Grandville outswims Rockford, 153-162
by DENISE WEBB
Even though Rockford won its first two swim/dive meets of the season, the true test of the Rams’ depth, strength, endurance and speed came on January 7 at their first conference meet against favored Grandville.
Just like last year’s closer-than-close meet, eardrum-bursting screams of excitement were endless throughout the entire thrilling meet, as these two powerhouses fought back and forth for the win. The score of the meet reflected only a one-, two- or three-point difference throughout the first eight of the 12 events. Even during the diving portion of the meet, the score remained close.
A slight upset for the Rams during this event was when Grandville’s Dan Dougherty unexpectedly scored a 7.0-6.5-6.5 for his last dive of the evening, pushing Rockford diver LJ McCauley out of third place.
At the end, senior Tyler Johnson and juniors McCauley and Kurt Plaggemars placed first, fourth and fifth, respectively, with Johnson (223.85 points) and McCauley (194.85 points) impressively performing personal bests.
The first big turning point of the evening came at the end of the ninth event, the 200-yard freestyle relay. The score was Grandville 112, Rockford 109. Unlike individual events—which score points for the top seven out of eight finishes—in the OK Red conference meets, relay events only earn points for the first three finishes (10 points, 5 and 3, respectively). Grandville placed first and third, jumping ahead of Rockford by 11 points. Even though Grandville won first and third, the finishing times between the top four places were close, similar to how the entire meet had been.
Another turning point of the evening was at the conclusion of event 11, the 100-yard breaststroke. Rockford’s senior Brian Ginebaugh (first place), junior Jared Martella (third), sophomore Daniel Newberger (fifth) and senior Ian Rosloniec (second) collectively earned 18 of the possible 29 points for the event, narrowing the score to Grandville 152, Rockford 145.
The 12th and final event of the evening was the 400-yard freestyle relay. In order for Rockford to swim away with the win, the Rams had to place first, second and third in front of Grandville’s state-qualifying team of Jason Bergsma, Blake Bosworth, Daniel Torralva and Mike Wynalda. Unfortunately, Rockford placed just second and third, with the meet ending Rockford 153, Grandville 162.
Even though Rockford lost by nine points, “It was a good meet,” said junior Jeff Schmitt.
Several swimmers recorded personal best times, and 11 state-qualifying times between Grandville and Rockford were swum.
Rockford’s state-qualifying swimmers included senior Alex Devries (55.22, shaving hundredths of a second off his existing state time of 55.52, in the 100-yard butterfly); sophomore Bryan Wasberg (1:49.30, 200-yard freestyle); the team of seniors Derik Bothma, Devries, Ginebaugh and Connor Thelen (1:42.09, beating their existing state time of 1:42.45, 200-yard medley relay); and the team of freshman Trenton Babcock, juniors Ben Fredrickson and Martella, and sophomore Josh Travis (1:44.05, 200-yard medley relay).
“We swam with a lot of motivation and heart tonight, but [Grandville] out-touched us at the wall, literally, with two of their fastest swimmers being taller than 6’8” or 6’10”,” said Fredrickson with a snicker.
“We knew this season’s and last season’s teams were going to be their best in years,” said Rockford’s head swim/dive coach Tom Parks. “For the past several years, Grandville has had a lot of strength and speed. This year’s team has added a key component: much depth. We swam and dove well, but lost some key close races. We’ll regroup and take another swing at them at conference.”
The Rams’ next meet is at home against Hudsonville at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14.