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Spring sports recap: Track teams keep league win streaks alive

Baseball Team

SchepelThe baseball team finished 23-17 overall and in second place in the final MIAA standings with a 20-8 record. Calvin saved its best baseball for last, winning eight of its final nine games, including a four-game sweep of Albion. Calvin also handed league champion Adrian two of its three defeats during the year, splitting a four-game series with the nationally ranked Bulldogs.

Named to the All-MIAA first team from Calvin were junior pitcher Ben Sietsema (Ada, Mich.) and freshman outfielder Tyler Berger (Grand Rapids, Mich.). Named to the All-MIAA second team from Calvin were senior utility player Nate Pocock (Wayland, Mass.), junior shortstop Matt Schepel (Grand Rapids, Mich., pictured above) and sophomore pitcher Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, N.J.).

During the spring, Pocock and Schepel both received MIAA Position Player of the Week honors. Meanwhile, Sietsema was a three-time MIAA Pitcher of the Week. In addition, Berger was named to the All-Mideast Region third team after finishing the year with a .400 batting average and a .971 fielding percentage.

The 2009 season also saw the Calvin baseball team rewrite the school record book as senior infielder Chris Blacklidge (Comstock Park, Mich.) became the Calvin career leader in doubles (31) and Schepel became the Calvin career leader in runs batted in (92). Schepel also established a Calvin single-season record for runs scored (43) while Pocock matched the Calvin single-season records for doubles (13) and runs batted in (38). With an 8-2 season record, Sietsema also matched the second-best single-season win total in school history.

Softball Team

Vanden AkkerThe softball team finished 4-29 overall and in eighth place in the MIAA standings. The Knights were paced by their senior class led by pitcher Kristin Folkerts (Grand Rapids, Mich.) who racked up 151.1 innings, ranking second among all MIAA pitchers in overall games.

In conference play, the right-hander tallied 65 innings of work to lead the conference.

At the plate, senior outfielder Jenn Vanden Akker (Grand Rapids, Mich., pictured at right) led the Knights with a .299 batting average while freshman Marie Prins (Hudsonville, Mich.) batted .296 with 10 extra-base hits, including a pair of home runs. Other members of the senior class included infielder Loren Scarbrough (Antioch, Ill.), who was second on the team in runs batted in (14) and infielder Brittany Moriarity (Muskegon, Mich.), who batted .291 with five extra-base hits and four stolen bases.

Men's Tennis Team

DeMaagdThe men's tennis team finished the 2009 season with an overall record of 16-7 and tied for second place in the final MIAA standings. An early-season highlight was Calvin playing its first-ever match inside the Huizenga Tennis and Track Center. Calvin recorded a 4-1 record inside the facility. During the MIAA dual match campaign, the Knights went 4-2, including a 6-3 loss to rival Hope. The Knights came back to edge Hope 5-4 in the MIAA tournament semifinals. The Knights then bowed to nationally ranked Kalamazoo 8-1 in the MIAA tournament championship finals.

Two members of the Calvin team received All-MIAA honors: senior Marcus Zeilstra (Oak Brook, Ill.) was named to the All-MIAA first team for the third straight year while senior Steve DeMaagd (Grandville, Mich., pictured at left) was named to the All-MIAA second team for the second straight year. Ranked 13th in the Central region rankings, Zeilstra was 11-9 while playing at No. 1 singles for the Knights while DeMaagd was 16-6 playing at No. 2 singles. DeMaagd and Zeilstra were also 18-4 together at No. 1 doubles and were ranked 10th in the Central region rankings.

Seniors Andrew Rescorla (Zionsville, Ind.) and Nick Steenstra (Hudsonville, Mich.) also had strong seasons with Rescorla posting a 16-4 singles mark, playing primarily at No. 6 singles while Steenstra was 15-5, playing at either No. 4 or No. 5 singles. 

Sophomore twins Andrew and Matthew DeVlieger (Grand Rapids, Mich.) were steady contributors as well with Matthew compiling an 11-5 singles mark and Andrew a 9-4 singles record.

Women's Tennis Team

Huizenga track and tennis facilityFor the second straight season, the women's tennis team finished in second place in the final MIAA standings. The Knights compiled an overall record of 13-8 and a conference mark of 7-1. An early-season highlight was the first match inside the Huizenga Tennis and Track Center (pictured at right). Calvin recorded a 3-0 record inside the facility. Calvin's lone conference loss during the MIAA regular season was a 5-4 defeat at Hope in late March. The two teams then met again in the MIAA tournament finals in May and once again, Hope defeated the Knights 5-4, coming back from a 4-2 deficit late in the match.

During the year, the Knights were ranked as high as 13th in the Central region rankings. Sophomore Melissa Oosterhouse (Grand Rapids, Mich.) was also ranked as high as eighth in the Central singles rankings. Oosterhouse picked up several post-season awards including the MIAA?s prestigious Sue Little Sportsmanship Award, becoming the first Calvin player to receive the award since 1998. Oosterhouse was also voted to the All-MIAA first team for the second straight year. Playing at No. 1 singles, Oosterhouse was 16-5 including 6-2 against MIAA opponents. In addition, she was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District IV first team.

Also named to the All-MIAA first team from Calvin was sophomore Kaitlin Spoelhof (Holland, Mich.) while junior Elisabeth Geenen (Holland, Mich.) was named to the All-MIAA second team. Spoelhof was 14-7 at No. 2 singles while Geenen was 13-8 at No. 3 singles.

