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Former CSHS track athlete is national Champion 

Justin Balczak captured the 2015 NCAA Division II decathlon national championship, picking up his second individual national title. Photo by Joe Reinsch, Asuza Pacific University.

Justin Balczak captured the 2015 NCAA Division II decathlon national championship, picking up his second individual national title. Photo by Joe Reinsch, Asuza Pacific University.

Justin Balczak (center) on winner’s stand. Photo courtesy Jeff Myers.

Justin Balczak (center) on winner’s stand. Photo courtesy Jeff Myers.

Grand Valley State University hosted the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships on May 21-23. Former state champion hurdler, Justin Balczak (class of 2011), who attends Azusa Pacific University in California, competed in the decathlon, a grueling two-day event.

The event accumulates points based on how close the decathletes come to the world record mark in each event. Upon the conclusion of each event, the athletes are given 30 minutes to prepare for their next. There is very little mental and physical rest.

On day one, Justin competed in the 100m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m dash. Balczak posted an 11.37 in the 100; long jumped 23’ 2”; threw the 16lb. shot put 42’ 8”; won the high jump event at 6’ 7.5”; and ran the 400 in 50.36 seconds. After the first day of competition, Justin led the field of 15.

Day two started with the 110m hurdles, followed by the discus, pole vault, javelin, and concluded with the 1500m run. His 14.71 seconds in the hurdles placed him second; he struggled in the discus by throwing 116’ 3”; placed second in the pole vault with a jump of 14’ 11”; threw the javelin 175’ 10”; and finished the 1500 in 4:43.99. His points earned declared him national champion in Division II.

This was Justin’s first outdoor national championship, while he won the heptathlon this past winter. “It’s terribly taxing on the mind and body,” remarked Justin. “You learn that you have to forget the last event and prepare for the next.”

He is coached by former Olympic decathlete, Brian Clay.

In July, Justin will compete in the Pan-American Games in Toronto. With success, he can earn a roster spot on the U.S. National team.

Balczak is a well decorated collegiate athlete. He has earned All-American status four consecutive years competing in indoor track and field (three at Lake Superior State University and one at Azusa Pacific), while being awarded All-American three times in the outdoor season (two at LSSU and his first at A.P.U.). He has one season of eligibility remaining in outdoor track and field.

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Three Red Hawk grads national champs in cheer

(L to R) Brittani Tozer, Heather Howard, and Amber Dunham are part of the Davenport University Cheer Team, which won national championships in both Competitive cheer and Stunt this spring.

(L to R) Brittani Tozer, Heather Howard, and Amber Dunham are part of the Davenport University Cheer Team, which won national championships in both Competitive cheer and Stunt this spring.

Three Cedar Springs High School graduates performed a rare feat—they captured two national championships, in different events, in the same season. Brittani Tozer, Heather Howard, and Amber Dunham, accomplished this in Competitive Cheer and Stunt, as part of the Davenport University Cheer team.

The team won their third national competitive cheer title in a row, after competing on April 9 and 10, in Daytona Beach, Florida. On April 9, 26 teams participated in the preliminaries, with Davenport finishing in the top spot. Half the teams moved on to the finals on April 10, with Davenport performing last. They had a near perfect performance to win the NCA/NDA Division III All Girls Competitive Cheer National Championship.

In May, the team won their first national title in Stunt, in which they have only competed two years. The dates were May 1-3, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The top four schools in each division were invited to participate. The divisions were I and II, and Davenport was rated 2 in Division II. Their challenge was to defeat Oklahoma Central University, who had won this championship three years in a row. The tournament was double-elimination. Davenport defeated Oklahoma Central in the semi-final, and then again in the final.

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Meet the Hawks: Joel Paasch


By Shae Brophy

Meet cornerback Joel Paasch. A 2010 Tri County High School graduate who is originally from “small town” Howard City, MI, Paasch moved around a lot as a kid, but somehow made his way back north. One of the rookies on the team, Joel has always enjoyed playing sports. He played as many sports as possible during school, eventually getting into MMA for about two years, before being able to step back on the field wearing a Hawks jersey.

“Football is where my heart is,” were Joel’s exact words.

His number one idol in life has always been his father. Joel, who is also one of the captains on the team, credits his Dad for the way he helped raise him as a kid, pushing him to be the best he could be and reaching his full potential, and teaching Joel the right morals to become the man he is today.

