Muskegon Lumberjacks defeat Green Bay Gamblers 4-2 with penalty kills; Cooper Marody a main fixture on offense

Cooper Marody of Muskegon Lumberjacks, left, attempts a pass in the third period during their game in Muskegon on Sept. 27, 2014. (Andraya Croft | Photographer)

Cooper Marody of Muskegon Lumberjacks, left, attempts a pass in the third period during their game in Muskegon on Sept. 27, 2014. (Andraya Croft | Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — After giving up a quick goal in the first period, the Muskegon Lumberjacks took control and won 4-2 over the Green Bay Gamblers at the L.C. Walker Arena on Saturday, Oct. 25.

In the third game of the Lumberjacks’ home stretch, Muskegon (7-3-0, 14 points) remained undefeated at home on the season with their second straight win in as many days against Green Bay (3-6-0, 6 points).

The Gamblers struck first off the stick of defenseman Vili Saarijarvi, who was assisted by forward Joe Wegwerth with 16:14 left in the first period.

Momentum swung in favor of the Lumberjacks after Gambler defenseman Mark Yanis, who previously played for Muskegon, was charged with a boarding penalty.

Soon after the penalty kill by the Gamblers, forward Steven Merl pulled the Lumberjacks even on a goal at the 10:50 mark in the first period.

“The guys have done a pretty good job. The goalie is always your best penalty killer,” said Lumberjacks head coach Todd Krygier. “Our guys were out there blocking shots and they were showing some desperation and urgency this weekend.”

With 1:43 left to play in the first period on their second power play of the game, Lumberjacks forward Cooper Marody shot on net only to have forward Tommy Marchin knock one in off the rebound to grab the 2-1 lead.

However, the Gamblers would answer with a rebound goal of their own from forward Drew Best after the Lumberjacks failed to clear the puck from their zone.

The play of the night came later in the second period on a steal that led to a transition goal by forward David Keefer who went top shelf with 1.6 seconds left to play. That goal was what broke the camel’s back as the Lumberjacks never relinquished the lead after.

With no power play goals recorded for the season, the Gamblers came close when defenseman Anthony Walsh found the back of the net partway through the third period. However, the goal was waved off by officials because goaltender Eric Schierhorn was interfered with.

“We’ve done what we’ve had to do to win,” Krygier said of the three-game win streak. “We’ve done it against Chicago and Green Bay, which is huge since they are divisional games. It was a good weekend.”

Player spotlight

Lumberjacks forward Cooper Marody had a great performance Saturday night, finishing the game with an empty-net goal and an assist.

Cooper Marody

Cooper Marody

Marody has excelled this season, posting 7 assists through 10 games after adding another in tonight’s 4-2 win over the Gamblers.

As a University of Michigan commit, Marody entered his second season with the Lumberjacks with a few goals in mind.

“I want to be a leader for the rookies and the new guys here,” Marody said. “As far as my personal goals go, I’m just trying to become a better player every day. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.”

One of his main assets has been as the team’s main setup man, where he leads the Lumberjacks in assists.

The six foot, 177-pound forward out of Brighton has seen his share of luck with the puck as his goal on Saturday came on an empty net with 16 seconds left in regulation.

“I’ve never seen (Marody) skate so fast on that empty-netter,” Krygier said. “Cooper’s been playing really well. He’s been doing a better job defensively and he contributes on offense. Cooper is one of our top players.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 25, 2014)

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Muskegon Community College sports recap: Women’s cross country finishes fourth at Region XII championship race

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — The Muskegon Community College women’s cross country team ran against the best in the state on Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Region XII and MCCAA championships held at Grand Woods Park in Lansing.

mccIn one of the deepest regions for women’s cross country in the NJCAA, the Jayhawks took fourth out of 13 teams that included six nationally-ranked teams.

Fourth-ranked Lansing won the meet with 29 points, followed by Cuyahoga CC with 82 points, Macomb CC with 84 points and the Jayhawks with 109 points.

Leading the way for the Jayhawks was freshman Deanna Near, who finished seventh in the region out of 73 runners and was fifth in conference with a time of 19:18.

“Deanna ran a great race and earned All-Region, All-Conference and All-Freshman team honors,” said head coach Dan Fishel.

