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Tag Archive | "cross country"

Father-Daughter coaching duo makes Cedar Springs history


Both boys and girls cross country regional champs

Coach Ted Sabinas, his daughter Jen (Sabinas) Kahler (Girls Cross Country Coach).

By Sue Wolfe

Boys Cross Country Coach Ted Sabinas, his daughter Jen (Sabinas) Kahler (Girls Cross Country Coach) and their teams have been setting Cedar Springs school records all season. However, this year’s teams are definitely earning elite status that may never be surpassed.
Last Saturday, both the girls and boys cross country teams finished first in the Division II Regional Cross Country meets held at Benzie Central High School. Not only did they earn two (boys and girls) regional team titles for Cedar Springs, but they also laid claim to the top two running times from all divisions in the State of Michigan. Kenzie Weiler and Connor Mora each finished with the best current individual times in the state according to athletic.net.
“We have two of the very best cross country runners in Michigan right here in Cedar Springs,” explains Coach Sabinas. “These runners have not only accomplished outstanding personal running feats but have also inspired and challenged the rest of the team knowing that it takes a entire team to win conference, regional, and state competitions.”
Kenzie Weiler, a freshman on the girls team and Connor Mora, a junior, have been posting some of the fastest times in the state all year. The Cedar Springs girls team has sisters Kenzie and Katie Weiler (daughters of Pat and Julie (Myers) Weiler, both outstanding high school and collegiate athletes themselves) finished first and second at regionals with times of 17.13 minutes and 17.57 respectively.
“Our team has worked very hard this year. At the regional meet, all seven runners from both the girls and boys teams achieved personal best times of their career thus far,” said Coach Kahler. The Weiler’s other five running mates had personal best times which include Sommer Vandyke 19:23, Maddie Pekrul (19:32), Michaela Burnett (19:41), Christina Dean (20:04), and Kendahl Oberdorfer (20:22). “It is important that our players stay healthy and reach their peak at this point of the season. They are doing just that,” she noted.
Part of the teams’ success is the great rapport between the athletes and their coaches. “We respect and admire the blend of coaching our team has received this year from both Coach Sabinas and Coach Kahler. They brought different elements into our practices and meets at different times during the season. As shown in the team’s success, it has been the perfect combination of coaching styles,” said both Katie and Kenzie Weiler.
For the first time ever in Cedar Springs High School history, the girls team has been ranked first in the state. They have been bouncing back and forth among the top five all season. The team won both the conference and regional meets and is ready for the state meet scheduled for this Saturday, November 5 at MIS Speed Way in Brooklyn, Michigan starting at 1:30 for the girls and 2:30 for the boys.
Coach Kahler had to miss only a few weeks of the season, giving birth to her and her husband Bryan’s first child, Lela. She and her father worked together to keep the team with a well-planned schedule during Kahler’s short absence. This is Kahler’s 9th  season as the varsity girls coach, during which the team holds three consecutive conference and regional titles, along with a 6th place team finish at the state level in 2010, a school record for the women’s team.
When Coach Kahler was asked how she can continually bring the best out of her runners both physically and mentally she explains, “The girls and I believe strongly in the sense of team and the work that they put in day in and day out for each other helps strengthen each individual’s running performance.”
Sabinas had high praise for his daughter. “Jen is highly respected among the running class of athletes and coaches throughout the state for her knowledge and abilities. In just 9 years, she has already accomplished many of the goals I set for my teams in a 27-year span,” explained Sabinas. “She is doing an amazing job with the many facets of coaching necessary to achieve conference, regional, and state level success.”
Veteran Coach Sabinas is in his 27th year as varsity men’s coach. He too holds school and state records for his cross-country teams. Sabinas’s teams highest honor is runner up at the state meet in 1990. Other significant accomplishments include over 160 dual meet wins, 3 conference titles, 3 regional titles, and 10 teams placing in state meets.
“Conner Mora has consistently been an outstanding runner. He finished 2nd at the 2010 state finals and continued to improve his times this year. He improved through hard work and tremendous dedication. However, Connor would be quick to point out that our team’s success is just that—team success and not individual success. His six regional teammates all achieved personal best times with Aaron Brooks (16:06), Justin Harthorn (16:26), Alex Bray (16:32), Austin Sargent (16:32), Ethan Menefee (16:48), and Dan Zinn (17:27) stepping up to secure the championship,” said Sabinas.
“Coach Sabinas understands us really well,” commented Mora. “He knew what type of training we needed to take our team to the state level. We are now ready and excited for next week.”
Autumn Mattson, CSHS Athletic Director, urged fans to support the teams. “This is a year when the Cedar Springs Community will want to get out and cheer for their two cross country teams as we have some of the finest ever Red Hawk runners competing,” she said. “This is a pretty unique moment for our school and community having two teams qualify for state during the same season and to have the best male and female runner in the state on our teams. This is all happening under the leadership of a father-daughter cooperative coaching effort,” she remarked.

