It was only two years ago that the Rockford swim and dive team found themselves on the losing end of the conference dual meet, when they fell short to West Ottawa by only one point. However, this year was a different story, as the Rams took control from the beginning of the meet and never let up, sinking the Panthers 197-115.
The Rams won eight of the 12 events on Thursday night, Jan. 27, and added another state cut to their season when sophomore Nick Willison touched in first in the 100-yard backstroke event with a state-qualifying time of 56.85. Other individual winners for the Rams included Craig Wasberg (200-yard free), Bryan Wasberg (200-yard IM), Ben Fredrickson (100-yard fly), Mike Arend (500-yard free), and Jeff Schmitt (100-yard breast). The 200-yard medley relay team of Trent Babcock, Jared Martella, Fredrickson, and Eric Chisholm also pulled in a first-place finish, in addition to the 200-yard free relay team of Fredrickson, C. Wasberg, B. Wasberg and Chisholm.
Several of the Rams received a can of vegetables from Head Coach Tom Parks (for the annual “veggie awards”) for achieving an outstanding personal performance in an individual event at the West Ottawa meet. The veggie winners were freshman Reese Patino, freshman Kellen Martella, freshman Tyler VanderHoag, junior Chisholm, and junior Michael Staley. After touching the wall at the end of the 500-yard freestyle, Staley not only dropped six seconds off his personal best time in that event, but also pulled in a fifth-place scoring finish for the Rams.
With only the top seven individual places and the top three relays able to score in an OK Red conference dual meet, the Rams are proving that their tremendous depth is paying off this season. Rockford swept the top four places in the 100-yard fly event, and the top three places in the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard backstroke events at West Ottawa’s home pool on Thursday night.
The Ram divers also seized numerous points for the Rams with their second-, third-, fifth- and seventh-place dives from, respectively, LJ McCauley, Kurt Plaggemars, Noah Markel, and Shane Phillips.
The Rams are counting on that depth and their talented bench to help them secure wins in their last two OK Red dual meets of the season: East Kentwood and Grandville. With both East Kentwood and Rockford having a perfect conference record so far, it should be an exciting match-up at East Kentwood’s home pool on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. The following week at Rockford’s home pool, on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m., the Rams will host Grandville while also paying tribute to their seniors on Senior Night. This Saturday, Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. at Grandville, the Rockford freshmen and sophomores will try to uphold last years’ winning title at the annual Freshman/Sophomore Invite.