Rockford 186, Hudsonville 128
by DENISE WEBB
There’s always one distinct event that remains in a spectator’s mind when leaving a captivating high school sporting meet. From Rockford’s January 14 swim/dive meet against Hudsonville, the event was undeniable—event five: diving.
“The divers absolutely stole the show tonight,” said swim parent Sarah Ginebaugh, a former diver and diving coach.
All five divers earned personal bests, and senior Tyler Johnson and juniors LJ McCauley and Kurt Plaggemars scored more than 200 points each—228.60, 211.90 and 206.90, respectively.
“Tyler continued to step up and dominate as the veteran on the team,” commented Ginebaugh. “LJ and Kurt also did some amazing dives with incredible height off the board.”
Ginebaugh also added, “Drew [Cornelius] was very solid tonight, and Noah [Markel] performed a very tough list of dives for his first year on the team. I’m sure Coach Marc VanDyken is incredibly proud of his team.”
Rockford’s dive team did perform impressively. For example, Johnson received a 7.5 score from one judge on his front one-and-a-half dive and then scored a 6.0, 7.0, 7.0 on his inward one-and-a-half dive.
After the meet, the ear-to-ear smiles of the dive team communicated more effectively than words how they felt about their performance.
Besides the astounding diving portion of the evening, the meet also generated excitement in the swim lanes.
Of the 12 events, Rockford captured a first-second-third finish in two of them—the 100-yard butterfly (sophomore Bryan Wasberg, junior Ben Fredrickson and sophomore Josh Travis, respectively) and the 100-yard backstroke (senior Alex Devries, Travis and sophomore Nick Willison). The Rams also placed first in seven other events, totaling nine firsts in all.
Additionally, four events were swum in state-qualifying times, including the relay team of seniors Devries and Brian Ginebaugh and sophomores Eric Chisholm and Travis in the 200-yard medley relay (1:43.05). Devries swam 57.69 in the 100-yard backstroke. Ginebaugh improved his previous time by 1.17 seconds with a 1:02.39 in the 100-yard breaststroke. The relay team of senior Derik Bothma, Fredrickson, Chisholm and Wasberg swam a state-qualifying time in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
“The meet went well this evening,” said sophomore Mac Finnie, who swam a varsity letter time and personal best in the 100-yard breaststroke. “It was a true representation of Ram pride.”
“Well said,” confirmed sophomore Bryan Wasberg, with a smile and nod. Wasberg captured three of those first-place finishes.
As a special treat to the swim/dive team that evening, the Rams had guest timers on deck: Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Mike Cuneo, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jamie Hosford, Rockford High School Principal Dan Zang, Assistant Principal (11th grade) Katie VanCuren, Rockford Freshman Center Principal Doug VanderJagt, Rockford Freshman Center Assistant Principal Mike Ramm, and Cannonsburg Elementary School Principal (and Connor Thelen’s mom) Maggie Thelen.
The Hudsonville team couldn’t have summed up the evening better than with their congratulatory team cheer on deck after the final score of the meet was announced: “Good job, Rams!”
The Rams’ next meet is at Jenison on Thursday, Jan. 21.