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CTA girls cross country take 2nd at state


Boys finish 13th out of 40; two runners earn all-state honors

The CTA girls cross country team took second place in Class “D” Cross Country Coaches Association Championships last Saturday. Standing (L to R): Coach Aaron Kenemer, Dani George, Esther Hubbard, Olivia Wortz, Grace VanEnk, Alicia Beck, Mikayla Tomandl, Hannah Hubbard, Coach Gerry Verwey. Kneeling (L to R): Michaela Smith, Erin Munger.

Going into Saturday’s Class “D” Cross Country Coaches Association Championships, the cross country teams at Creative Technologies Academy had one goal in mind: a top-10 finish. The Lady Chargers stepped onto Maple Creek Golf Course in Shepherd, Michigan and blew that goal away, earning an exciting runner-up trophy in a race that featured 34 schools. CTA’s previous highest place at the state championships was a 12th place finish last year. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart took home the first place title in both the girls and boys events.
CTA’s coaches attributed this year’s success to a dedicated group of runners who understood the importance of running as a team. “The key to our success was pack running,” commented head coach Gerry Verwey. “About half-way through the season we were able to get our 2nd-5th runners to link up and start training and racing as a group.  Not only did this improve the quality of our practices, but our times as a whole began dropping, and our team scores at meets began improving as a result.”
It wasn’t just the pack of Chargers that made the difference. Sophomore Erin Munger continued to lead CTA, as she has all season, with a new personal record of 20:09, breaking her previous school record mark. Her fifth place finish earned her “All-State” honors and was significant to outdistancing CTA from the third through fifth place teams.  Alicia Beck (22:25), Grace VanEnk (22:30), Michaela Smith (22:41), and Hannah Hubbard (22:42) rounded out the scoring for the Chargers.  Also turning in solid runs were Dani George and Mikayla Tomandl.  “Dani and Mikayla were aware at the start that any chances of placing well might come down to our 6th and 7th runners.  They brought their best races ever to help secure our trophy,” added Verwey.
How well they placed surprised even Verwey. “This was an awesome day for CTA.  I have to admit that I didn’t believe the girls when they first told me the team scores. I knew we ran well, but the thought of winning a trophy at State hadn’t ever crossed my mind. We had two goals left this season: winning a trophy and a top-ten placing at State. I didn’t expect us to achieve both at the same time,” he explained.
The performance of a boys team that placed 13th out of 40 schools should not go over looked either. Sophomore Aaron Nutt smashed the school record, leading the team with a time of 17:36, and placing high enough to earn “All-State” honors.  Jeremiah Wortz (18:34), Benett Tomandl (18:56), Steve VanEnk (19:17), and Venus Ceballos (20:37) all stepped up at a time when the Chargers needed them most. “The boys ran their hearts out,” according to assistant coach Aaron Kenemer.  “They knew what needed to be done and left it all on the course.  It was great to see the aggressiveness, especially in the last mile of the race.”
Verwey is happy with the results of both teams. “We as coaches are so incredibly proud of both the girls and boys teams.  They’ve been working hard since August and learned that good things don’t come easily, but when they do, it’s worth the work!”
CTA will conclude its season at the Michigan Independent High School Championships in Allendale next Saturday, October 29.

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Cross Country Coach Completes 20 years of Daily 5K Runs