Outside of football and work, Joel enjoys spending time with his daughter, going to the gym, and spending time with friends and family with a grill.

When asked what his desire to join the Hawks was based on, Joel’s response was simple: “For love of the game.”

Coach David Lange has nothing but good things to say about what Joel brings to this team. “Joel is fun to watch because he is a heavy hitter, and he is always ready to work,” he explained. “Regardless of whether its practice, a game, or a community event, his work ethic is second to none.”

Paasch and the West Michigan Hawks will be in action this Saturday, as they travel to Battle Creek to take on the #3 ranked Battle Creek Coyotes. Fans are invited to make the trip with the team, as they take on their biggest challenge to date. The game will be played at Battle Creek Central High School, located at 100 West VanBuren Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017. We hope to see you come out and support your team!

Shae Brophy is the Media/Public Relations Director for the West Michigan Hawks.

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CTA 5k raises funds for Wounded Warriors


S-CTA-5K2Creative Technologies Academy’s newest after school running program, Girls Charging Ahead, which encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running, held its first 5k on Monday, May 18.

The team consisted of over 20 girls from grades 2nd-6th, many high school volunteers, and the two head coaches, Samantha Liscombe and Amy VanHarten. In connection with the celebration 5k, the girls on the team chose to take pledges to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Foundation, as their team service project. The group raised a total of $1,003.35 for the foundation.

The 5k was held on the portion of the White Pine trail just North of Pine St. There was a huge turnout that consisted of many CTA staff and students as well as family members of the girls on the team.

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West Michigan Hawks profile: David Lange


S-West-Michigan-Hawk-David-Lange-in-his-MRAPBy Shae Brophy

Meet the owner and head coach of the West Michigan Hawks, David Lange. Lange has spent the majority of his life in Cedar Springs, graduating from Cedar Springs High School in 2007. He knew that when the idea of the Hawks came together, Cedar Springs was the only place he wanted to call home for the Hawks.

“When I decided to start this franchise, I knew for a fact that Cedar Springs would be the perfect place,” said Lange. “The love for football in this city is outstanding! The thing that makes me most proud about this city is the amount of support shown by the community.”

Coach Lange has already started the process of creating bonds with the city, as well. The Hawks have been very active in community projects, despite the fact that they have not been around for more than a few months. “It is a requirement to give back to the community if you want to wear the Hawks jersey,” Lange explained. “We have helped with the cleanup along the White Pine Trail, as well as picking up trash along the highway. Our next goal is to help a child who is fighting cancer. Ideally, we would like to raise funds to be able to help with hospital expenses.”

Lange knows a thing or two about giving back. Lange is a veteran of the United States Army, having joined the National Guard in 2007 right out of high school as a 19 Delta Cavalry Scout. In 2009, he decided to transfer to active duty, and was stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While on active duty, he also served a 12-month deployment in Basra, Iraq. “My biggest takeaway from my time in the Army was how important teamwork is. Every mission that was carried out was a team effort. I relied on my teammates as they relied on me to keep one another safe, and to play my role in the mission to be successful. I use these same techniques from the Army and apply them to this football team, in order to build teamwork and trust. Without teamwork and trust, you can never be a successful team.”

When preparing the team for a game, Coach Lange says that there are quite a few advantages of being a first year team. “Nobody really knows what a first year team will be bringing to the table, which makes us very difficult to prepare for. Our guys are really coming together and starting to gel as a team.” Preparation is another one of Lange’s strong points, as you could guess because of who his main idol in life is. “My role model would have to be (UFC fighter) Georges St. Pierre. He is without a doubt a true champion, and a great role model both in the cage, and in life. He strives for excellence, while remaining humble at all times. Nothing but class.”

Every home game for the Hawks this season will be on a Saturday evening, and the West Michigan Hawks would like for you to come out and watch their games! Added Coach Lange, “Our fans are just as much a part of the team as our players. We strive to make our games family friendly, and a fun environment! What better way to spend a Saturday evening than under the lights at a football game!”

The Hawks have completed the non-conference portion of their schedule. They will open the conference portion of their schedule on May 30, against the Battle Creek Coyotes. The game will be played at Harper Creek High School, in Battle Creek, and will begin at 7 p.m. As always, you are encouraged to make the trip with the team to watch West Michigan semi-pro football at its finest!