Also reaching double-digit wins in singles for the Knights were junior Rachel Strikwerda (Holland, Mich.) with a 13-6 record at No. 4 singles, sophomore Michelle Busscher (Whitehall, Mich,) with a 10-9 record at No. 5 singles and junior Rachel DeGroot (Lombard, Ill.) with a 10-9 mark at No. 6 singles.

Men's Track and Field Team

VelgersdykThe men's track and field team captured its 16th consecutive MIAA title, taking first at the MIAA jamboree and at the MIAA field day. At the MIAA jamboree, Calvin edged rival Hope by just 6.5 points. At the MIAA field day three weeks later, Calvin widened the gap, finishing with a first place total of 244.5 points, 61 points ahead of second-place Hope.

Calvin took first place in seven events at the MIAA field day with senior Jed Christiansen (Greenville, Pa.) leading the Knights with victories in the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. Christiansen was part of a strong Calvin distance contingent as senior Erik Van Kampen (Elmhurst, Ill.) won the 10,000 meters and took second in the 5,000 meters while senior Nate DeHaan (Byron Center, Mich.) took the 3,000 meter steeplechase, winning the event for the third straight year. Sophomore throwers Joel Klingenberg (Hamilton, Ont.) and Ken Echtinaw (Caledonia, Mich.) also had strong efforts at the MIAA field day, with Klingenberg winning the javelin and placing second in the discus while Echtinaw won the discus and took second in the shot put. In addition, sophomore Eric Michel (Naperville, Ill.) won the league title in the pole vault for the second straight time.

Calvin then landed eight individuals on the All-MIAA team with sophomore Alex Wrobel (Arden Hills, Minn.) and junior Cory Velgersdyk (Bloomington, Minn., pictured above) joining Christiansen, Van Kampen, DeHaan, Klingenberg, Echtinaw and Michel on the all-conference team. For his efforts at the MIAA field day, Klingenberg was voted the MIAA's Most Outstanding Field Event Performer. Christiansen's All-MIAA berth was his fourth straight in track and field.     

During the season, Christiansen broke a seven-year-old Calvin record in the 5,000 meters, clocking in with a time of 14:22.56. Christiansen later took eighth in the event at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships to garner All-America honors. Christiansen also picked up an All-America berth in the 10,000 meters for the second straight year, placing fourth. DeHaan also landed All-America accolades in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a sixth-place finish. It marked the 25th consecutive year that Calvin has produced at least one All-America performance at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.     

Women's Track and Field Team

SteeplechasersThe women's track and field team captured an unprecedented 20th straight MIAA title, winning the MIAA jamboree by a 65-point margin and then taking first place at the MIAA field day with 322 points, nearly 100 points ahead of runner-up Hope.

At the MIAA field day, Calvin took first place in 13 events with senior Lauren Bergstrom (Rochester, Minn.), junior Elizabeth Smit (Kirkland, Wash.) and sophomore Sarah Reasoner (Cambridge, Minn.) all coming up double winners. Bergstrom won the 800 meters with an MIAA record time of 2:11.75 while also winning the 1,500 meters. Bergstrom won both events for the third straight year. Meanwhile Smit won the 3,000 meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters. Reasoner was a standout in the field events, winning the shot put and the discus.

Senior Julie Bratt (Lynden, Wash.) also had a notable performance at the MIAA field day, winning the triple jump for the fourth straight year, becoming the first individual in MIAA women?s track and field history to do so. Bratt won the 2009 league title with an MIAA record jump of 37-7 1/4.

Other individual winners for Calvin included junior Jessica Koster (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in the 10,000 meters, senior Ashley Glover (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in the hammer throw, junior Heather Koning (Kalamazoo, Mich.) in the 400 meters, junior Joy Leach (Charlottsville, Va.) in the pole vault and sophomore Rachel Boerner (Bergenfield, N.J.), in the 400-meter hurdles. The 400-meter league title by Koning was her second straight. Koning also anchored Calvin's winning 4x400-meter relay team. She was joined on the relay by senior Kristen Van Sickel (Pittsburgh, Pa.), junior Katie Roelofs (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Boerner.

Calvin then landed 10 individuals on the All-MIAA team with Bratt earning a spot on the honor team for the fourth consecutive spring. Bergstrom and Koning were also named to the All-MIAA team for the third straight year. They were joined on the All-MIAA team from Calvin by sophomore Gretchen Braymer (Erie, Pa.), Boerner, Glover, Koster, Leach, Reasoner and Smit.

For her efforts at the MIAA field day, Reasoner was named the MIAA's Most Outstanding Field Event Performer. She was later named the Division III Great Lakes Regional Women's Field Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field Coaches Association.

At the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Calvin tied for 13th place with 18 points. Calvin recorded four All-America performances at the meet led by Boerner who placed second in the 400-meter hurdles with a career-best time of 1:00.54. Bergstrom added an All-America effort in the 800 meters for the second straight year, placing fourth. Koster was an All-American in the 10,000 meters, placing fifth, while Reasoner took home All-America accolades in the shot put with an eighth place throw. It marked the 20th straight year that the Calvin women's track and field team has produced at least one All-American atthe NCAA III Track and Field Championships.

Over the course of the season, Calvin shattered five school records with Bergstrom doing so in the 800 meters (2:09.27) and 1,500 meters (4:25.99), Smit in the steeplechase (10:43.05), Bratt in the triple jump (39-1 1/4) and Glover in the hammer throw (143-2).