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Lowell dodges EGR’s upset bid, Red Arrows win 42-39 in four overtimes

 

Two of the best football programs in the state of Michigan added a classic for their history books Friday night at Memorial Field in East Grand Rapids as Lowell, the number one team in Division 2, survived a four overtime thriller against the Pioneers, 42-39.
“It was an unbelievable game, ” emphasized EGR football coach Peter Stuursma. “Our kids battled their tails off on both sides of the ball. This is what a rivalry is, mark that down.”
While it may be remembered as a classic, Lowell Red Arrow football coach Noel Dean was not ready to call it a typical Lowell/EGR football game at Memorial Field. “It wasn’t a typical game played here, because we won,” Dean quipped as he left Memorial Field following a game-winning, 10-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Shurlow to Kyle Blough on first down of its fourth possession in overtime.
The score followed the Red Arrows’ defense stopping the Pioneers on four consecutive pass plays from the 10 yard line.
“It wasn’t easy. It took a full team effort,” Shurlow concurred. “East ran an awesome defense scheme against us tonight. Our final score was one of our favorite go-to plays.”
The Pioneer defense kept the high-powered Lowell offense under wraps in regulation with the exception of two plays.
Shurlow broke through a Pioneer defense, on the first playoff the game, for a 94-yard touchdown run.
Then, trailing 19-15 and facing a fourth-and-six from the its own 24 yard line, Shurlow found Ben Bigham on a sideline route. The senior receiver, skipped past a defender and raced 76-yards for a go-ahead score (22-19).
However, the score left three minutes for the Pioneer senior backup quarterback Peter Stewart. It was more than enough time. Stewart connected on throws of 13 and 22 yards, taking the ball down to the Lowell 15. Three plays later on a third and 16 from the Lowell 21, Stewart found Jack Faulkner at the six yard line, setting up a game-tying 24-yard field from Noah Salasky with 54 seconds to play.
“Peter is the most capable quarterback a coach could ask for to replace your starter. He’s a senior, athletic and a leader. Tonight he made plays,” Stuursma said.
Both clubs missed field goal attempts in the opening overtime. Lowell from 25 yards and East from 32 yards.
The Pionners took a short-lived lead in the second overtime when Steward found Tre’Shown Fields in the end zone on a first-and-10 from the Red Arrow 10 yard line. Lowell tied it at 29-29 moments later on a seven-yard burst from Kanon Dean.
Lowell grabbed the lead back in the third overtime on a pass-and-catch from Shurlow to Bigham. East answered with a six-yard, scoring pass from Stewart to Drew Hollerbach.
Lowell’s offense never seemed fully in sync against the Pioneers, while its defense struggled to slow down Stewart and company’s air attack.
“I don’t think it’s anything we did or didn’t do. I think East had a lot to do with it. That’a good football program and a team that grew up tonight. Add to it that Peter (Stuursma) had one full week to work to get ready for us,” Dean explained.
Lowell’s two other scores in the first half came on a safety and a 31-yard touchdown from Shurlow to Bigham with 2:13 left to play in the half.
East’s only touchdown came at the 6:17 mark of the first quarter when Stewart found Fields for 45 yards and a score.
The Pioneers, trailing 15-6 at halftime, opened the third quarter with a 67-yard scoring drive capped off by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Steward to Fields.
East took its first lead (19-15) of the game on a three-yard run by David Evans Jr. The two-point conversion was no good.
The win improved Lowell to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the O-K White, qualifying the Red Arrows for the post-season playoff.
East is now 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the league..
“You always ask for a chance to win the game and we had that chance,” East Grand Rapids coach Peter Stuursma said. “I’m proud of our kids. We kept battling.”
Katie McIntosh, a kindergarden teacher at East’s Lakeside Elementary, is a breast cancer survivor and the sister of EGR football coach Peter Stuursma.
The East student body wore pink Friday night at its homecoming in honor of McIntosh. Lowell responded in support as its visiting bleachers were a sea of pink.
“It’s special that the kids wanted to do it,” an emotional Stuursma said. “It was a class act by our students and the same for Lowell’s students.”

