After only three weeks of practices under Head Coach Tom Parks, the Rockford boys swim and dive team are off to an impressive start. The Rams dominated every event except one in their first non-conference meet of the season against Byron Center on December 7, defeating them 109-74, while qualifying for state in six events. The 200-yard medley relay team of Craig Wasberg (backstroke), Bryan Wasberg (breaststroke), Ben Fredrickson (fly), and Eric Chisholm (free) knocked out a time of 1:40.68, almost four seconds under the state-qualifying time for that event. The other five state cuts that night included junior Eric Chisholm in the 50 free (22.32), junior Bryan Wasberg in the 100 breast (1:03.04) and the 200 IM (2:02.60), and freshman Craig Wasberg in the 100 fly (54.58) and the 100 back (56.31). Senior captain LJ McCauley led the diving portion of the meet with a first-place finish and a final score of 220.20. The Rams faced a much tougher Forest Hills Northern/Eastern team at home on December 14, but still managed to come away with a victory of 186-129. The swim team only dominated six of the 11 events that night, but were able to grab another two new state-qualifying times, giving them eight total for the season already. The Forest Hills swim team came out especially strong in the relays, but the 200 freestyle relay team of senior captain Ben Fredrickson, senior captain Jeff Schmitt, B. Wasberg, and C. Wasberg managed to come out on top with a win and a state-qualifying time of 1:32.25. C. Wasberg grabbed another state-qualifying time in the 200 freestyle (1:48.88), while placing second to junior Paul Kersjes from Forest Hills, who swam a 1:48.75 to take the win. It was the depth and total team effort of the Rams that night, though, that helped them win. The Rockford boys seized many of the third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes in each swimming event to help lead Rockford to a victory. The Ram divers were especially strong, grabbing four of the top five spots. Senior Kurt Plaggemars led the way with 206.45 points, followed by McCauley in second, sophomore Noah Markel in fourth, and junior Josiah Zittel in fifth.
Head Coach Tom Parks
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 Mlive.com, 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. […]