Connor Thelen

Rockford swim/dive team defeats East Kentwood 192-116

February 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

by DENISE WEBB “It was one of the best nights of my life,” said a smiling senior Andrew Murray, as he exited Rockford’s natatorium February 18 after swimming his last high school dual meet. Murray had much to smile about that evening. The Rams swamped East Kentwood 192-116 in their final dual meet of the season, which landed the Rams in a three-way tie for the dual-meet season with West Ottawa and Grandville (5-1 record each). Also, Murray and nine other senior swimmers and one senior diver were recognized and honored for their combined­­­­­­­­­­ 35 seasons of dedication to the sport. Of these 11 seniors, eight have been on the team since their freshman year, when Tom Parks became head swim coach for the men’s team. “It’s been a fast four years,” said Parks. During the past four years, several of these young men have won medals, swum state-qualifying times, placed at the state level, been added to the Grand Rapids Press top swimmers/divers of West Michigan list, and helped mold the team into a group of dedicated athletes. The seniors honored that night were Kevin Bors, Derik Bothma, Andrew Denhof, Alex Devries, Rob Fugate, Brian Ginebaugh, Tyler Johnson, Andrew Murray, Kyle Peterson, Ian Rosloniec and Connor Thelen. While some of these seniors will be hanging up their Speedos after graduation, others are continuing with the sport during their college years, including Bothma, Devries and Ginebaugh. Bothma plans to swim in college, but has not yet “signed on the dotted line.” He has had many successes during his time at Rockford High School. During his sophomore year, he received Most Improved Swimmer. For his junior year, he was awarded All Conference and was a state qualifier in the 50-, 100- and 500-yard freestyle, and was a member of the team that placed third in state in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Not quite through his senior season, he has already qualified for state in the 50- and 100- yard freestyle. The advice he leaves his teammates is, “Enjoy it, even though it’s hard. Commit and always give your best.” When asked to share a fond memory, Bothma quickly responded with Parks’ infamous saying, “Jump and unleash the rockets.” Devries plans to swim for Ramapo College of […]

Rockford’s Swim/Dive Team Wins OK Red Conference Title

March 5, 2009 // 0 Comments

by DENISE WEBB How sweet it is to taste victory as the underdog! As West Michigan media favored Grandville as the next winner of the OK Red swimming and diving conference title, Rockford had much to prove as it entered the waters of the Jenison Aquatic Center during preliminaries on Friday, Feb. 27, followed by the final heats on Saturday, Feb. 28. After a two-day battle filled with nonstop excitement against some of West Michigan’s top swimmers and divers from East Kentwood, Grand Haven, Grandville, Hudsonville, Jenison and West Ottawa, the Rams won by 56.5 points. Even though the Rams eventually won by a respectable margin, the score of the 12-event meet was always fluctuating, keeping Rams fans on the edge of their seats. A prime example was when Rockford was down 11 points after the eighth event, and then fought back only to tie Grandville after the ninth and tenth events. The moment of the meet that “sealed the deal” came when junior Brian Ginebaugh, freshman Bryan Wasberg and seniors Andrew Sakala and Guy Gordon placed 1-2-3-7, respectively, in the 100-yard breaststroke, the 11th event, earning the Rams enough points to enter the 12th, and final, event with an untouchable lead. As Gordon touched the wall and quickly looked at the scoreboard, he said he was “ecstatic” to learn that his teammates placed 1-2-3, and his time qualified him to compete at the state level in two weeks. “All the hard work paid off!” he expressed. The competition overall was extremely fierce at the conference meet. Several swimmers from all seven schools secured state qualifying times. Throughout the two-day meet, approximately 80 percent of Rockford’s extraordinary team swam or dove personal bests, resulting in 27 individual conference medals. The Rockford medal holders are: seniors Tyler Augustine (four medals), Gordon (one), diver Quinton Rodriguez (one) and Sakala (four); juniors Derik Bothma (four), Alex Devries (three), Ginebaugh (four), diver Tyler Johnson (one) and Connor Thelen (one); and freshmen Josh Travis (two) and Wasberg (four). “This team’s seniors have come a long way since their freshman year,” said Assistant Coach Don Seifert. “Their progress has been exceptional, and their win has been an incredible achievement.” “This year’s team is one of the most aggressive I have ever […]