Oops, they did it again! Rockford girls varsity tennis qualified for the state finals after accumulating the necessary 18 points to earn the honor. The stage was set back on May 15 when the Rams hosted the OK Red conference tournament. Rockford earned 45 points, finishing third and providing the positioning needed for preferred seeding at the regional tournament this past Saturday, May 22 in Jenison. Each of the eight flights won their first round in the single elimination regional event. As the day progressed, it started to become a possibility that Rockford would be a contender. All four doubles teams won their second round as two, three and four singles did as well. It happened to be the hottest day of the season, with temperatures reaching over 80 degrees on the courts. All the players were getting anxious to see if their dream would become a reality. As each flight advanced, it became evident the dream was possible. By late afternoon, after each flight contributed points toward the required 18, it was realized that Rockford had 17 points with one match still to play. Junior Alex Stembaugh, playing three singles, had advanced all the way into the final round. Playing as cool as she did all year, Stembaugh beat her worthy opponent from Hudsonville in straight sets. “I expected tough competition going into the match,” said Stembaugh. “I knew I would have to step up my game.” Coach Tom Huizing stated, “This was a hard-fought season. In the OK Red anything can happen on any day. The same holds true in the regionals. Everyone knew what to do and everyone contributed. Alex was amazing at handling the pressure like a veteran player. I’m extremely proud of the entire team. They did it as a team. They got it done.” It looks like spring tennis is blossoming nicely in Rockford. This will be the third year in a row that the team will be going to state finals under the coaching of Huizing. The entire team is thankful for Coach Huizing, all the community for their support, the parents, the press for covering the action each week, their teachers and friends that came out to see them play, JV coach Val Wallace and their number […]
21 medals earned by DENISE WEBB The excitement level was like no other this past weekend at the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) state finals as hundreds of swimmers and divers from 51 Division I high schools assembled at Eastern Michigan University’s Michael H. Jones Natatorium to determine the “best of the best” in the state of Michigan. The MHSAA state finals began with preliminaries for diving on Thursday, March 13, and swimming on Friday, March 14, followed by the final meet on Saturday. “To think… 77 Division I high schools in the state of Michigan are invited to send qualified swimmers and divers to this meet,” stated Coach Tom Parks. “Several of the 51 schools that competed this year only had a couple of swimmers and divers qualify. Rockford had 13. That’s a lot! It’s been several years since we have had this much talent to send to the state level.” The Rams’ state team consisted of seniors Tyler Augustine, Guy Gordon, Mark Hecksel, Andrew Huizen, Quinton Rodriguez (diver), Andrew Sakala; juniors Derik Bothma, Alex Devries, Brian Ginebaugh, Tyler Johnson (diver), Connor Thelen; sophomores Ben Fredrickson, LJ McCauley (diver); and freshman Bryan Wasberg. A swimmer can only compete in four events at the finals-two individual races and two relays-and to do so he must place in the top 16 of those events at the preliminaries. Not many swimmers qualify for all four of the allowable events. Of Rockford’s state swimmers, only Augustine and Wasberg placed in the top 16 of four events.