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Meet the Hawks: Neil Gillett

Neil Gillett

Neil Gillett

Meet West Michigan Hawks center Neil Gillett. A graduate from Kent City High School, Neil played football until his sophomore year of high school, then chose to wrestle. He ended up wrestling at Pima Community College in Arizona.

Gillett’s biggest idols off the field are his mother and Jesus. His biggest sports idols are Larry Bird, Brett Favre, Kirk Gibson, and (golfer) Fred Couples.

Outside of football, Gillett can be found at church, doing volunteer work, golfing, or eating sushi.

“I love football, especially the team aspect,” he said when asked why he chose to be a Hawk. “Being part of a functioning organism is special. Nothing brings you closer to a group of guys faster than going out to fight with them. Being one of the older guys on the team, I think I realize how limited my time is still playing the game, so I really relish every moment I get practices, games, everything.”

Head coach/owner David Lange had great things to say about Gillett. “Neil is a guy that every coach would love to have. He is talented as a center, and he is uplifting for the

team. Outside of football he is a big teddy bear. Put a helmet and some pads on and the man can do some serious damage up front! I love Neil as a player and as a person, and I think he will contribute a lot in to the success of this team.”

You can see Neil and the West Michigan Hawks in their next game on Saturday, May 14, when they host the Lake Michigan Havoc at Skinner Field. This game will feature a benefit for Cedar Springs resident Brison Ricker, who is battling a brain tumor. Tickets will be $6 at the gate, with children 10 and under free. We hope to see you there!

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Two Red Hawks sign to play at Albion

Lane Gott (center).

Lane Gott (center).

Lane Gott signs with Albion

Cedar Springs senior Lane Gott recently signed a celebratory signing form stating that he had been accepted at Albion College, an NCAA Division III institution, and that in addition to academics, he intends to participate in the sport of football during the 2016-2017 school years.

Gott was part of the championship Red Hawk football team as both a junior and senior. “Lane has been an extremely versatile player for the last two seasons,” remarked head football coach Gus Kapolka. “He’s started 18 games at corner against some of the best competition in the state and held his own.  He was a leader in our senior class that went 14-6 over the last two seasons with back to back conference championships.”

Je’len Jackson signs with Albion

Je'len Jackson (center)

Je’len Jackson (center)

On April 27, Cedar Springs senior Je’len Jackson signed a celebratory signing form stating that he had been accepted at Albion College, an NCAA Division III institution, and that in addition to academics, he intends to participate in the sport of basketball during the 2016-2017 school years.

“After moving to Cedar Springs his sophomore year, Je’len became a strong contributor for the varsity, becoming one of the leading 3-point shooters and rebounders for the program,” stated Coach Patin.

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West Michigan Hawks start season with 46-0 victory

The Hawks start season with big win.

The Hawks start season with big win.

The West Michigan Hawks didn’t let the rain dampen their spirits on Saturday evening, April 29. Although the playing conditions weren’t ideal, the Hawks put together a complete effort in their 46-0 victory over the Highland Park Polar Bears at Skinner Field.

Acclimating to the weather was a bit of a challenge, as the team got off to a bit of a slow start offensively. But it was the defense that set the tone. The Hawks forced a safety midway through the first quarter to start the scoring, taking a 2-0 lead. Wide receiver Monte Swanigan hauled in a 60-yard pass from quarterback Charles Hodges on the next drive, and the two point conversion attempt was good, giving the Hawks a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Things really came together for the Hawks in the second quarter. Hodges scored on a two-yard quarterback keeper, running back Brant Brooks scored on a run, and cornerback Omar Haynes returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown in the quarter. The Hawks took a 32-0 lead into the locker rooms at the half.

The second half was played on a running clock, but that didn’t stop the Hawks from continuing what they started. Ryan Williams returned a punt for a touchdown during the middle portion of the quarter, and the Hawks led 40-0 after three quarters. Brooks scored his second touchdown on the last play of the game, making the final score 46-0.

“It was inspiring to see all of the new elements of the team come together with such enthusiasm,” said lineman Neil Gillett. “We have a lot of new guys on the team this year. The ability for us to come together and play so cohesively in such a short amount of time really speaks for the selfless quality and team focus of our men.”

Safety Robert Bell was also quite satisfied with the team’s effort. “This was a great first test for our team. We mentioned throughout the practice weeks about answering the call when adversity dials the number. We opened our arms to our brother Brant Brooks, who prior to the game lost his brother. This game allowed our team to solidify our brotherhood and turn life’s negatives into a community of positivity. It was also great to see Alan Beamer and his family accept the #12 jersey in his recognition of his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Life is bigger than self. Welcome to the West Michigan Hawks!”

