Rockford takes close second in West Michigan Relays

31 medals, one state-qualifying time

by DENISE WEBB

Nick Willison helps his team earn fourth place in the 400-yard medley relay.	Photo by DENISE WEBB

Nick Willison helps his team earn fourth place in the 400-yard medley relay. Photo by DENISE WEBB

At the beginning of the season, Rockford Head Coach Tom Parks commented that it was going to be a tough OK Red conference season for Rockford’s swim/dive team. The truth of this statement became evident on December 19 at the West Michigan Relays held at the Holland Aquatic Center.

Of the 14 participating high school teams, the top three were from the OK Red conference, and the final scores revealed the intense competitiveness between these teams. Grandville won with 318 points, followed by Rockford (314) and West Ottawa (306).

“Even though we lost by four points,” said Rockford senior co-captain Brian Ginebaugh, “we are happy with the results. Several teammates swam personal bests. Also, the entire team was exhausted, coming off of several weeks of tough training, so we actually performed better than we thought we would.”

Ben Pitts waits for his teammate to finish before leaving the block.	Photo by DENISE WEBB

Ben Pitts waits for his teammate to finish before leaving the block. Photo by DENISE WEBB

The tough training Ginebaugh mentioned includes one-hour practices before school and intense two-and-a-half-hour practices after school. All this water time equates to more than 6,000 miles swam collectively by the team within the first 20 days of practice.

The meet provided ongoing excitement with more than 400 swimmers and divers performing in front of packed bleachers and a two-deep standing crowd.

Rockford placed first in three of the 11 events: the 200-yard breaststroke (Derik Bothma, Ginebaugh, Jared Martella and Brian Wasberg; 1:56.56), the 200-yard butterfly (Alex Devries, Ben Fredrickson, Josh Travis and Wasberg; 1:40.47), and the 200-yard medley relay (Bothma, Devries, Ginebaugh and Connor Thelen; 1:42.45).

The 200-yard medley relay team swam an impressive state-qualifying time, which was more than two seconds faster than the required 1:45.19. This event was the second state-qualifying time for Devries and the third for Bothma.

Rockford divers Tyler Johnson (left), Kurt Plaggemars and LJ McCauley (back) receive their second-place medals.	Photo by DENISE WEBB

Rockford divers Tyler Johnson (left), Kurt Plaggemars and LJ McCauley (back) receive their second-place medals. Photo by DENISE WEBB

During the diving portion of the meet, Rockford’s team of senior Tyler Johnson and juniors LJ McCauley and Kurt Plaggemars placed second with a combined score of 311.20 points.

Once the meet ended, Rockford had earned 31 medals and one state-qualifying time. The medals earned include:

•   200-yard breaststroke—first place, 1:56.56, seniors Bothma and Ginebaugh, junior Martella, sophomore Wasberg.

•  200-yard butterfly—first place, 1:40.47, senior Devries, junior Fredrickson, and sophomores Travis and Wasberg.

•  200-yard medley relay—first place, 1:42.45 (state-qualifying), seniors Bothma, Devries, Ginebaugh and Thelen.

•  Diving—second place, 311.20 points, Johnson, McCauley and Plaggemars.

•   200-yard backstroke—third place, 1:46.19, freshman Trenten Babcock, Thelen, Travis, and freshman Nick Willison.

•   400-yard medley relay—fourth place, 3:49.01, Babcock, Bothma, Devries and Wasberg.

•    400-yard medley—fourth place, 3:59.57, Babcock, Travis, Thelen and Willison.

•    800-yard freestyle—seventh place, 7:56.83, Ginebaugh, junior Jeff Schmitt, sophomore Jared Seifert, and Willison.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, Jan. 7, to attend the Rams’ next swim/dive meet against powerhouse Grandville.

About Squire News

The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.
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