Denise Webb

Swim/Dive team waves season goodbye

March 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

by DENISE WEBB Even though the 2010 season for Rockford’s 49 swimmers and divers has ended, the fond memories will continue. “Looking back at the team’s season, we did really well and accomplished a lot,” said senior Ian Rosloniec. “Our successes weren’t just because of one person though. There were many who did great and got us the points that we needed to win. Without everyone, we wouldn’t have done what we did this year.” The Rams swimmers/divers earned second place at the West Michigan Relays on December 19, first place at the Rockford Invitational January 8-9, and first place at the Freshman/Sophomore Invitational February 6. There were 10 “veggie” winners at the Jenison meet January 25. Rockford had an 8-1 dual meet season record, and a 5-1conference dual meet season record—a three-way tie with Grandville and West Ottawa. They earned first place at the OK Red conference championship meet on February 25-27, and were winners of the OK Red conference. The Rams sent nine swimmers and three divers to the state finals, placing seventh out of 53 Division I qualifying schools. Two Rockford pool records were broken—one by Alex Devries for the 100-butterfly and another by Derik Bothma, Ben Fredrickson, Brian Ginebaugh and Josh Travis for the 200-medley relay. Five swimmers earned All Conference, five swimmers earned All State, four swimmers earned All American, and 107 medals were won throughout this accomplished season. Also, the team collectively swam three-quarters of the way around the world, approximately 15,600 miles. The circumference of the Earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles. The coaches awarded Jared Martella “Most Improved.” “The difference between last year and this year was last year I just swam because I had to,” said Martella. “This year I was inspired to do well. I was inspired when I saw myself scoring points for the team. The more I helped the team, the more inspired I got. Every time I did better, I became more determined.” Seniors Alex Devries and Brian Ginebaugh and sophomore Bryan Wasberg shared the MVP award, and Jeff Schmitt received the Coaches Award. “From day one, everyone got along. It was like a giant family,” Rosloniec added. “Everyone supported each other; meets were crazy with cheering from the whole team. […]

Rockford takes seventh in state for swimming, diving

March 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

by DENISE WEBB At state finals for any sport, the realization of how refined and talented Rockford’s athletes are becomes evident. The March 12 and 13 swimming and diving Division I state preliminaries and finals were no exception. Fifty-four Michigan high schools qualified this year to compete at this event, where only the best of the best participate. On Friday afternoon at the preliminaries, Rockford Head Coach Tom Parks escorted 12 of his finest athletes onto the pool deck of the Holland Aquatic Center. They were seniors Derik Bothma, Alex Devries, Brian Ginebaugh and Tyler Johnson (diver); juniors Ben Fredrickson, Jared Martella, LJ McCauley (diver), Kurt Plaggemars (diver) and Jeff Schmitt; and sophomores Eric Chisholm, Josh Travis and Bryan Wasberg. At the conclusion of the preliminaries, only the top 16 in each event would advance to the finals on Saturday, earning points and medals for the team. Rockford had eight swimmers and one diver advance to Saturday. Throughout the state finals on Saturday, Saline High School held the lead, followed by Ann Arbor Pioneer. Rockford and its OK Red conference foes, Grandville and West Ottawa, were separated from each other by only one or two points until event nine. After event nine, neither Rockford nor West Ottawa could match Grandville’s speed and depth. Grandville ended the day in fourth place, Rockford in seventh (one point from sixth-place Livonia Stevenson), and West Ottawa eighth. Third and fifth places went to Northville and Zeeland, respectively. At the conclusion of the state finals, the Rams earned 18 medals (received after a 1-16 finish). Four swimmers were named All American (after swimming a specific time), and two individuals and one relay team of four were awarded All State (finishing first through eighth in a state final event). “After countless hours of diving and lifting and after many miles of swimming, it was a pleasure to see their hard work pay off,” said Parks. The 200-yard medley relay team of Bothma, Fredrickson, Ginebaugh and Travis not only placed second in the state, but also was awarded All State and All American for the exact-time-needed finish of 1:37.02. First place in the state went to the Holland West Ottawa team, with a time of 1:36.33. Johnson was the only Rockford diver […]