 

 

Lowell charges past FHC 48-7

Not sure of his club’s physche following a big win over Muskegon the previous week, Lowell football coach Noel Dean tested it early Friday night at Forest Hills Central.
He liked the response.
Lowell, in its first possession of the game was at risk of going three plays and a punt, instead Dean chose to to go for it on fourth and two. The Red Arrows picked up the needed yards and then proceeded to complete a 12-play, 83-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. Tyler Shurlow completed the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
It was the first of six first-half touchdown as Lowell raced to a 42-0 halftime en route to posting a 48-7 win. With the victory Lowell improved its record to 5-0. The Red Arrows will travel to East Grand Rapids on Friday.
Lowell increased its lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter when Jake Stephens returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown.
Lowell recorded four second-quarter touchdowns on a 21-yard pass from Shurlow to Josh Bearup; a nine-yard scoring pass to Josh Branagan and a three-yard run by Shurlow.
Lowell’s final score of the half came on a 17-yard pass-and-catch from Shurlow to Ben Bigham.
Ben Bigham capped the Red Arrow scoring with a 74-run by Bigham in the fourth quarter.

 

 

Determined offensive play, defensive swagger pace Lowell to win over No.1 Muskegon, 31-20

Dylan Brower brought the swagger and Lowell, ranked third,  was as good as it was determined in posting an impressive 31-20 win over Muskegon, the number one ranked football team in Division 2.

“Muskegon is one of the biggest games on our schedule. They are a  really good football team . This one meant a lot and we wanted it (a victory),” Brower explained afterwards. The senior running back/linebacker ran for 69 yards and was a key piece in the Red Arrows’ defensive effort in containing an explosive Big Reds offense.

“It’s nice to have Dylan back. He was out last year with a broken leg. Dylan brings a defensive swagger to our running game,” said Lowell football coach Noel Dean.

That swagger is one of power and deceptive speed (faster than he appears). “You could say that,” Brower said with a concurring grin.

Brower and his defensive mates held Muskegon to 88 yards rushing. More importantly, the Red Arrow defense took the burners out of the Muskegon jet sweep. The Big Reds explosive backs were never able to turn the corner and go vertical for any distance against Lowell.

Lowell’s play on offense was determined and nearly flawless in execution. Senior quarterback Kyler Shurlow ran for 105 yards, threw for 125 and and scored three touchdowns.

“We have something special here. He made reads and his decision making was good,” Dean said. “This senior class is also special  – 15 of them are in the top 50 of their class. It’s an intelligent group and one I’ve been around since they were in  elementary school.  I’ve been around them from Tonka Toys to playing varsity football. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve enjoyed the character they’ve displayed and the way they go about things.”

The loss marked the fourth consecutive week ( Grand Rapids Christian, Grand Haven, Rockford) and now Lowell that the Big Reds have faced strong football programs.

“They’ve had a lot of big moments in big games with this schedule,” said Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield. “Now they will get the breather they need.”

Lowell took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards as Kanon Dean capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run, giving the Red Arrows a 6-0 lead following a missed extra point.

Muskegon answered moments later when DeShaun Thrower found Justin Foster over the middle for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Trailing 7-6, Lowell took four  minutes off the clock as Shurlow led the Red Arrows 75 yards. He completed the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Josh Branagan.

After a Big Reds fumble at their own 29 on their next possession, Lowell took eight plays with Shurlow busting into the end zone from the one yard out, extending Lowell’s lead to 20-7.

John Hall pulled Muskegon to with six (20-14) with a 15-yard touchdown run to open the second half.

Lowell stemmed the tide as it answer with a 65-yard touchdown drive. Shurlow scored from the three yard line making it 28-14 with a two-point conversion pass to Grant Peterson.

The Red Arrows added a 33 yard field goal by Austin Bieri in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 17 at 31-14.

Muskegon’s final score of the night came from its defense when William Hunt picked up a fumble and raced into the end zone from 29 yards out.

“This is just one game. We’re one game closer to hosting a playoff game,” Dean concluded.

 

St. Johns dominant wrestling run continues with 42-20 Division II championship win over Lowell

Tom Lehman, a member of the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, saw his share of outstanding wrestling teams in his 37 years as coach at Middleville Thornaopple-Kellogg.

One of those may very well have been his 1996 state championship Trojan squad, however, the former Middleville coach doesn’t remember seeing one as dominant as St. Johns.

“There have been a number of great teams, but we’ve never seen a team be so dominant for as long (four years) as St. John’s has been,” Lehman said.

The Redwings supported Lehman’s comment, by capturing a fourth-consecutive Division II state title, Saturday at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek with a 42-20 shellacking of Lowell.