Rounding out the top seven runners for MCC in order was sophomore Andrea Lavigne – who earned All-Conference Honorable Mention – sophomore Samantha Eely, freshman Raquel Zavala, freshman Andie Young, freshman Marlee Harris and freshman Sabrina Smith.

The Jayhawks will be back in action when they race at the NJCAA National Championships in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday, Nov. 8.

MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY

The men’s Jayhawk cross country team raced Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Region XII and MCCAA championships held at Grand Woods Park in Lansing.

The men took fifth out of 13 teams in the region and finished fourth in the conference. Fifth-ranked Lansing won the meet with 29 points, while Vincennes took second with 50 points and Macomb and Mott tied for third with 118 points.

Leading the way for MCC was sophomore Jacob Baker, who took fourth out of 92 runners and second in the conference with a time of 26:32.

Rounding out the top seven in order was sophomore Colin Duca, freshman Austin Persoon, freshman Dominic Flores, freshman Lenin Castillo, freshman Dylan Medendorp and freshman Austin Kleiner.

The Jayhawks next race will be at the NJCAA National Championships in Lubbock, Texas on Saturday, Nov. 8.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

The Jayhawks women’s soccer team was in University Center on Sunday, Oct. 26 to play Delta CC in their final game of the year.

MCC lost to Delta College by a score of 3-1, after being down 2-0 at the end of the first half. Freshman Caitlin Hughey scored the lone goal for MCC in the second half.

The Jayhawks needed a win to advance to regionals and finished the season with a 5-9 overall record.

VOLLEYBALL

The MCC volleyball team traveled to Auburn Hills to play in the MCCAA state tournament on Saturday, Oct. 25. The Jayhawks fell to Macomb CC in the opening round by a score of 3-0. The set scores were 24-26, 24-26 and 15-25 in that order.

The Jayhawks’ stat leaders included Brandie Jones with 12 kills, Meghan Birr with 30 assists, Lindsey Kotecki with two aces, Veronica Booth with 18 digs and Dani Jones who finished with three blocks.

The Jayhawks are now 20-13 overall and will be back in action Friday, Oct. 31 against Jackson CC in the first round of the Regional XII tournament at Owens Community College in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 27, 2014)

Mona Shores Holiday Arts and Crafts Show returns for Nov. 1 showcase

An overhead look at last year's Mona Shores Holiday Arts and Crafts Show, which was held in the Mona Shores High School gymnasium. (Courtesy Photo)

An overhead look at last year’s Mona Shores Holiday Arts and Crafts Show, which was held in the Mona Shores High School gymnasium. (Courtesy Photo)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

NORTON SHORES, MI — Tis the season to be crafty.

The Mona Shores Holiday Arts and Crafts Show returns for six hours at the Mona Shores High School at 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1. The juried arts and crafts show will take place in the high school’s three gyms and cafeteria, located on 1121 W. Seminole Road.

“We accept hand-crafted arts and crafts with a variety of jewelry and pottery,” said Debbie Wilks, secretary for Mona Shores High School. “This is our 35th year and we will have vendors of about 170 that will be on display throughout the day.”

The food items to be sold at the show include dip, baked goods, beef jerky, soup, caramel corn, fudge and other assorted chocolates.

Two separate concession stands –- one that will play host to the normal beverages and snacks, while the other will have more lunch items from the cafeteria — will be featured at the event. The price for admission is $1.

“The money raised goes back to support the show with all its expenses,” Wilks said. “We have to be self-supporting because it does not come out of the general fund.”

For Norton Shores resident Suzette Heeres, the crafts show tends to be a family affair for some of the vendors.

Heeres, along with her sister and their daughters, have been running a booth at the show as vendors for five years now.

“We think it’s well-organized and well-attended,” she said. “That’s important when you have people out there trying to sell stuff they’ve made by their hands.”

Among the items sold by Heeres are refurbished pieces of furniture, Christmas crafts and “snow ladies” – which are vintage bottles filled with jewelry.

As one of the largest craft shows in the area, Heeres said it’s beneficial to the vendors to be under one roof with 4,000–6,000 potential customers walking through during the day.

However, the people are the reason that Heeres keeps coming back each year.

