West Ottawa outswims Rockford by nine points

Rockford parents were on the edge of their seats Thursday, Oct. 14, as they watched the girls swim team face conference strongman West Ottawa. The Rams only placed first in two of the 12 events—the 50-yard free by Jamie Van Portfliet and the 100-yard butterfly by Sarah Smith—but the team’s depth still earned enough points to keep the Rams in the game to the very last relay event.

Rockford freshman Kara Vandawater swims a state time in the IM against West Ottawa. Photo by SHANNON OUELLETTE

The Rams started off trailing West Ottawa by eight points after the initial 200-yard medley relay as the A relay squad of Morgan Longberg, Rachel Romain, S. Smith and Kennedy Cutler only placed second. The team fell further behind in the 200-yard free, with Adrianna Craft finishing third, Alaina Smith fourth, Lexy Caster sixth, and Emily Smith seventh. But in the 200-yard medley, the Rams were able to add more points to their column by S. Smith placing second, Morgan Lipe fourth, Romain fifth, and Kara Vandawater sixth. In the 50 free, they pulled even closer to West Ottawa, with Van Portfliet taking one of the two first-place finishes, as well as Casey Wolfer taking fourth, Cutler fifth, and Lauren Girard sixth.

Rockford’s divers pulled the teams even by Macie Degraaf placing second, Katie DeHaan third, Erica Finlayson fourth, and Maggie Setterington fifth. S. Smith took first in the 100-yard butterfly. With teammates A. Smith (third), Madison Trimble (fourth) and Taylor Downs (fifth), she pulled the team to 11 points ahead of the Panthers.

Ram junior Alaina Smith competes in the butterfly event. Photo by SHANNON OUELLETTE

But the lead wasn’t enough to keep Rockford ahead, as the Rams came up with less points than the Panthers in the next five events.

In the 100-yard free, VanPortfliet finished second, Wolfer took fifth, Longberg sixth and E. Smith seventh. In the 500-yard free, Caster took third, Girard fourth, Craft fifth and Kayla Kidder seventh.

Rockford’s A relay (Cutler, S. Smith, Wolfer, Van Portfliet) and B relay (A. Smith, E. Smith, Craft, Caster) finished second and third in the 200-yard free. Longberg placed third in the 100-yard backstroke, supported by Vandawater (fourth), Downs (sixth) and Rachel Fredricks (seventh). Cutler took third in the 100-yard breaststroke, followed by Romain (fourth), Lipe (fifth) and Sloan Ouellette (seventh).

By the final 400 relay, West Ottawa was back ahead by seven points. To win the meet, the Rams needed to place first and second in the relay. They placed second (A. Smith, Craft, Wolfer, Van Portfliet) and third (Kristen Schnelle, Girard, Longberg, Caster). West Ottawa won by nine points, 162-153.

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