Rockford’s coaching staff literally dangled carrots, canned carrots that is, in front of their team before the Jenison OK Red conference meet on Thursday, Jan. 21. Not only did Rockford win the meet by more than 60 points, but also 10 swimmers and one diver earned “veggie” bragging rights.
Senior swimmer Rob Fugate explained, “Coach Parks gives us a lofty time to beat for our events. If we manage to meet or beat this time, we have a ceremony the following practice, recognizing those people who achieved their times. At the ceremony, Coach Parks awards the swimmers [and divers] who made their times with a random can of vegetables.” Fugate was one of the honored “veggie award” recipients.
“It’s fun, but it’s serious,” said senior swimmer and co-captain Kyle Peterson, who earned a can of vegetables for dropping 1.50 seconds off his personal best backstroke time and swam a varsity letter time. “It may sound crazy that a can of vegetables motivates teenage boys, but the incentive works.”
Sophomore Alex Savage swims an impressive 500-yard freestyle, earning a personal best time of 5:28.28 and a "veggie" award, and his team a third-place finish. Photo by GORDIE PETERSON
Other veggie winners were senior Connor Thelen, junior Jared Martella (two cans), sophomores Cody Brown, Scott Ginebaugh, Nathan Napolillo, Ben Pitts, Alex Savage, and Josh Travis, and junior diver LJ McCauley.
Rockford finished first in eight events, of which four were state-qualifying times, and placed second, third, fourth and seventh in the diving event behind Jenison’s Nate Reitberg.
From the moment the opening buzzer sounded, Rockford controlled the waters.
The first event—the 200-yard medley relay—ended with a powerful and close first and third finishes by relay teams Eric Chisholm, Alex Devries, Brian Ginebaugh and Thelen; and Andrew Denhof, Ben Fredrickson, Martella and Nick Willison.
Before the waves could settle, Bryan Wasberg (1:50.37), Trenten Babcock (1:55.12), Jeff Schmitt (1:55.75), and Mike Arend (1:59.41) finished first, third, fourth and seventh in the 200-yard freestyle.
Continuing to stir the waters, B. Ginebaugh (2:06.76), Josh Travis (2:07.41), Martella (2:10.91), and Willison (2:14.50) impressively swam first, second, third and fifth places in the 200-yard IM.
The 100-yard backstroke also ended with notable first-, second-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes by Devries (57.82), Travis (58.62), Willison (1:00.30), and Thelen (1:01.59).
The most commanding event of the evening was the 100-yard breaststroke. B. Ginebaugh (1:02.23, shaving .22 off his state-qualifying time), Martella (1:05.52), Dan Newberger (1:08.48), and Ian Rosloniec (1:08.76) swamped Jenison in the event with amazing first- through fourth-place finishes.
Also, swimming state qualifying times were Derik Bothma in the 50-yard freestyle (22.61, shaving .03 off his time) and the 100-yard freestyle (50.06), and Devries in the 100-yard butterfly (54.43, matching his exciting state time).
Rockford’s next meet is at home against Grand Haven at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28.
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