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Red Hawk boys track takes second at regionals


The Cedar Springs boys track team finished second to Grand Rapids Christian at the Houseman Field regional meet last Friday, May 15. Qualifying for the MHSAA State Finals were: Remington Sawade in the pole vault, MavRick Cotten in the long jump and 110m hurdles, and Austin Sargent in the 1600m and 3200m runs. The state finals will be held on May 30, at Zeeland High School.

Other athletes earning valuable points in the meet were: Jaron Spencer in the discus; Caden Burrows in the shot put and discus; Mike VanAssen in the pole vault; Taylor VanDyke and Nikc Jackson in the high jump; Justin Jones in the 800m run; Alex Douglas in the 110m hurdles; the 400m relay team of Lane Gott, Austin Basso, John Todd and Cotten; and the 4x400m relay team of Sargent, Sawade, Todd and Jones.

The team will move on to the Pioneer and Daily News Invitationals before the individuals conclude their season at the state finals.

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Boys track OK Bronze champions

The Red Hawk boys track team won the OK Bronze Championship last Friday. Courtesy photo.

The Red Hawk boys track team won the OK Bronze Championship last Friday. Courtesy photo.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks boys track and field team took home the 2015 OK Bronze Conference Championship last week. After securing a number one seed during the dual season by going 5-0, the Hawks defeated the league last Friday at Forest Hills Northern. Final scoring was: Cedar Springs 130.50, Greenville 105.50, FHN 80.75, FHE 80.25, Northview 76 and Wyoming 50. This is their fifth conference title since 2000.

Leading the way for the Hawks was senior Austin Sargent, with a first in the 1600m, 800m, and 3200m runs, and he anchored the winning 4x800m relay team. The other three members of the relay team included senior Justin Jones and juniors Remington Sawade and Brandon Harthorn. Senior MavRick Cotten won both hurdle events, while Sawade was champion in the pole vault.

Earning All-Conference were: Sargent, Cotten, Jones, Sawade, Harthorn and sophomore hurdler Alex Douglas.

Other teammates that captured necessary points were Caden Burrows and Jaron Spencer in the shot put; Mike VanAssen and Brandon Sawade in the pole vault; Nikc Jackson and Taylor VanDyke in the high jump; Dallas Mora in the 3200m run; Jones in the 800m run; Cotten in the long jump; Douglas in both hurdle events; the 4x200m relay team of Jacob Hooker, Paul Mead, Lane Gott and John Todd; the 4x100m relay team of Gott, Austin Basso, Todd and Cotton; and the 4x400m relay team of Gott, Todd, R. Sawade and Jones.

“We struggled out of the gate in the field events. That is typically an area that we are strong at,” commented Coach Jeff Myers. “We didn’t earn the places and points that we expected. Yet, we didn’t panic, and got after it in the hurdles, relays and distance events. Many athletes set personal bests in 14 of the 17 events. All four relays ran their best times of the year.That’s what we focus on here, ‘What can we do to better the team?’ We don’t worry about what the competition is trying to do,” he added.

This week, the Hawks host the JV Conference meet before heading to GR Houseman Field and competing at the MHSAA regional meet.

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Girls 1600 meter relay races to conference win


Varsity Girls Track has had a busy two weeks. They had a close loss to Greenville on Monday, April 27, 71 to 67. Kenzie Weiler lowered her school record in the 800 to 2:17 at the meet and set Yellow Jacket Stadium records in the 800 and 3200 meter runs.

On Saturday, May 2, the team hosted the Red Hawk Team Invite and competed against some of the best teams in Division 1 in the OK Conference. Rockford won with Kenowa Hills in second. Kenzie Weiler lowered her school record in the 1600 meter run to 4:55.69 and set a new meet record and a new Red Hawk Stadium Record. Tara Tepin placed in both hurdles events and Allyson Marvel was fourth in the pole vault.

In the final OK Bronze dual meets of the year, on Monday, May 4, the team defeated Northview and lost to Forest Hills Eastern. Kenzie Weiler, Tara Tepin and Allyson help lead the team, combining for nine first place finishes. The team’s final dual meet record is 4 and 3.

On Friday, May 8, the team competed in the OK Bronze Conference meet at Forest Hills Northern. The team scored 83 points to take fourth in the meet and finished in fourth place overall in the League. Kenzie Weiler earned three conference championships by winning the 1600 and 3200 meter runs, and as a part of the wining 1600 meter relay team. In the most exciting and last race of the night, the 1600 meter relay team of Mackenzie Rudd, Hannah Heintzelman, Mackenzie Weiler and Tara Tepin came from more than 30 meters behind, in the last half of the race, which was capped off by a mad dash down the final 100 meters by Tara Tepin, to catch the Forest Hills Eastern team and win the race. Earning all-conference honors was Kenzie Weiler, Tara Tepin, Hannah Heintzelman, Mackenzie Rudd and Ellie Ovokaitys.