By Sue Wolfe

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas, a 34-year Cedar Springs resident, teacher, and cross country coach, recently completed his 20th year of running 3.1 miles every single day. Twenty years calculates out to 240 months, 1040 weeks and 7,300 days, which involved outdoor conditions of extreme heat, snow blizzards, rainstorms, and high winds. Sabinas weathered them all while also teaching, coaching, parenting, grandparenting, and spending time with his wife and friends. He mustered up the time and determination to run a 5K each and every day while many people would be thrilled to just run one 5K in their lifetime.
This daunting goal starting in 1990 when Sabinas decided he would try to achieve running a total of 1,200 miles or 100 miles per month. As of December 8, Sabinas exceeded his original goal and now traveled 22,630 miles. This is further than running from Key West, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska and back (10,340 miles) two times!
When asked how he could run during illnesses, injuries, inclement weather, and time restraints, Sabinas said, “It was a case of mind over matter. I also believe this allows me to be a better cross-country coach. By actually running myself, I can relate to the mental and physical challenges that my runners are facing and implement some strategies and techniques that are helpful. ”
Sabinas also explained, “My father passed away at age 52 from a heart attack. I want to stay active and healthy. At age 58, I feel I can still do most everything I did at 28.” Injuries and incidents have not evaded Sabinas’s running adventures over the past twenty years. He has dealt with pulled muscles, flu, back pain, and colds. He has been chased by a Doberman and had a pigeon fly just overhead with him for almost a mile. While Sabinas’s usual route is down Pine Lake Avenue, he has also run in the summer heat of Puerto Rico and Mexico, the hills of West Virginia, bear country in the Upper Peninsula, and even the deck of a cruise ship. Sabinas was one of two Cedar Springs residents that ran the entire Michigan Coast-to-Coast Run in the late 80s as a fund-raiser for a new Cedar Springs High School track.
When asked what his next goal is, Sabinas replied, “I don’t have a specific number of years or miles in mind but hope to keep running as long as my body will allow me to.”
Sabinas has successfully coached the boy’s cross-country team for 26 years. He has educated his runners in the benefits of running for overall health physically and mentally. He has inspired his runners to be the best they can be, evidenced by his teams’ records of several conference and regional championships, 50-plus invitational wins, and 8 teams that qualified for state. His team’s highest state finish includes a 2nd in 1990 as well as a 5th and 9th place. Coach Sabinas’s cross-country win/loss record for dual meets is 165/46.  Sabinas has coached one All-American (Landon Peacock) and 15-plus All-State runners during his cross-country stay.
Sabinas shares the joy and commitment of consistently exercising with his wife Dianne who recently completed 18 years of consecutively walking 1.5 miles per day. His daughter Jennifer is the CSHS girl’s cross-country coach, has run in the River Bank Run, a marathon, and a triathlon. His daughter Sarah is an accomplished collegiate volleyball player and previously a middle school and high school volleyball coach.

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Cedar Springs and Tri County Cross teams


The Cedar Springs Red Hawks and Howard City-Tri County Vikings Cross Country teams pose for a team photo while waiting for a police escort to take them to Red Hawk Stadium, August 27. The two teams ran the White Pine Trail together to take the game ball from Howard City to Cedar Springs for the first football game of the season.

Cedar Springs Red Hawks and Tri County Vikings Cross country teams. Photo by S. Harthorn.

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Girls cross-country regional champs


(left to right): Madi Phelps, Rieley Hondalus, Mandy Mann, Katie Weiler, Amanda Balzcak, Sirena Johnson, Lindsey Klien, Breeann Ovokaitys, Jessica Titus, Sommer VanDyke, Kayla Ovokaitys.

(left to right): Madi Phelps, Rieley Hondalus, Mandy Mann, Katie Weiler, Amanda Balzcak, Sirena Johnson, Lindsey Klien, Breeann Ovokaitys, Jessica Titus, Sommer VanDyke, Kayla Ovokaitys.

Obstacles did not take the Cedar Springs girl’s cross-country team off course for a Regional Division 2 Championship on Saturday, October 31 in Benzonia, Michigan. In an effort to eat, sleep, and prepare mentally prior to the race, the team traveled to Beulah and stayed at the Best Western Hotel. However, shortly after their arrival, power was lost for seven hours of their stay. The next morning, high winds, cold temperatures and rain saturated the course and presented challenging weather conditions for their 3.1-mile race. The mighty Red Hawks rose to the occasion to secure a first place finish earning 54 points among 15 competing teams throughout the region.

After finishing first in the Conference the prior week, this year’s Regional Championship, is the first time since 2000 the team has qualified for state as a team. From approximately 90 athletes, Breeann Ovokaitys finished first overall and led her team with a time of 19:10.  Two other teammates finished in the top 15 overall runners—freshman Katie Weiler, who came in second with a time of 19:27, and Amanda Balczak, who finished 8th with a time of 20:13. Other contributing members of the team included Sommer Vandyke (20:49-21st) and Jessica Titus (20:51-22nd).

When Breeann was asked what it takes to finish first in a race of this magnitude she replied, “Dedication and motivation. It takes year-round training and simply putting in the off-season miles. We have a great coach and teammates who make the training both enjoyable and worthwhile.” Ovakaitys was the 2008-09 Red Flannel Queen, and is on the board for the National Honor Society and Student Activities Council. She is active with her church praise team and plays the violin for school plays. She plans to be part of the CSHS track team this spring and then go on to college in the fall.

