Grandville successfully defended its Michigan state championship, defeating Traverse City 56-0 for its second-straight title. The Bulldogs are now 20-0 over the previous two fall seasons.
Grandville advanced to the final after defeating Berkley 36-7 and Livingston 44-0 in the knockout stages, while Traverse City topped Sparta 49-0 and Grand Haven 19-11 for the final’s berth. When the teams met each other for their regular-season match on Sept. 19, Grandville prevailed by its smallest margin – as it would turn out – all season, 31-7. But two months had done the reigning champ well, and the rematch was a one-sided affair.
The Gable sisters, Bayleigh and Bethany, and Matja Saarenheimo-VanderHorst drove an oppressive defense that set the tone for the match. With plenty of ball in hand, the Bulldogs were able to work their systems on offense.
“We were able to capitalize on continuity down the field throughout the game, which helped us be successful scoring,” Grandville coach Terra Gunther reported. “Traverse City was physically a bigger team than us, but utilizing our skills base and following through with the basics, we were able to counter that.”
Bayleigh Gable led all point-scorers with 16 on two tries and three conversions. Erin Fitzpatrick, Lizzy DeYoung, and Saarenheimo-VanderHorst scored a brace of tries apiece, and Emily Bickle, and Kendra Marckini added five-pointers. Coach Gunther singled out Bayleigh Gable for generating momentum for the team; DeYoung for putting forth her best performance of her career; and Bethany Gable for leading the forwards.
“Rugby is based so much on teamwork, and without the solid team we have, none of the scoring would have been possible,” Gunther added. “The rest of the 15 girls on the field that day deserve recognition: Gabby Sillman, Alex Atkins, Corryn Bush, Lexie Brown, Addy Ochoa, Brea DeJong, Gabbz Keranen, and Claire Chance.”
As Grandville moves into the off-season and enjoys some well deserved time off, some team members will be staying active. A handful of Bulldogs will be heading south Little Rock, Ark., for the American Rugby Pro Training Center’s High Performance high school 7s camp. And while the squad prepares for spring 7s, Grandville will keep the single-school national tournament in its sites. More news on that championship division to come.