by CINDY M. CRANMER Two of Rockford’s boys water polo teams recently participated in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics, which took place in California. The top 84 teams in the nation played at the event. Rockford finished 41st out of the 84 teams in the 16-and-under category, while they finished 45th of the 84 teams in the 18-and-under category. “We had a great time,” said Coach Dave McWatters. “We’ve been going about 10 years. We learn from the best teams in the nation.” Rockford needed to qualify in order to participate in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics. The best finish they had was 19th in 2004. The Midwest Qualifying Tournament takes place in mid-June, where the top teams in each age group qualify to attend the Junior Olympics. Rockford finished third in the 16-and-under age category and second in the 18-and-under category. The boys played against teams put together from the entire Midwest region, including Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Michigan. The top four places in each age bracket qualify to go to the Junior Olympics. “It was great weather in California,” McWatters said. “We were able to watch and learn from some of the best athletes in the United States. Some of these athletes could compete in the Olympics in the future.” Each team played seven games of which Rockford won three and lost four. McWatters said their teams were “very competitive” in playing, losing by only a small number of goals. He said the California teams always are in the top places since they can play year-round outside with the weather. “They certainly dominate the sport,” he said. Some area high schools sent players to Rockford’s team to be a part of a unifying experience and to play. Water polo combines the elements of many other sports played in the water. The sport has elements of soccer, lacrosse, basketball, hockey and swimming. Each team has a goalie and six field players, who all swim throughout the game played in a deep pool, and try to score on the other goal. Players can only use one hand to field the ball or pass other than the goalie. “This is the largest water polo tournament in the world,” McWatters said. He said there are […]
Over 150 male swimmers from seven West Michigan area high schools competed at the annual freshman/sophomore meet in Grandville on Saturday, Feb. 5. Last year the Rams came out victorious with their first win in seven years. However, this year it was the Hudsonville Eagles that came out on top, with Rockford finishing in second place. Hudsonville placed first with 482 points, followed by Rockford (379), Jenison (294), Grandville (252), East Kentwood (231), Grand Haven (222), and Holland West Ottawa (162). Despite the loss, the young Rams put forth a tremendous effort with numerous top-16 scoring finishes and several Rams swimming their fastest times of the season. The top 16 individual scorers for the Rams were: • 200-yard free: Mike Arend (second), Reese Patino (ninth), Dylan Dick (14th), Kurtis Loux (15th) • 200-yard IM: Trenton Babcock (first), Nick Willison (third), Corey Fase (10th) • 50-yard free: Chris Lemoine (12th) • 100-yard fly: Craig Wasberg (first), Corey Fase (10th), Jacob Davis (11th) • 100-yard free: Mike Arend (fourth), Justin Hulsebus (10th), Chris Lemoine (14th) • 500-yard free: Stephan Cress (sixth), Kurtis Loux (ninth), Dylan Dick (12th) • 100-yard back: Craig Wasberg (first), Nick Willison (second), Stephan Cress (ninth), Justin Hulsebus (11th), Reese Patino (15th) • 100-yard breast: Trenton Babcock (second), Kyle Hams (sixth), Tyler Vanderhaag (15th) Rockford placed second in all three relays: • 200-yard medley relay: Willison, Babcock, Wasberg, Davis (1:44.68) • 200-yard free relay: Lemoine, Davis, Hulsebus, Arend (1:40.89) • 400-yard free relay: Arend, Willison, Babcock, Wasberg (3:26.15) The Rockford divers, Noah Markel and Shane Phillips, finished in third and eighth places for the Rams, with a final score of 288.80 and 234.40 points respectively. This week, many of these young Rams will join the Rockford juniors and seniors to face off in a dual meet against East Kentwood at the Falcons’ home pool on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Both teams still remain undefeated in the OK Red conference.