“I’m a people person. Every job I have ever held has been with people,” Heeres said. “I just talk to people the whole six hours I’m there.”

For those interested in learning more about the show, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MonaShoresCraftShow.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 28, 2014)

‘The Big Crunch’: Muskegon County schools, businesses participate in apple-eating event

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI — Students and teachers across Muskegon County stood next to one another with an apple in hand and a smile on their faces.

Several schools and businesses in Muskegon, Oceana, Kent and Allegan counties took part in “The Big Crunch” on Friday, Oct. 24. The event required participants to simultaneously bite into an apple in a joint effort to encourage healthy eating and garner attention for local agriculture.

The apples that were eaten in Whitehall and Montague were provided by NJ Fox and Sons Farms in New Era and Gavin Orchards in Coopersville, which were also used to help propel the students into the history books.

“The goal is to set the world record for eating the most apples at one time,” said Dan Gorman, food service director for Montague and Whitehall school districts. “Students and staff hope to break their own record of the most people eating an apple at one time, which currently stands at 19,087.”

According to Gorman, an apple company based out of New Zealand challenged their crunching record, only to lose it the following year. This year the countywide effort hopes to beat their previous record by an additional 1,000 participants.

Although Gorman won’t know the official number until later next week, the large turnout at Montague was promising. Leading up to the 1 p.m. countdown, Gorman stood with Montague’s high school and middle school students as they bit down on Johnny Appleseed’s most-prized possession.

The Big Crunch is a 1 in 21 Healthy Muskegon County supported event that was created to promote healthy snacking among the young and old in West Michigan.

Gorman also serves as a chairman for the 1 in 21 Healthy Muskegon Education Committee, which partnered with educational leaders, health professionals and community members with the goal of making Muskegon County the healthiest county in Michigan by the year 2021.

“We talked a little bit about 1 in 21 and the importance of healthy eating habits,” Gorman said. “Today is National Food Day and this is in line with that while acknowledging local agriculture.”

The Big Crunch was created a number of years ago as part of a 1 in 21 initiative that grew out of the schools’ committee, Gorman said.

The event took place in myriad locations and school districts, which included Shoreline Elementary School.

David Hundt, principal of Shoreline Elementary, said they have been taking part in The Big Crunch on their playground for four years. However, for the last two years, the elementary school has gotten creative with the event.

“We have all the preschool through second-grade kids, so we like to do things a little differently,” Hundt said. “Last year there was going to be a fly-over, so we all dressed up in red in a Pac-Man formation that could be seen from the sky.”

This year Hundt planned to make a giant target with an arrow going through it, which was meant to represent the “learning target” that the school incorporates with its students.

Despite the clever formation, the clouds proved to be too low for a flyby on Friday.

“It’s really fun to be part of something bigger than the school,” Hundt said. “The learning target is something we are all working on so the kids know what they are supposed to be doing. It helps them feel more connected to the world outside of school.”

Gorman said he remains positive the effort will surpass the record and allow them to reach their goal of 20,000 synchronized bites due to the number of schools from outside their county that contacted him.

“This year I’ve heard back from most of the schools in the county,” Gorman said. “When all is said and done I think we’ll probably get it because (the students) get excited that it’s a world record.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 24, 2014)

Muskegon Mustangs football team travels to Wisconsin to play highly ranked Racine Raiders on Saturday

Ryan Moore of the Muskegon Mustangs carries the ball inside the 5-yard line in a playoff game on Aug. 16, 2014. (Ken Stevens | MLive.com)

Ryan Moore of the Muskegon Mustangs carries the ball inside the 5-yard line in a playoff game on Aug. 16, 2014. (Ken Stevens | MLive.com)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI – The Muskegon Mustangs might be playing their toughest opponent in their two-year history this Saturday.

The Mustangs will take on the Racine Raiders (12-0) in Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. Central time. The Raiders are ranked No. 3 among all semi-pro football teams in the country, having been around for more than 20 years.

Mustangs coach Brad Haney said his team will be doing the same thing to prepare for the Raiders as it has for the rest of its opponents this season.

“This is the best team we have faced in our two years,” Haney said. “They have their own place, they have a fan base and players want to play for them. It’s going to be a completely different atmosphere and I don’t want our players to get caught up in the moment.”

