meter Dash: James Lacy represented West Ottawa in the event and his qualifying FAT time of 11.12 had him seeded 11th overall. The runners were sprinting into a headwind so all of the times were a bit slower than usual. Nonetheless, Lacy took third in the prelims with a time of 11.41 to move onto the semifinals. Once there, he ran an 11.40 to take fifth. The only problem was that just the top four runners from each of the two semifinals races would make the final. The good news was that because East Kentwood has nine running lanes, the next fastest time of the two heats would then move on. Novi Jr. Jordan Love ran the exact 11.40 second time as Lacy so the officials were forced to review the tape and bring it down to the thousandths place. After about an hour of review by several officials, Lacy was awarded the ninth and final lane in the finals by about one thousandth of a second. Only the top eight finishers are awarded All-State, so Lacy still had one more place to make up in the finals. He did exactly that, overtaking Holland Sr. Brian DeWilde at the finish line.
Lacy took eighth because he stuck his chest out at the finish line as opposed to DeWilde who stuck his head out. The judges look for the chest and not the head when determining a winner. “Coach Kingma taught me that yesterday in practice,” Lacy said afterwards, “I wouldn’t be All-State right now if he hadn’t.” Lacy is officially the third fastest sophomore in Michigan and more importantly is the eighth fastest 100 Meter runner in Division 1.
200 Meter Dash: Grover qualified for this event with a time of 22.90 seconds which seeded him 27th. Grover didn’t run his best race and was a little bummed out after the fact, but he’s only a freshman and he has three very bright years ahead of him. On a positive note, Grover did finish 26th overall, one ahead of his original ranking.
Long Jump: Condelee’s second event of the day was one he won’t soon forget. His jump of 21’11” had him seeded 7th, but this was the event he was most excited for and he knew he could finish better than 7th. On his first jump of the day, Condelee wowed the audience with a gigantic leap of 23’3/4″. That mark would never be beaten as no other jumpers could even hit 23 feet. Condelee scratched on his next five attempts and missed out on a possible school record. The record was set by Deshaun Mingo in 2007 with a jump of 23’4″. Condelee didn’t seem bothered though because he claimed his first State Title ever. He was West Ottawa’s first track and field State Champion since Chip Owen in 1999. Condelee also joined John Helder and Mingo as one of three Panthers to ever jump over 23 feet. Condelee’s jump earned him All-State honors for the second time in the meet.
4×100 Meter Relay: The relay team of Condelee, Vasquez, Grover, and Lacy came in ranked 27th with a goal to at least crack the top 20. Condelee ran a hard first leg and Vasquez ran an even faster second leg to move the team into fourth in the heat. Grover took the baton with 200 meters to go and kept the Panthers in fourth. Lacy got the baton for the final leg and ran his fourth blistering 100 meters of the day, overtaking the third place team from Holly High School almost immediately and then also managing to run down and pass the second place team from Redford Thurston High School. West Ottawa took second in their heat with a time of 43.59 which gave them the 15th overall best time and narrowly missed the West Ottawa school record time of 43.50 seconds.
Out of the 69 teams that registered points on Saturday, the West Ottawa Panthers emerged as the number 13 team in Division 1. Thanks in part to Condelee and Lacy, the Panthers can celebrate a number 13 finish at the State Meet. Rival Rockford only managed to score three points the entire meet and ended of finishing 56th.
The girls track and field team also sent two runners to the State Meet. Sr. Lauren Deshaw qualified for the 800 Meter Run and held her own, earning her No. 22 ranking by finishing in 22nd place. Jr. Molly Borgman represented West Ottawa in two different hurdling events. She didn’t seem to be at her best in the 100 Meter Hurdles prelims, but still managed to squeak into the semifinals. Once there, she ran better, but still not up to her personal record and she was devastated to find she had missed the finals by one place. Borgman bounced back in the 300 Meter Hurdles, moving from her No. 17 ranking to finish in 16th with a time of 47.14 seconds.
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2013-2014 Competitive Dance Teams Announced
Congratulations go out to the following members of the 2013-2014 JV and Varsity West Ottawa Competitive Dance Teams. We had many wonderful dancers try out and would like to encourage everyone to keep dancing. If you were not able to be placed on a team this year, please continue to practice and we would love to see you try out again next year. If you have any questions about team placement please feel free to contact me.
2013-2014 Varsity Dance Team
2013-2014 JV Team
Again, if your name is not listed, we hope you continue to be involved in dance and try out again with us next year.
