For the first time this season, the large Rockford team was actually outnumbered by its OK Red opponent when it battled against East Kentwood on Thursday, Feb. 2. Despite the size of the East Kentwood team, the Rams had little trouble shutting down the Falcons, as they ended the meet with a 183-123 victory. As has been the case all season long, it was the total team effort of the entire Rockford squad that has made them such a tough opponent to beat in conference play. In the opening event, the 200-yard medley relay, the Rams showed off their tremendous depth and talent when they grabbed all top three relay spots. While the toughest training of the season is upon them, junior Trenton Babcock was still able to seize his third individual state cut, the 18th for the Rams, with his win in the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.76). Senior Harry Webb couldn’t have come any closer to a state cut with his 56.70 swim in the 100-yard backstroke, missing the qualifying time by only .01 seconds. With only two conference duals left, Rockford will be at Grandville on Thursday, Feb. 9. Then on Thursday, Feb. 16 (Senior Night), the Rams will host Hudsonville, the only other remaining undefeated team in the OK Red.
Rockford High School Swim Team
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 […]
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. […]