The Mustangs (10-2) played nearly perfect in their first game of the Midwest Football Championship Tournament Series. The Mustangs won 21-6 by scoring the first three touchdowns of the game against the Lincoln-Way Patriots on Saturday, Oct. 11 at Oakridge High School.

That was the first game the Mustangs had played in more than a month with a few new players added to their roster. With a new defensive scheme and some additional rest, Haney hopes his squad can give the Raiders that loss they rarely see on game day.

“The Raiders are one of the most respected teams in semi-pro football history,” Haney said. “We can get to know who we are by playing teams of this caliber. It’s going to be a different breed of football.

“It would be huge for us and the program to come out of this with a win. We know we can play with the best of them.”

Jason Schmiedeknecht, who plays at different positions on the offensive line for the Mustangs, said the Raiders are one of the most physical teams in the country.

The Raiders are also considered one of the biggest and most athletic teams by drawing in the top talent from around the country. Schmiedeknecht said this has given the Mustangs the incentive to watch some game film to help spot any of the Raiders’ tendencies.

“We’re pretty confident in our defensive backs, but we have to be able to shut down the run game first,” Schmiedeknecht said. “On offense it’s just a matter of getting the timing down with our new guys. We were a little out of sync last game, which was expected.”

The Mustangs made some key additions to the team after their 27-20 loss to the reigning Great Lakes Football League champion Detroit Seminoles. Those key additions helped their struggling defense hold the Patriots – a team that averaged more than 40 points a game – to one touchdown.

As a result of some new offensive starters and the lack of familiarity, the Mustangs’ high-scoring offense was held to three scores. However, Haney said the lack of scoring could also be attributed to the Patriots defense.

“We knew we were going to struggle and we welcomed that,” Schmiedeknecht said of their last game against the Patriots. “I think we are ready to take on the Racine Raiders. If we go in there, play clean football and come out on top, we can be one of the top teams in the nation again.”

Schmiedeknecht said the Mustangs have already been invited to a bowl game in Miami, but if they were to win the tournament series championship game, they could play in a prominent title game that would feature eight of the best teams in the country.

One thing that has been weighing on the players’ minds is the level of talent on the Raiders’ roster. Schmiedeknecht said he believes the Raiders will prove to be a tougher opponent than when they lost to the Seminoles.

“Honestly, I think (the Raiders) would beat Detroit hands down,” Schmiedeknecht said. “Detroit is ranked No. 2 in the country, but I feel (the Raiders) are a bigger challenge. The big difference between us is the commitment we’ve had.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 24, 2014)

Fishing Report: Muskegon finding plenty of perch, still waiting on steelhead

Dan Kovalick of Alto shakes hands with Joel Duckett after Duckett netted a steelhead at the fish ladder in Grand Rapids. Steelhead have been rarity for most in Muskegon, while the Whitehall area has seen them flourish in their waters. (Cory Olsen | MLive.com)

Dan Kovalick of Alto shakes hands with Joel Duckett after Duckett netted a steelhead at the fish ladder in Grand Rapids. Steelhead have been rarity for most in Muskegon, while the Whitehall area has seen them flourish in their waters. (Cory Olsen | MLive.com)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — The end of October normally marks a turning point for fishing in Muskegon.

Bill Funk, owner and operator of Shoreline Service Bait and Tackle, said this time of year can bring a shift in the type of fish that are in the area because of the colder temperatures in Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake.

“The winds and stuff keep (perch) off of Lake Michigan, so there is not much boat fishing there,” Funk said. “That’s just what the fall is known for — windy, adverse conditions. I haven’t heard of any steelhead on the beach; they usually move up on the shore in late-October and early-November. Hopefully that will start this upcoming week.”

It seems the salmon season has come to an end in Muskegon, as they have been dying down in Lake Michigan, which is right on schedule according to Funk.

This week Funk has noticed the amount of perch being caught around Muskegon Lake. Perch have been biting between Bear Lake Channel and the black buoy, Funk said.

The bait that has proven to be the most successful has been minnows, but wax worms and night crawlers have been known to work.

“Some have been catching (perch) between two dozen and four dozen,” Funk said. “It can be sort of spotty. You can be watching the guy next to you catch a lot while you’re sitting there getting nothing.”