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Boys Junior Varsity Lacrosse, Boys Varsity Lacrosse·
JV LAX Recap: Best Moments of the Season
By: Sutton Smith
Through the awful weather and the depressing losses, the JV lacrosse team had an amazing season overall with priceless memories that the players will remember forever. Lacrosse is played with intensity, and most of the time the team took the game seriously. As the season came to an end, the win/loss ratio sat at 9-3 and spirits were quite high. The season-ending tournament was enjoyable and the team left with smiles on their faces. Through the laughter and jokes, and the blood and tears, the lacrosse season’s best moments will be remembered.
Practice quickly became an important piece to every player’s day. No matter how much the team was forced to run, each athlete found enjoyment in practice. The joking and “yardsale wars” carried on even when the kids were yelled at. The best moment of practice had to be when the team was scrimmaging against themselves and attack man Soph. Brenden Doyle was unknowingly guarding his own goalie during a play. The goalie had the ball and was supposed to pass it down, but Doyle was unknowingly checking him and keeping him back. This continued for a few minutes straight. For the team, it was a hilarious moment in practice. Moments like that made the season’s practices unforgettable.
Around mid-season there was nothing better than winning. The JV team was on a six game winning streak and felt on top of the world. “It was the best feeling in the world,” Frosh. Mitchell Williams said. The streak did end though in an unfortunate loss against Forest Hills Central, and it created a depression amongst the players. The team struggled to win the next few games, and had low spirits coming into the big Rockford game. The day of the game came quick and every player that Saturday morning was radiating positive energy. The game was seemingly over before it started and Rockford was sent back home with frowns on their faces. West Ottawa had won. Not only had the Panthers won, but they had completely destroyed Rockford.
A few games later, on Hudsonville’s once grassy field, the team huddled, ready for the game to come. Plotting different plays and eying the foot of sloppy mud under their feet. The field was covered in slippery, thick, and disgusting coat of mud. One couldn’t run without slipping, let alone sprint across the field, but the game went on. Right in the beginning of the game, Soph. Braeden Hammond was sprinting down the field with possession of the ball when his cleats went up and he went sliding down the mud field. “The Hudsonville game had to be my favorite game out of the whole season. I could not stop laughing when Braeden got up soaked in mud. You couldn’t even see the number on his back anymore,” Frosh. Connor Panse said.
The JV lacrosse season sadly came to an end, but the memories of the best moments will stick with the players forever.
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Panthers Send Six Athletes to D1 Track/Field State Finals
It is a tremendous accomplishment to be able to represent one’s school at the State Finals in anything. This spring season the Girls Varsity Tennis team got there as well as six of West Ottawa’s finest track and field athletes. The boys track team had four athletes qualify in five different events. The girls track team sent two runners in three separate events. The State Meet will take place at East Kentwood High School on Saturday, June 1 beginning with field events at 9:30 a.m.
Jesse Grover (Frosh.): This young star was a welcome surprise to the Varsity team this year. In his first year ever running track, Grover shaved off two and a half seconds from his first meet 200 Meter Dash time of 25.44 seconds. He set a new personal record in four of the five meets he ran the Varsity 200 in. His best time came when he needed it most. In the finals of the Regional Meet, Grover shocked those watching, including his own team, as he ran the 200 Meter Dash in a stunning 22.90 seconds to take second. That second place finish qualified him for the State Finals where he is ranked 27th. Grover also qualified as a part of the 4×100 Meter Relay team in which he runs the third leg.
James Lacy (Soph.): Lacy entered the season as hands down the fastest kid on the West Ottawa track team. He established this early when he beat No. 2 ranked Kevin Smith of East Kentwood in the 100 Meter Dash with a hand-time of 11.24 seconds. That time was later converted to an 11.54, so technically Lacy’s fastest time of the season before the Regional Meet was 11.44 seconds at Grand Haven. He would shatter that time at the Regional Meet, crossing the finish line in 11.12 seconds which, when converted to a hand-time, qualified him for the State Finals despite the fact that he finished fourth. His 10.8 second hand-time has him ranked as the 11th fastest 100 Meter runner in Division 1. Lacy also qualified with the 4×100 Meter Relay team in which he runs the fourth and final leg.
Ato Condelee (Sr.): Condelee qualified for his first State Finals in 2011 as a sophomore in the long jump. Now two years later in his last hurrah as a student at West Ottawa, Condelee is going for it all. He finished sixth in both the high jump and the long jump last season and he has qualified in both of those events again this year. He is ranked 13th in high jump with a height of 6’3″ going into Saturday, but athletes are seeded by their regional results not by their season bests. Condelee’s season best is 6’7″ which would then tie him for the number two spot, so generally speaking Condelee has the opportunity to do something great. Condelee’s long jump length of 21’11” at the Regional Meet gave him the 7th seed at the State Finals. Just like the high jump though, his best performance of 22’7″ at the Metro Health Meet of Champions would put him in a tie for the number two overall seed. Condelee also qualified as a member of the 4×100 Meter Relay team in which he is the lead-off man.