Head coach David Lange was ecstatic after the game. “I’m very proud of our guys and what they have accomplished. We still have work to do, some corrections we need to make, but we did an outstanding job. We had our fun with this win, but now its time to move forward and focus on the next game on May 14th against the Lake Michigan Havoc.”

The game on May 14 will be played at Skinner Field, and is a benefit for Cedar Springs resident Brison Ricker, who is fighting a brain tumor. Doors will open at 5 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 6. Tickets are $6 a piece, with children 10 and under free, and proceeds will go to Ricker’s cause. We hope to see you there!

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Girls tennis takes second at Fruitport, wins Greenville match

Medal winners at Fruitport Tournament

Medal winners at Fruitport Tournament

Girls tennis won 6-2 at Greenville Monday.

Girls tennis won 6-2 at Greenville Monday.

The Cedar Springs girls tennis team took second place at the Fruitport Invitational on Saturday, April 29. Fruitport came in first place, followed by Cedar Springs, Greenville in third, and Coopersville in fourth place.

The Red Hawks played well, with several taking first and second place in their positions.

The number one doubles team of Anna Behrenwald and Mariah Rios took first place; and also taking first place was the number 2 doubles team of Alyssa Marshall and Morgan Shevock.

All of the Red Hawk singles finished in second place, including number 1 singles Emily Pastoor; number 2 singles Emma Schut; number 3 singles Jordan Ackerman; and number 4 singles Jessica Brunett.

On Monday, May 1, the Red Hawks traveled to Greenville and defeated them 6 to 2. Winning flights included number 1 singles Emily Pastoor; number 2 singles Emma Schut; number 3 singles Jordan Ackerman; number 4 singles Jessica Brunett; number 1 doubles Anna Behrenwald and Mariah Rios; and number 3 doubles Morgan Shevock and Michaela Tawney.

Their next match is at home against Northview on Monday, May 9.

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The West Michigan Hawks start season Saturday at home

Logan Crandall

Logan Crandall

West Michigan Hawks: Meet Logan Crandall

Meet starting left tackle Logan Crandall. A 2006 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, Logan has always stood out on the football field. After playing high school ball and wrestling at Cedar Springs, Logan went on to coach for Cedar Springs, as well as play in the semi-pro ranks with the Lakeshore Cougars since 2008. He is currently the offensive line coach for Holland West Ottawa High School.

Off the field, Logan is currently an engineer. He enjoys working out, playing basketball, and hanging out with his dog, Bo. His biggest idols are his parents, as well as every football coach he played for in Cedar. “Oh yeah, also new Hawks QB Manny Hodges,” said Crandall. “That guy is going to set this league on fire and is too cool!”

The day after the Cougars season ended in the playoffs last year, Hawks owner/head coach David Lange reached out to me and said he was going to do everything he could to bring me home to the Hawks,” said Crandall, when asked why he chose to become a member of the West Michigan Hawks. “After that, I set out to recruit a handful of talented former teammates and bring them to the already formidable team in place. Coach Kapolka has done a fantastic job building the high school team into a powerhouse and I wanted to help bring another exciting football product to Cedar Springs. It’s an opportunity for former high school players to continue their football careers and help build excitement about football in the community! I couldn’t be happier about my decision to come home and play for the Hawks!”

Lange had nothing but great things to say about Logan, as well. “Logan was not only a guy that we wanted, but a guy that we needed. A Cedar Springs product, and a good one. Why wouldn’t we want him? He’s big, he’s fast, and he knows how to create holes for our running backs. Logan is a great athlete, a true leader, and someone the line can look to. He has great speed for his size and I think he will be a tremendous addition to the line.”

The Hawks begin their 2016 season this Saturday, when they host the Highland Park Polar Bears. The game will be held at Skinner Field, with tickets available at the gate. Tickets are $6 a piece, with children 10 and under receiving free admission. Doors open at 5 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

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New girls 7-8 softball teams have winning records

8th Grade softball team

8th Grade softball team

From Amanda Gerhardt

The Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recration Department is proud to be offering a 7th and 8th grade Softball team for the first time. The teams are coached by Neal Kooiman, 7th grade, and Dave Castor, 8th grade. They held try outs in February and are fielding teams of 11 players each. The girls worked hard with practices in March and then started their season on April 11 at Northview. The teams have played Northview, Lowell, Godwin, Wyoming Lee, and Sparta, and so far and both teams have a winning record!

