Over the last two weeks, the Rockford swim and dive team have proven that they will be a tough contender at the end-of-season championship meets. The Rams continued their OK Red dual meet winning streak by defeating the Jenison Wildcats 215-100 on January 13, and then by dominating the Grand Haven Buccaneers 193-116 on January 20.
However, the true test for the Rams came about at Zeeland’s home pool when Rockford paired up against Zeeland for an out-of-conference dual meet on Saturday, Jan. 22. The Rams surprised the talented Zeeland team—who have not lost a dual meet in their OK Green conference yet this season—by outscoring them 110-76. Zeeland, who is currently ranked fourth in the state behind third-ranked Rockford, did not give the Rams an inch as the teams battled back and forth in every event.
Rockford set the tone from the first event, the 200-yard medley relay, by swimming their fastest times yet this season while grabbing first and third. The first-place 200-yard medley relay team of Craig Wasberg, Bryan Wasberg, Ben Fredrickson and Jeff Schmitt clocked a best time of 1:38.77, with third-place Rams, Nick Willison, Jared Martella, Josh Travis and Eric Chisholm, swimming a solid 1:42.11.
Rockford continued to show a lot of heart and determination, as Mike Arend seized the top spot in the 200-yard freestyle with his first state-qualifying time of the season (1:48.90), edging out Zeelands’ Sam Borgman (1:49.87). Trenton Babcock of Rockford came in third with 1:51.09. However, Zeeland turned the tables in the 200-yard IM event, with Dylan Zwiers placing first (2:00.13) and Christian Otteman picking up third (2:06.04). B. Wasberg placed second with a time of 2:01.99.
Rockford gained some ground in the 50-yard free when Rockford’s Chisholm pulled out an impressive first-place finish of 21.99, followed by Chad Stears of Zeeland in second (22.63), Fredrickson of Rockford in third (23.39), and Harrison Webb of Rockford in fourth (23.69). After the 50-yard free event, the Rams were ahead 37-25.
The Rockford divers knew they faced a tough challenge going into the meet, as Zeeland is home to one of the best divers in the state of Michigan. As expected, Zeeland’s Tyler Keelean dove to a first-place finish with 293.10 points. Rockford divers Kurt Plaggemars and LJ McCauley followed in second and third with 204.30 and 197.92 points, while Zeelands’ Heemstra and Riemersma grabbed fourth and fifth place with 197.03 and 147.45 points.
After the diving event, the Rockford swimmers stormed ahead and upset Zeeland in the 100-yard fly race by placing first, second and fourth. Senior captain Fredrickson touched the wall with his best time of the season so far (53.91), followed closely by C. Wasberg in second (53.92), and Travis in fourth (55.72). Chisholm stole the 100-yard free event with a best time of 48.73, with Schmitt in third place at 50.60. Arend continued his winning streak by dominating the 500-yard freestyle (5:00.49), with Willison placing fourth (5:10.22). Rockford’s 200-yard free relay team of B. Wasberg, Fredrickson, Schmitt and Chisholm also came out ahead with a first-place time of 130.50. B. Wasberg’s lead-off time of 22.60 in the 200-yard free relay qualified him for state in that event.
Once again, Zeeland turned the tables and gained some ground in the 100-yard backstroke event with first-, third- and fifth-place finishes. Zeelands’ Jonathan Mackey took the lead with 55.06, followed by the Rams’ C. Wasberg in second (55.22) and Travis in fourth (57.00). After the backstroke, Rockford continued to hold the lead with a score of 89-67.
The Rams fought hard to the end by dominating the 100-yard breaststroke event with top three finishes. B. Wasberg finished first (1:02.41), Babcock in second (1:03.00), and Martella in third (1:04.31). Babcock earned his first individual state cut for the season with his 100-yard breaststroke time.
The Rams have now qualified for state in 12 individual events and three relays so far this season.
Rockford ended the meet with Arend, Travis, Willison and C. Wasberg winning the 400-yard free relay with a time of 3:24.80.
Looking ahead, the Rams will be traveling to Eastern Michigan University to compete against the fastest swimmers and best divers in the state from all three divisions at the annual MISCA meet. Diving will commence on Friday, Feb. 11, with swimming taking place on Saturday, Feb. 12.