Austin Vasquez (Sr.): He had never qualified for the State Finals before and this was his last chance. He ran the second leg of the 4×100 Meter Relay and now has the opportunity to represent his school for the first time ever at the State Finals. A season best time of 43.91 seconds gave the relay team a second place finish at the Regional Meet and a spot at the State Finals where they will be ranked 27th.
Molly Borgman (Jr.): She’s been eying a return trip to the State Finals all season, and now she has her chance; in two different events. Borgman was born to hurdle as she’s completely dusted opponents all season long. In the 100 Meter Hurdles regional semifinals Borgman was chewed out by and official for an apparent false start, but as it turned out there had been a malfunction with the gun and Borgman was allowed to remain in the race. The damage had already been done by the official though as the teary-eyed Borgman retook her position in the blocks. As the gun sounded for real, she let everyone else jump out ahead of her in fear of a true false start. She was at a disadvantage from the get-go, but Borgman still managed to pass each opponent and cruise to victory. She would qualify for the State Finals shortly thereafter with a time of 15.17 seconds which puts her at No. 7 in Division 1. She also qualified in the 300 Meter Hurdles with a time of 46.67 seconds. The road to her second qualification was much less stressful and she deservedly earned her No. 17 ranking.
Lauren Deshaw (Sr.): Another trip for this senior required a lot of hard work, but she made it. Deshaw ran in several different events over the course of the season and could have represented West Ottawa at the Regional Meet in all of them, but her best chance to qualify for the State Finals was in the 800 Meter Run so she elected to focus solely on that. Her 2:19.31 time at the GVSU Invitational in late March would have left her way out of State Finals contention, but dedication and belief in herself allowed Deshaw to bring her time all the way down to 2:19.8 at the Regional Meet. This time granted her a trip to the State Finals for the final time, where she will be seeded 23rd.
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Girls Junior Varsity Tennis, Girls Varsity Tennis·
WO Tennis Qualifies for State Finals
By: Paige Trujillo
Jr. Bethany Paarlberg hit a solid forehand. An opposing Grand Haven player sliced it back and Sr. Claudia Barajas saw her chance. She raced to the net and pounded a volley to the corner, sending it just out of reach of the Grand Haven girls on the other side of the net. The ball landed in the court, scoring the last point West Ottawa needed to win the match. The West Ottawa girls turned to each other, hugging and laughing as they celebrated. This was the final match of the Regional tournament, and the win secured a tie for first place. Just as importantly, the Panthers qualified for the State Tournament.
“It was an 18 point set,” Barajas said, “We had lost the first set, but won the second. So our last set was a tie breaker.” The pressure to win was on, and the girls rose to the challenge.
“I was serving on the Ad side [Advantage Court]. My coach told Claudia to stay in the back because her forehand was stronger, and my volleys were stronger. The match ended with Claudia sending over a volley,” said Paarlberg.
“I usually play up at the net but for that game I was in the back lobbing the ball at the other team,” Barajas said, “Lobbing was our biggest strategy for those games, and I think that’s how we won the match.”
Both girls agreed that one of the biggest things that helped them win the match was staying positive. “Claudia and I needed to stay positive because we knew that would put us on top,” Paarlberg said, “When Grand Haven was getting sad you could tell, and then their game would slip up. We knew we had to stay positive no matter what the score was and have a good time. I think our positive attitude was what really pushed us to win.”
“I try not to focus on the overall score, because it can put you off,” Barajas said, “If you’re behind in points then you can play worse because you’re focusing on that. I really try to stay positive through the game.”
The duo is now busy preparing for the State Tournament, which will be held on May 31 and June 1in Midland. “Now we’re preparing to focus on how we played because it worked well for us,” Paarlberg said. The two girls are proud of their accomplishment, and rightly so. West Ottawa will be cheering these Panthers on and wishing them the best of luck at State.
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West Ottawa High School Soccer Varsity Girls beats Wyoming High School 3-1
Soccer Varsity Girls
WO opened the socring in the 10th minute as Lauren Wight took a throw in from Katie Rietberg and buried a shot high, near post from 10 yards out. Despite many chances the Panthers were unable to score again in the first half. Wyoming scored 2 minutes into the second half after a 45 minute delay as an attempted clear by Brooke VanKampen deflected off an onrushing attacker deflected toward the Panther net and was touched in by Wyoming. Despite constant pressure for the remainder of the half WO did not put the game away until late with two goals in the final 10 minutes. WO's second goal was scored by Annie Veld on an assist from Midge Carter on a hard low shot near past from the top of the box. The Final goal was scored by Katie Rietberg as she beat two defenders off the dribble and drove a shot near post.