There couldn’t have been a more appropriate occasion for the Rams to host Senior Night than on their last OK Red dual meet of the season at Rockford’s home pool on Thursday, Feb. 17. It was a bittersweet ending to a perfect conference dual meet record, as the Rams beat the Grandville Bulldogs 196-116, making them 10-0 for the season. Head Coach Tom Parks had nothing but words of praise for his seven seniors: swimmers, captain Ben Fredrickson, Victor Lima, captain Jared Martella, Tim Newberger, captain Jeff Schmitt, and divers, captain LJ McCauley and Kurt Plaggemars. Parks boasted, “This is the first group of seniors that I have ever coached in which the entire senior class has scored at conference. They are truly a diverse group, but have all worked together and become tremendous leaders with a strong work ethic.” Diving Coach Mark VanDyken agreed, “Our two senior divers have led their younger teammates by example. Kurt never quits until he gets it right, and LJ fulfills his role as captain very well by bringing a positive and fun attitude to diving, which makes all the hard work fun.” It was a night of mixed emotions, as Parks introduced the seniors to the audience one by one, while the younger Rams stood in a line and firmly shook the hands of their senior leaders and said goodbye. For some it was hard to hold back the tears, as they realized that this would be the last time that these Rockford seniors and their younger teammates would swim together on this deck. Parks admitted, “It has been an absolute pleasure to have coached these guys. They will be truly missed.” As for the senior swimmers and divers, they had some words of wisdom about their experience over the years of being on the team. Senior captain Martella, whom Parks doted as a “hard worker,” admitted, “Swimming on the high school team is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and probably will ever do… getting up so early, the grueling workouts. Yet, if I had to do it again, I would still swim. It gives you discipline, and a sense of commitment, and helps you to become a better student.” Newberger, whom was described by […]
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.
Very pleased with the outcome of the Saturday, Feb. 7, Freshman/Sophomore Swim/Dive Invitational, Rockford’s coaching staff couldn’t voice enough praises about their team. Rockford placed second behind powerhouse Zeeland, out of eight West Michigan schools (Byron Center, East Kentwood, Grand Haven, Grandville, Jenison and West Ottawa) competing in this event hosted by Grandville. “I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” said head coach Tom Parks. “Many of them swam their personal bests.” The results of this invitational exhibit Rockford’s extreme competitiveness for several years to come. Of the 12 events, the Rams placed at least once, and sometimes twice or three times, in 10 of them and brought home 23 medals. Many of the events had more than 35 participants vying for a top spot, but only the first eight winners in individual events and the leading three teams in relays won medals. The Rams who brought home “hardware” were sophomores Ben Fredrickson (first, second and two fifth places), Jared Martella (one eighth place), LJ McCauley (one fifth place), Tim Newberger (two seventh places), Kurt Plaggemars (one eighth place) and Jeff Schmitt (first, second, fifth and seventh), and freshmen Eric Chisholm (one first place), Josh Travis (two second places and one fourth), Bryan Wasberg (three first places and one second) and Harrison Webb (fourth and sixth). Other swimmers who earned points for the team were sophomore Dominick Sheridan and freshmen Ben Pitts, Cam Cross, Daniel Newberger and Alex Savage. “Everybody worked really hard. It was a good meet. But look out next year Zeeland!” said freshman Allyn Kinney. Medal winners are as follows: 200-yard medley relay – Ben Fredrickson, Jeff Schmitt, Josh Travis, Bryan Wasberg (second place) 200-yard IM – Bryan Wasberg (first place); Josh Travis (fourth); Jeff Schmitt (seventh) 50-yard freestyle – Ben Fredrickson (fifth) 1-meter diving – LJ McCauley (fifth); Kurt Plaggemars (eighth) 100-yard butterfly – Ben Fredrickson (fifth) 100-yard freestyle – Harrison Webb (sixth); Tim Newberger (seventh) 500-yard freestyle – Jeff Schmitt (fifth) 200-yard freestyle relay – Eric Chisholm, Ben Fredrickson, Jeff Schmitt, Bryan Wasberg (first) 100-yard backstroke – Josh Travis (second); Harrison Webb (fourth); Tim Newberger (seventh) 100-yard breaststroke – Bryan Wasberg (first); Jared Martella (eighth)