“It means a lot to rebound from last year (graduation losses) It’s a relief to be able to keep things going. A couple of quick pins early got us rolling,” said St. Johns’ wrestling coach Derek Phillips. “That helps make things easier for the other guys.”

Redwings Jason Schmidt (130) and Logan Massa (135) logged back-to back pins in less than a combined minute of mat time to stake St. Johns to a 12-0 lead.

Lowell’s Jordan Hall briefly stopped the bleeding with an 8-7 decision against Redwing Mark Bozzo. The Redwing force of five that followed were too strong and too good good. Ben Whitford (145) and Drew Wixson (152) of their Red Arrow counterparts, expanding St. Johns’ lead to 24-3.

Josh Pennel then recorded a 5-0 decision, pushing the score to 27-3.

It ballooned to 31-3 when former Lowell wrestler, Angus Arther dominated Kanon Dean at 171 pounds, with an 18-5 major decision. Arthur, who was booed by some Lowell fans prior to the match, taunted them following his victory. The display cost his team a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“This rivalry is personal for half of their wrestlers and  the other half wrestle with class which is what it should be. It always seems like a carnival, but it is what it is.” said Lowell wrestling coach Dave Dean. “St. Johns got us in a lot of different ways. They are obviously a very talented team that has worked very hard. We showed up to compete, however, and I am very pleased with the way our young team performed. We are building on some good foundation.”

Payne Hayden (189) upped the Lowell deficit to 36-3 with a pin over Pierce watson (2:41) before the Red Arrows found some traction and posted five consecutive victories of their own.

Garett Stehley (215) decisioned Blake Cooper 7-0; Taylor Kornoely (285) defeated Ben Proctor 10-6; Lucas Hall (103) bettered Ian Parker 11-5; Derek Krajewski (112) posted an 11-3 major decision against Derek Droste; and Zeth Dean (119) claimed a13-1 major decision over Dillon Cornell, completing a 17-0 run and cutting the deficit to 36-20.

In the final match of the state championship St. Johns’ Zac Hall pinned Bailey jack in 41 seconds of the first period.

“Our guys are really emotional and passionate about this sport,” Phillips explained. “A team like Lowell brings that out. That’s a program that has long tradition of good wrestling.”

The first-year coach has studied his history. Lowell has been in the team wrestling state finals nine of the last 15 years. Three of those visits produced state championships.

The Red Arrows advanced to the state finals with a 31-26 win over Niles. St Johns, meanwhile, punished Allegan 64-6.

In the quarterfinals on Friday night, Lowell upended former O-K White rival, Greenville, 38-25.

 

Red Arrows stung by narrow defeat to Knights

 

The outcome could easily have been different than the 128.45-128.3 loss to Kenowa Hills, but it wasn’t and that is what made the defeat so difficult to take.

“I knew we had a shot. We just made too many mistakes…. 0.15, that is one bent leg, one step on a landing, one jump not high enough, I could go on,” said a disappointed Lowell gymnastics coach, Michelle DeHaan.

The Red Arrows top two exercises were on the vault and floor.

Displaying the focus and mental courage to move past an injury incurred by Morgan Taylor, Lowell still managed to piece together a strong overall performance on the vault.

Lauren DeHaan led the way with an 8.65 followed by Serena Wilterdink’s 8.45 and Lauren Browning  and Meghan Plutschouw tallied 8.4’s.

Taylor went down with a knee injury on her second vault attempt of the evening.

“The team did do a great job of being able to stay focused for the rest of the meet. I was a little worried they would let Morgan’s injury rattle them,” DeHaan said.

After scoring her first 9.0 on the balance beam a few night earlier, DeHaan broke the 9.0 barrier in her floor exercise.

DeHaan scored a 9.1 to lead Lowell. Kaezi Bladey followed with an 8.6.  Wilterdink scored an 8.45 and Bethany Kaczanowski finishing with an 8.35.

DeHaan also led the Red Arrows on the balance beam with a mark of 8.2. Jorie Bennett and Danielle Krajewski finished with scores of 7.6 and 7.55 respectively. Kaczanowski provided the Red Arrows with their fourth score of 7.4.

On the uneven bars it was Bladey (7.8), Wilterdink (7.3), Plutschouw (7.1) and DeHaan (6.95).

“With six girls from Lowell competing on each event, 24 routines total, the outcome could have easily been different. We just didn’t capitalize on the situation,” DeHaan concluded.