Placers in the Conference meet:

Second: Tara Tepin 100 and 300 hurdles

Third: Allyson Marvel Pole Vault, 400 meter relay team of Kaley Louck, Tara Tepin, Faith Peacock, and Mathilda Stocke and the 3200 meter relay team Mackenzie Rudd, Hannah Heintzelman, Mackenzie Weiler and Ellie Ovokaitys.

Fourth: Ellie Ovokaitys in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs, Hannah Heintzelman 800 meter run and 800 meter relay team of Kaley Louck, Jenna Zoerman, Faith Peacock, and Mathilda Stocke

Fifth: Allyson Marvel 100 meter hurdles

Sixth: Allyson Marvel 300 meter hurdles

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Red Hawks move to 2-0 in conference action


The boys track and field team went on the road and handed a tough Forest Hills Northern squad a 73-64 defeat.

“We knew coming into their home place, we had to open up and put up big performances in the field events,” said Coach Jeff Myers. “Our boys responded to the challenge. Not only did we accomplish what we needed in the field events, our depth in the distance and hurdles helped us to victory. We also found ways to earn points in the open sprint events,” he added.

Winning events for the Hawks were: MavRick Cotten in the 100m dash, 110m and 300m hurdles and long jump; Austin Sargent in the 800m and 1600m runs; Taylor VanDyke in a league leading 6-foot jump in the high jump; Remington Sawade in the pole vault, and Caden Burrows in the shot put and discus.

Gaining much needed valuable points was John Todd (second in the long jump, 100m dash and third in the 200m dash); Sargent and Sawade in the 400m dash; Alex Douglas (third in the 110m and 300m hurdles); Nikc Jackson (third in the high jump); Todd and Jacob Hooker (second and third in long jump); and Jaron Spencer (second in the shot put and third in the discus).

“We faced a big challenge tonight. We gave up 20 points in the relays. However, we can fix things to make them quicker,” stated Myers.

Last Saturday, the Hawks visited the 12-team Warrior Invitational at Chippewa Hills HS. The boys faced chilly conditions and wind, yet persevered to finish third. Winning events were Cotten in the 110m hurdles; Sargent in the 800m and 1600m runs; and Sawade in the pole vault.

Earning medals were Mike VanAssen in the pole vault; the 4x400m relay team of Lane Gott, Sargent, Sawade and Todd; Cotten in the long jump, VanDyke and Todd in the high jump; Spencer in the shot put and discus; and Sawade in the 400m dash.

The boys continue OK Bronze Conference action on Monday as they head to Greenville before concluding the week with the annual Red Hawk Invitational.

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Lady Red Hawks Tepin, Weiler, Marvel take firsts in track


The Red Hawk Varsity girls track traveled to Forest Hills Northern On April 21, and lost by a score of 94 to 41, to even their OK Bronze record to 1 and 1 and overall record is now 3 and 1.

Tara Tepin and Kenzie Weiler took two individual first places. Tara won the 100 and 300 hurdles, and Kenzie won the 1600 and 800 meter runs. Allyson Marvel earned the other first place in the pole vault.

In 2nd place was Allyson Marvel 100 hurdles; Mackenzie Rugg 400 meter dash; Ellie Ovokaitys 3200 meter run; and Kaley Louck 100 meter dash.

In 3rd place was Allie Colley Shot put and Discus; Allyson Marvel 300 hurdles; and Hannah Heintzelman 800 meter dash.

On Saturday, April 25, the team traveled to Chippewa Hills, for the Warrior invite. The team scored 86 points and placed 5th in the big school division. Tara Tepin earned two first place finishes in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles. Tara also anchored the winning 1600 meter relay team with her teammates Kaley Louck, Hannah Heintzelman and Mackenzie Rugg.

In 2nd place was Allyson Marvel Pole Vault and the 400 meter relay team of Kaley Louck, Tara Tepin, Jenna Zoeman and Mathilda Stocke.

In 3rd place was Hannah Heintzelman 800 meter run, and Allyson Marvel 100 meter hurdles.

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