The 7th grade team has had some exciting moments including a homerun from Katelin Kooiman. The teams is currenlty 8-3. The next home game for them is on Monday May 2, versus Sparta. The game will be played at Rockford Springs Community Church on M57, just east of Ritchie. They will play a double header at 4:30 p.m. They will close out their season at home on Monday May 9 vs. Wyoming.

With a current record of 6-3 the 8th grade is doing great as well. They have seen some exciting homeruns from Kaylie Andres, Kyla Andres, Zoe Castor and a grand slam from Kaelyn Colclasure. They have their next home game on Wednesday, May 4 vs Sparta. There will be double header at 4:30 p.m. at Rockford Springs Community Church.

We hope you will get out to watch these girls and show them the support of our great Red Hawk Community!

7th Grade softball

7th Grade softball

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Girls tennis wins Sparta Invite

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The Cedar Springs Lady Red Hawks Varsity tennis team traveled to Sparta on April 16 to compete in the annual Sparta Invitational, and came home with the first place trophy. Host Sparta came in second place, followed by Fremont in third place, and Grand Rapids Union in fourth place.

According to Coach Ed Russel, medals were awarded to team members who finished in first or second place.

Cedar Springs players earning medals for first place included #1 singles Emily Pastoor; #2 doubles Anna Krupp and Alyssa Marshall; and #3 doubles Michaela Tawney and Morgan Shevock.

Taking second place for the Red Hawks was #3 singles Jordan Ackerman; #1 doubles Anna Behrenwald and Mariah Rios; and #4 doubles Makeelie Lemery and Sam Finch.

The rest of the lineup for the day included Emma Schut at #2 singles and Jessica Brunett at #4 singles.

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JV boys golf loses close match

 

The Cedar Springs JV Golf team lost a close one to Lowell 217-215 @ Cedar Chase on Thursday, April 14. This brings their season record to 1-1. Evan Galle and Dylan Tanis shot 53’s, Jarred Reyers 55 and Paul Krajewski 56.

“It was a good match,” said Coach London. “We have made some great strides so far this season.”

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WMP wrestlers earn All-American status

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Seven WMP wrestlers finished in the top 3 at the NUWAY Nationals 2016. Photo by M. Egan.

By Barbra Chong

West Michigan Pursuit traveled to the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek April 9-10 for the NUWAY Nationals 2016. All around, there were some tough wrestlers that came from all over the United States to compete at this event. WMP had nine grapplers enter the competition and seven finished in the top three, earning All-American status. Out of 33 battles, 23 victories were claimed. NUWAY Nationals had 458 teams registered and West Michigan Pursuit finished in 11th place.

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Third place medalists include 58 lb Luke Egan in Division 2, 7/8 age group and 55 lb Drew Moro in Division 1, 6 & under age group.

Second place medalists include 55 lb Quinten Cassiday in Division 2, 7/8 age group; 61 lb Chayson Eberspeaker in Division 1, 6 & under age group; 72 lb Blake Peasley in Division 2, 7/8 age group and 55 lb Josh Vasquez in Division 3, 9/10 age group.

National Champion is 59 lb Michael Cannon in Division 3, 9/10 age group.

“From the beginning, my mission has always been the Pursuit of Champions,” said head coach Dave Andrus. “I am extremely proud of the success we are having this year. It’s not always about how these kids win; recovering after an emotional loss and continuing to succeed is equally important. These are valuable life lessons as they continue to grow and mature. I feel fortunate to have so many parents trust me as I try to instill these values into their kids.”

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Youth wrestlers compete at state

By Jacquie Troupe

Pictured left to right is Coach Bryan Goike, Jonathan Libera-7th place, Coach Jake Marsman and Coach Scott Marsman.

Pictured left to right is Coach Bryan Goike, Jonathan Libera-7th place, Coach Jake Marsman and Coach Scott Marsman. By Jacquie Troupe

Jonathan Libera, Blake Falan, Gavyn Byxbe, Hudson Crystal, Keaton Klaasen, Trevor Marsman and Andrew Van Gessel and their families travelled to Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek for the MYWA State Tournament over the weekend. They had 30 matches, finishing the weekend 16-14. Jonathan Libera placed 7th in the 11-09 61lb division.

We are proud of how our kids did this weekend and all year,” said coach Scott Marsman.It is a long season and they wrestled hard and never gave up. Thank you to all of the athletes and their parents for a wonderful season and we look forward to working with you next year.”

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