 

 

 

Rockford gymnasts upend Lowell

Lowell gymnastics team suffered a conference loss at Rockford, falling to the Rams 132.975-121.525.

Top Lowell Individual Scores:

Vault

Lauren Browning 8.3

Kaezi Bladey 8.2

Morgan Taylor 8.2

Sarena Wilterdink 8.15

Bars

Bladey 7.075

Meghan Plutschouw 7.0

Browning 6.9

Wilterdink 6.9

Beam

Plutschouw 7.125

Taylor 7.025

Browning 6.675

Wilterdink 6.475

Floor

Bladey 8.75

Wilterdink 8.5

Kaczanowski 8.25

Plutschouw 8.0

Top All Around Scores

Kaezi Bladey 30.325

Sarena Wilterdink 30.025

Kaylee Wold 26.275

 

Lowell grounds Falcons in earning first league win of season

Despite missing contributions from Lauren DeHaan and Meghan Plutschouw, due to the flu, Lowell’s gymnastics team still had plenty plenty of firepower to overtake East Kentwood 127.475-116.175 and earn it s first conference win of the season.

Top all-around honors were awarded to Red Arrow gymnast  Sarena Wilterdink.

Wilterdink scored a team best 8.5 on the vault; 7.725 on the uneven bars; 8.15 on the balance beam; and 8.35 in the floor exercise.

Danielle Krajewski recorded top individual performances on the beam (8.05) and floor exercise (8.3).

Morgan Taylor tallied the Red Arrows top score on the uneven bars with a mark of 6.95.

Vault

Sarena Wilterdink 8.5

Morgan Taylor 8.45

Kaezi Bladey 8.55

Lauren Browning 8.55

Bars

Morgan Taylor 6.95

Bethany Kaczanowski 6.8

Lauren Browning 6.925

Sarena Wilterdink 7.725

Beam

Danielle Krajewski 8.05

Jorie Bennett 7.525

Colleen Cater 7.55

Sarena Wilterdink 8.15

Floor

Danielle Krajewski 8.3

Bethany Kaczanowski 8.45

Sarena Wilterdink 8.35

Kaezi Bladey 8.65

 

Bladey leads strong Arrow performance at Lowell Invite

A plethora of strong performances catapulted the Red Arrows to a third-place finish at the Lowell Gmnastics Invitational.

“I was very pleased with the team’s performance today!  Seeing so many of my gymnasts earn medals was so rewarding,” said Lowell gymnastics coach Michelle DeHaan.

At the top of that list was Kaezi Bladey who finished third overall in the all around and in three of the four events.

Bladey was third overall in the floor exercise with a score of 8.8.

“Kaezi (junior) had a great day overall, she really pulled things together and was strong on all four events.  Her floor score of 8.8 was a personal best.  She has a new floor routine this year and it seems to be suiting her well,” DeHaan explained.

Kaezi Bladey was third overall in ther all around at the Lowell Invitational.

Kaezi Bladey was third overall in ther all around at the Lowell Invitational.

Bladey tallied teem-leading 8.25 on the uneven bars, good enough for seventh overall. Her 8.15 placed her eighth overall on the balance beam. The Red Arrow garnered an 8.5 on the vault placing behind teammate Lauren DeHaan (8.575, eighth overall)) and Lauren Browning (8.55, 10th overall).

DeHaan was second overall on the balance beam with a splendid routine earning her a 9.0. She was fifth in the all around with a 33.475.

“DeHaan is the first gymnast to hit a 9.0 on beam since Kelsey Teft did three years ago!  Some routine requirements changed this year increasing the difficulty expected in bars, beam and floor making this an even bigger accomplishment,” DeHaan said.

Browning and Sarena Wilterdink (freshman) both had good showings.  Both girls worked so hard in their last few years in middle school to help them prepare for high school.  They have both proven already they are definitely girls to watch as they move up the high school ranks,” DeHaan said.

Browning was 11th overall on the bars with a score of 7.55.

Wilterdink, meanwhile, finished ninth overall on the bars, scoring a 7.675; and 11th on the beam with an 8.05.