Rockford wins ninth conference championship with fierce momentum

March 11, 2010 // 0 Comments

by DENISE WEBB Shoulder-to-shoulder spectators and fans witnessed a Rockford historical moment as the underdog prevailed on February 25-27 at the Rams’ natatorium at the conclusion of what Head Coach Tom Parks coined a “dog fight season.” Rockford overtook six extremely fast and talented OK Red conference teams to secure its second consecutive conference championship title and its ninth overall since 1997. Rockford won with 368 points, followed by Grandville (338), Holland West Ottawa (317), Jenison (294), East Kentwood (269), Hudsonville (240) and Grand Haven (186). “Based on the entries going into the preliminaries on Thursday [Feb. 25], Grandville was ahead 32 points,” said Parks. Also on, The Grand Rapids Press ranked Rockford on February 25 third behind favored West Ottawa and then Grandville. “I think one of the main reasons why we had so much success this weekend was due to the development of our younger swimmers,” commented swim parent Brian Thelen. “Rockford’s team improved at a greater rate than some of the upperclassmen of the other schools, such as Grandville and West Ottawa. What I am saying is that we were a completely different team than what we were at our first dual meet with Grandville where we lost. Also, Tom Parks and [assistant coach] Dave McWatters did well at determining how to best use our talents in each event.” Starting the three-day conference championship meet, Rockford was in a three-way tie with Grandville and West Ottawa, each with a 5-1 conference record. Thursday evening, Feb. 25, was diving preliminaries. Of the 21 contenders, only the top 16 would advance to the finals on February 27. Of Rockford’s five divers, four of them advanced to the finals, with three of them impressively placing in the top eight spots. These divers were Tyler Johnson (top eight), LJ McCauley (top eight), Noah Markel and Kurt Plaggemars (top eight). “The divers got the momentum going for the team,” said swimmer Connor Thelen. As the Rams walked onto the pool deck of Rockford’s natatorium Friday, Feb. 26, for the swimming preliminaries, the fans and the competition knew there was something totally different about the Rockford swimmers. as they bellowed their pre-meet pool deck cheer. The intonation had more depth and meaning, almost with an underlying message. […]

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 swim/dive team dominates invitational, earns 11 medals

January 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

  Yes, Rockford’s swim/dive team had an “epic, victorious, stupendous, awesome, sweet finish,” said junior Jared Martella, trying to best describe a day of indescribable feats. “Parks was even surprised,” added Martella, talking about Rockford’s head swim/dive coach Tom Parks. The invitational began Friday night, Jan. 8, with the diving portion. Sixteen divers performed 11 dives each. Rockford’s divers senior Tyler Johnson, juniors LJ McCauley and Kurt Plaggemars, and freshman Noah Markel placed third, fourth, eighth and 11th, respectively. Even though Rockford didn’t place first individually, the Rams won the event by earning the most points overall. The top three dive teams were Rockford with 48 points, followed by Jenison (38) and Grand Haven (32). “We scored almost 50 points of the possible 155. That says a lot about our divers,” said diving coach Marc VanDyken. “I’m very proud of them. With the exception of one team, our entire conference was here. This invitational has given me a good idea as to how we might finish at the conference meet.” Rockford’s wins and the excitement continued on Saturday from the first swimmer off the block to the last swimmer to touch the wall. Immediately, Rockford positioned itself in the lead in total points earned with the help of two relay teams comprised of sophomore Eric Chisholm, seniors Devries, Brian Ginebaugh and Connor Thelen (1:43.57, state-qualifying time); and juniors Ben Fredrickson and Martella, sophomore Josh Travis, and freshman Nick Willison (1:45.48). These two relay teams completed the first event, the 200-yard medley relay, with second- and fourth-place finishes. This event had such close competition that the swimmers in every lane seemed to be propelling themselves in synchronized motion. the 200-yard IM, when sophomore Bryan Wasberg, junior Jeff Schmitt, Travis and Willison placed first (2:05.81), third (2:08.96), fourth (2:09.29) and seventh (2:13.25), and collectively earned more than 40 percent of the possible 155 event points. Rockford advanced by 34 points from second-place holder West Ottawa. After an exciting battle for first place in event four, the 50-yard freestyle, Rockford senior Derik Bothma fell to Grand Haven senior Sam Schulze by a mere few one-hundredths of a second. Overall, the Rams again had four swimmers place in the top 16 point-generating slots in an event. These four swimmers […]

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