Rams Girls Swim and Dive has first conference loss since 2012

Fifth-ranked West Ottawa traveled to fourth-ranked Rockford and escaped with a 165-50 win for the Rams’ first conference loss in girls swimming and diving since 2012.

Defending state champion Rockford started the meet off in style with an easy win in the 200 medley relay, with Erin McDowell, Masy Folcik, Morgan Kraus and Sam Knepper posting a time of 1:48.74 to West Ottawa’s 1:52.47.

The battle proved to be a back-and-forth affair, as West Ottawa rebounded nicely with a win in the 200 freestyle by freshman Lilly Brandt (1:56.15), out-touching Rockford’s Peyton Rayburn (1:56.20). Caroline Sisson, who was a state finalist in the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke last season, followed that with a win in the 200 individual medley (2:08.82) over Rockford’s Masy Folcik (2:10.74).

Rockford followed with three consecutive wins, with junior Morgan Kraus (23.97) beating out Ayisha Afrik (24.39), junior Elise Jendritz rolling in the diving competition (271.65) and Kraus taking the 100 butterfly in 56.99 ahead of Rockford sophomore Rachel Gamm, who was second in 1:01.05.

Afrik bounced back by nudging Rayburn in the 100 freestyle (53.48-53.68), but Folcik responded by winning the 500 freestyle (5:21.53) by four seconds.

The Rams then posted another relay win, with Kraus, Gamm, Knepper and Rayburn taking the 200 freestyle relay in 1:39.75. West Ottawa responded with a .01 win as Kacey Westenbroek out-touched Erin McDowell at the wall (1:00.88-1:00.89). Despite that, Rockford pulled to within four points at 136-132 with two events left.

Sisson gave West Ottawa a cushion heading into the last relay with a win in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.81) over Rockford freshman Sara Kraus (1:10.03).

The Rams had a shot to pull off a comeback win in the last event, but West Ottawa shut the door by winning the 400 freestyle relay in 3:37.72 over Rockford’s 3:41.69 (Folcik, McDowell, Gamm and Rayburn).

The Rams fell to 7-2 in dual meets this season and next travel to Grandville today at 6 p.m. Rockford will host senior night Oct. 19 against East Kentwood.