Top Lowell Individual Scores

Vault

Lauren DeHaan 8.575 – 8th place

Lauren Browning 8.55 – 10 place

Kaezi Bladey 8.5

Sarena Wilterdink 8.45

Bars

Bladey 8.25 – 7th place

Wilterdink 7.675 – 9th place

Browning 7.55 – 11th place

Lauren DeHaan 7.15

Beam

Lauren DeHaan 9.0 – 2nd place

Kaezi Bladey 8.15 – 8th place

Sarena Wilterdink 8.05 – 11th place

Colleen Cater 7.975

placing from the B team on beam was

Danielle Krajewski 8.175 – 7th place

Floor

Kaezi Bladey 8.8 3rd place

DeHaan 8.75 6th place

Bethany Kaczanowski 8.15

Morgan Taylor 8.1

All Around

Bladey 33.7 – 3rd place

DeHaan 33.475 – 5th place

Wilterdink 31.975 – 10th place

Browning 31.55 – 12th place

Teams

Rockford A 140.15

Kenowa Hills/Grandville 132.125

Lowell A 131.475

Adrian 127.575

Tecumseh 120.00

Lowell B 111.575

East Kentwood 103.90

Coldwater 100.25

Rockford B 60.15

 

Strides on uneven bars continue despite loss to FHC

New bars have been raised and changes in the scores are the result.

“The uneven bars has always been our weakest event and this year that is starting to change.  We were able to get a new set of bars over the summer so now we have two sets at practice and it is making a difference,” said gymnastics coach Michelle DeHaan.

The Red Arrow girls are now achieving higher skill levels, attributed to a new set of bars purchased over the summer.

“Having two sets of bars is making a difference,” DeHaan said. “They have more time on the equipment in practice with not having to wait for teammates to finish all the time.”

In Lowell’s 130.95-127.50 loss to Forest Hills Central, the Red Arrows tallied four scores of 7.0 or higher.

Kaezi Bladey continued to keep the top spot on bars.

“Her connections and release move have helped her,” DeHaan said.

Bladey recorded a 7.95 against the Rangers. Teammates Lauren Browning and Sarena Wilterdink each scored a 7.1 while Lauren DeHaan came off the bars with a 7.0.

DeHaan and Morgan Taylor continue to stand out on the balance beam.  DeHaan earned an 8.95 and Taylor finished with a mark of 8.5.

“Last year Morgan couldn’t stay on and this year she’s like a different person – focus and determination that I haven’t seen from her before,” DeHaan said  “She has a backwalkover/frontwalkover combination that she has struggled with that is unique and at the last two meets has nailed it!”

Lauren DeHaan has added difficult turning jumps to her routine.

“As long as she continues to stay on, we are guaranteed a high score for the team for her on that event,” Lowell’s coach adds.

Meghan Plutschouw and Bethany Kaczanowski added scores of 7-6 and 7.45 respectively.

The Red Arrows most balanced scores came on the vault. One-tenth of a point separated four Red Arrows.

Browning penciled in an 8.6 while Colleen Cater, Bladey and Dehaan all posted an 8.5.

The Red Arrow floor routines were led by DeHaan and Bladey with scores of 8.1 and 8.0. Wilterdink and Kaczanowski contributed with marks of 7.85 and 7.75.

 

 

 

 

AAU work notable attribute with Lowell freshmen gymnasts

A four-year hiatus may have given some reason to believe Michelle DeHaan lost interest in Lowell gymnastics.
The Lowell gymnastics coach, while not visible at all high school practices and meets, had her beam-like focus on the Red Arrow future.
“I was working with our younger gymnasts at the lower levels as they competed at the AAU level,” DeHaan explained. “At the AAU level the girls learn everything. They compete in all four disciplines. By competing as an all-around gymnast there is less of a fear factor for any one event when they reach the high school.”
The result is when those gymnasts reach the varsity their skills are as strong as those at the high school level.
DeHaan’s hard work will be on display in 2013, as freshmen Sarena Wilterdink and Lauren Browning, products of the RAYG program, will begin their four-year tenure at the varsity level.
The freshmen join returning gymnasts Lauren DeHaan, Kaezi Bladey, Meghan Plutschouw and Betheny Kaczanowski, as well as Danielle Krajewski an Morgan Taylor.
“These girls are definitely stronger, cleaner and have a higher skill set after an off season of taking lessons,” DeHaan said.
While qualifying for the team regional is in Lowell’s sight, competing for a league title may not be.
The returning conference champion Kenowa Hills and gymnastics powers Rockford and Forest Hills Central all stand in the way.
“Both Rockford and FHC all have Division I talent. That is hard to compete against,” DeHaan explains. “We have good balance and more depth, now the girls just need to clean up their routines and make the right connections,” Dehaan concludes.