Coach Kahler was pleased with her team. “All the girls put their heart into this race and persevered in an effort to represent Cedar Springs at a state level,” she said. “Our goal now is to finish in the top 10 for Michigan. We were previously ranked 8th and look forward to a strong finish for the season,” she continued.

A faithful group of parents, grandparents, and community members braved the elements in support of the team. “It takes an outstanding coach to bring everything together to win a district and regional championship. Coach Kahler has certainly done that. We have some great student-athletes and family support as well,” commented Doran Myers, grandparent of runner Katie Weiler.

Coach Kahler works in cooperation with the men’s cross-country team coach, who is also her father, Ted Sabinas. The state meet will be this Saturday, November 7 at the MIS Speedway in Brooklyn, near Jackson. The girl’s race begins at 1:30 and the boy’s race at 2:30. Cedar Spring’s runner Connor Mora, who finished second overall in the boy’s Division II race at Benzie Central High School, will be the only Cedar Springs male runner advancing to state finals.

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Emmorey named GLIAC runner of the year


S-Tyler-Emmorey-headshotGrand Valley State sophomore Tyler Emmorey, of Cedar Springs, was recently named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s cross country runner of the year, after winning the 8K league championship in 24:38 and leading the Lakers to their eighth consecutive team title. He earned a second-place finish at the Michigan Intercollegiates in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Oct. 9 with a time of 25:09.

Emmorey, a 2007 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, also received the honor of being named NCAA Cross-Country All-American in November 2008. He is the son of Nace and Michelle Emmorey, of Cedar Springs.

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Chargers find success at Big Red invite


S-CTA-cross-countryThe Creative Technologies Academy cross-country team competed in the Muskegon Big Red Invite at McGraft Park this past Saturday.  Perfect weather and a fast course helped push the Chargers to some new personal best marks.

The boys team placed 7th, edging out Ravenna by two points. Kyle Biddlecome earned medal honors with a time of 19:33.  CJ Bouck continued a strong senior season with a solid finish as well.  Also scoring for the Chargers were Jeff Spicer, Jeremiah Wortz, and Andre Winters.

The Lady Chargers had two individuals earn medals. Senior Erin Willis set another new school-best time of 22:42, earning 18th place.  Sister Ashton Willis ran a personal best time of 23:45, finding a 30th place finish.  Grace VanEnk rounded out the scoring for CTA in the 40th position.

“It was an extremely successful day for us Saturday,” commented Coach Verwey. “We had numerous personal best times, earned three medals, and were even complimented for our enthusiasm, hard work, and sportsmanship by some of the other teams. The coaches are very satisfied with the outcome.”

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CTA cross country makes strides


The Creative Technology Academy cross country team competed in two challenging meets this past week. On Saturday, August 29, the team traveled up to Benzie Central High School to participate in the “Eldon Moss Cross Country Invitational” and on Wednesday, September 2, the Kent City Coed 10k Relay Invite.

SCTAcrosscountry1“This was an intense week of cross country for the team,” said Coach Gerry Verwey.  “Saturday’s meet featured 17 schools, many of whom were state championship contenders.  Wednesday’s meet pitted us against six other schools much larger than our own, including some division one competition.”

At the Benzie Central Invitational, freshman Grace VanEnk broke the girl’s school record in a time of 23:57, only to have senior Erin Willis break that mark, the following Wednesday, at Kent City with a time of 23:48. The Charger girls team features a dynamic top three with VanEnk, Willis, and twin Ashton Willis, that any new program would dream to have. Along with freshman Esther Hubbard and senior Cassie Dille, the Lady Chargers are looking to really turn some heads this season. “The girls have really come together as a team after the Benzie meet and have set their sights on some big teams and big goals,” added Coach Verwey.

-S-CTAThe girls finished 9th at the Benzie Invite with 224 points, one point behind Lake City.

The boy’s squad also found success at Benzie. All seven of the runners ran new personal best times, with the top four all within 13 seconds of each other. They placed 10th out of 18 teams competing. The boys were lead by strong performances from junior Kyle Biddlecome and senior CJ Bouck.  “Kyle and CJ are looking the strongest I’ve ever seen them, noted Verwey. “They are definitely showing that they will not back down during a race.”

CTA’s upcoming competitions include the Big Red Invite at Muskegon on September 12 and a meet at Tri County on September 15.

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