Further north, it’s a different story in the White Lake region.

Mike Olsen, who helps out at Johnson’s Great Outdoors in Montague, said they haven’t had to wait for steelhead.

“People at the Whitehall Pier have been catching a smattering of steelhead,” Olsen said. “Walleye are being caught at night; still waiting for the water to turn over.”

Bluegill are still doing well in 20-30 feet of water, while Whitehall fishermen have caught steelhead in the rivers and salmon at the dams.

The bait being used out of Montague and Whitehall includes spawn for steelhead, bluegill on wax worms.

Olsen said there haven’t been any big reports on perch, but he said there is a chance that will change in the coming weeks.

“With this nice weather, I’m fairly sure there will be a turn in the fishing next week,” Olsen said. “I would get into the steelhead and walleye because once the water turns cold, they move in a little bit. It’s definitely on its way.”

Across the rest of West Michigan

According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Muskegon anglers were just starting to fish off the pier with spawn and have had no luck catching salmon or steelhead.

On the Muskegon River, water levels are up after increased rainfall, causing there to be more fish reported. The DNR said there is a decent number of steelhead and brown trout in the river, as well.

In Whitehall, pier anglers are catching coho and steelhead when still-fishing with spawn. A few brown trout were also being caught.

Pier anglers in Grand Haven caught few steelhead when using spawn. Gizzard shad have been used for bait, but they are normally not the bait of choice.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 23, 2014)

Technology gets younger: Orchard View Middle School introduces new robotics class to eighth-graders

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — A select few eighth-grade students were given the opportunity to be guinea pigs for a class at Orchard View Middle School that began in the 2014 fall semester.

The class, which is being called Robotics, was brought to Orchard View to combine the regular subjects of science and mathematics, as well as the aspects of technology and engineering (STEM). In the class, students are taught to build and program robots to complete the simplest of tasks – such as completing a figure 8.

Jamie Daugherty, curriculum director at Orchard View Middle School, said they were searching for classes to add that were considered “outside the normal curriculum.”

“We were looking for some new options for our elective classes at the middle school,” Daugherty said. “We wanted something that would go with our new purpose statement and decided on Robotics last spring.”

The gear purchased for the class came at about $6,000, which included teaching materials, a master syllabus and 15 robot kits.

Ryan Wilson, who normally teaches math and computer classes, was asked to run the class during the last hour of the day.

“It’s amazing the overlap in curriculum,” Wilson said of the first few weeks. “Whenever there is a math lesson that comes up, I make a point to emphasize this is why we learn this and this is how it pertains to the outside world.”

Wilson set to work during the summer, getting to know the robots and the teaching materials they came with. What he discovered was how intricate some of the designs could be.

In the class, Wilson had students program what they wanted the robots to do through code that was typed onto their laptops. The programming takes into considerations the time, distance and wheel rotations of the desired task. Students would then use a USB cord to connect the robot to the laptops in order to transfer the programmed rotation.

“Visually, they’re not very appealing, but the inner workings of it are pretty awesome,” Wilson said. “I want to get to the basics of moving the robots, some of the basic sensor usage and then from there they can go into more elaborate programming.”

On the first day of class, Wilson demonstrated how one of the more elaborate robots operated. Wilson said that was all it took to motivate his students.

“This is my sixth year (teaching) and I have not been in a classroom that I enjoy teaching as much as this one,” Wilson said. “I think it is as much fun for me. It’s not just because of the robots; it’s because of the excitement the kids have about the robots.

“It’s refreshing to have kids who look forward to coming to your class. It really is rewarding.”

Orchard View Principal Jim Nielson was a part of the process of bringing the class to life and has gotten wind of the excitement and curiosity the class has caused among students.

“I’ve heard nothing but great things,” Nielson said. “Students who aren’t in the class stop by the office to find out how they can get into it.”

Currently, the Robotics class is being offered one hour a day for nine weeks. That is half a semester, which allows up to four classes of 20-25 different students to enroll in the new course.

Nielson said the school will keep an eye on the class as it progresses and will determine down the road whether or not to expand it to lower grade levels.

“I think if the success (with this class) continues, we will look into expanding this to another grade level,” he said. “It will be in addition to incorporating math. I see the benefits.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 19, 2014)