High 5s - 2/7/12

February 6, 2012

Have a suggestion for a future High 5? Please offer your suggestions by e-mail to [email protected]. Candidates often will have accomplished great things on the field of play -- but also will be recognized for other less obvious contributions to their teams, schools or the mission of high school athletics as a whole. We also will honor one team each week.

Marissa Campbell

Brighton senior

Campbell has posted some of the state’s top scores this season according to the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association. Her high game of 268 is tied for ninth this season, and her high series of 470 is tied for 20th. She’s averaging 197 pins per game and rolled a two-game 429 last week.

“I think so far I’ve done good. I’ve definitely had some off days, but lately I’m bowling well."

Up next: Campbell has signed to bowl next season with Alabama A&M. She plans to major in biology and minor in psychology. “I’m not really sure what I’ll do yet. But I really like forensics, like CSI. I could be a lab technician.”

My goal this season: "I want to average 200, at least. My high game this year is 268, and I want to (bowl) last year’s, 279. My dream goal is winning states."

My career highlight: "Number one on my list is when I got my high game of 279 when I was a junior. Another was when I made states sophomore year, which was really big because I was only a sophomore. Last year, I missed the state cut by 10 pins.”

I learned the most about bowling from: "My high school coach, Coach (Shawn) Kind, has taught me the most about bowling, as he was my first teacher. Coach Kind is an awesome coach and never yells at his players, but expects a lot out of us because he knows what we are capable of. In the process of teaching me the technical aspects of the game, I grew a passion for bowling. I can’t imagine my life without it.”

I look up to: “My coaches. My high school coach, Coach Kind, and my person coach Lou Marquez. I look up to them because I trust they only want the best for me, and they believe in me. They know my potential, and always push me to be a better bowler.”

Tim Lambert
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern senior

Lambert recently won the 200th match of his career, and now stands at 46-0 this season and 224-5 for his career. He won 61 as a junior and 62 as a sophomore, and sits atop the MHSAA record book with 124 three-point near falls totaled last season. He is seeking to win his first MHSAA championship. He finished Division 2 runner-up at 112 pounds as a sophomore. He’s wrestling at 125 this winter.

Up next: Lambert has signed to wrestle at Nebraska. He is undecided on what he will study. “I have a wide variety of interests though such as business, marketing, fisheries and wildlife, and sports recreation, etc. (I want to be) a good husband and father, and a successful man in whatever I choose to pursue.”

I learned the most about wrestling from: "I’d say learning a lot from my brother and father has influenced my skills. Training at the Olympic Training Center made a huge impact to my wrestling. I have had many coaches throughout my career and outside of high school that have made a big impact in my wrestling success. Craig Shutich and Ernie Gillem are personal coaches that have made major impacts in my success.

I love most about wrestling: “The challenge and the grind. I love being able to train all year mentally and physically to then step out on the mat and be able to see who the best wrestler is without any other variables.”

My pre-match routine is: "I like warming up early and getting a really good sweat or workout in. That way, I am not going into the match with muscles that are tight and not warmed up. And before finals matches I retie my shoes to make them tight, and it kind of refocuses me."

I look up to: "My whole family gives me inspiration and has supported me, and I look up to them. Also, great wrestlers like Jordan Burroughs give me inspiration."

Other sports: "Right now, I don't play any other sports, and I participate in wrestling for most of the year – although I enjoy playing all other sports like basketball, football, and my personal favorite, ultimate Frisbee."

Grand Ledge Gymnastics

The Comets pushed their four-year-plus winning streak to 69 straight meets and became favorites again to win the MHSAA team championship next month by claiming the Canton Invitational title with a score of 146.8, less than a tenth of a point better than runner-up Canton. The meet featured nine teams from last season's MHSAA Team Final, including the top five placers. 

"We were behind after two events, and we're not used to that," Grand Ledge coach Duane Haring said. "When (we) came back to beam, the last event again, they went five for five. There aren't that many teams that can do that. We're one that can, thank goodness."

Grand Ledge's highlight easily was a 10.0 score by senior Christine Wilson on bars. Haring has been told its the first 10.0 in Michigan high school history, although he's continuing to investigate to find out if that is so. Wilson finished second all-around in Division 1, and teammate Lauren Clark won the Division 2 all-around competition.

"They just showed me so much drive and determination Saturday," Haring said. "It was incredible."

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)