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 […]
Over the last two weeks, the Rockford swim and dive team have proven that they will be a tough contender at the end-of-season championship meets. The Rams continued their OK Red dual meet winning streak by defeating the Jenison Wildcats 215-100 on January 13, and then by dominating the Grand Haven Buccaneers 193-116 on January 20. However, the true test for the Rams came about at Zeeland’s home pool when Rockford paired up against Zeeland for an out-of-conference dual meet on Saturday, Jan. 22. The Rams surprised the talented Zeeland team—who have not lost a dual meet in their OK Green conference yet this season—by outscoring them 110-76. Zeeland, who is currently ranked fourth in the state behind third-ranked Rockford, did not give the Rams an inch as the teams battled back and forth in every event. Rockford set the tone from the first event, the 200-yard medley relay, by swimming their fastest times yet this season while grabbing first and third. The first-place 200-yard medley relay team of Craig Wasberg, Bryan Wasberg, Ben Fredrickson and Jeff Schmitt clocked a best time of 1:38.77, with third-place Rams, Nick Willison, Jared Martella, Josh Travis and Eric Chisholm, swimming a solid 1:42.11. Rockford continued to show a lot of heart and determination, as Mike Arend seized the top spot in the 200-yard freestyle with his first state-qualifying time of the season (1:48.90), edging out Zeelands’ Sam Borgman (1:49.87). Trenton Babcock of Rockford came in third with 1:51.09. However, Zeeland turned the tables in the 200-yard IM event, with Dylan Zwiers placing first (2:00.13) and Christian Otteman picking up third (2:06.04). B. Wasberg placed second with a time of 2:01.99. Rockford gained some ground in the 50-yard free when Rockford’s Chisholm pulled out an impressive first-place finish of 21.99, followed by Chad Stears of Zeeland in second (22.63), Fredrickson of Rockford in third (23.39), and Harrison Webb of Rockford in fourth (23.69). After the 50-yard free event, the Rams were ahead 37-25. The Rockford divers knew they faced a tough challenge going into the meet, as Zeeland is home to one of the best divers in the state of Michigan. As expected, Zeeland’s Tyler Keelean dove to a first-place finish with 293.10 points. Rockford divers Kurt Plaggemars and […]
by Chris Cruickshank The Rockford High School boys cross county team participated in split squad events over the weekend, with the varsity team running at the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 17, and the junior varsity team running at the Sparta Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 18. As it had been for the past few years, the Sparta Invitational was wet and slippery. Due to passing thunder and lightning early on, it was delayed 90 minutes. But the delay had little effect on the Rams, who took the top 11 places in the junior varsity race. The Rams’ Austin Benoit led from start to finish, completing the rain-soaked course in 17:58. Rounding out the top 11 spots for the Rams with a 47-second spread were Casey Aman, Evan Bruin, Andrew Pitcher, Tyler Harney, Conner Jewell, Nate McQueen, Cam Fasel, Grant Aman, Tim Newberger and Matt Albano. Coach Martin commented, “The guys ran very well today considering the conditions. What I liked most is that they came out and pushed the pace from the very beginning and ran together—each of the top 15 Ram finishers ran with and finished near at least one other teammate. We practice running in groups to help push each other.” Next up, the Rams harriers run at East Rockford Middle School against East Kentwood on Wednesday, Sept. 22, and at the Cougar-Falcon Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Gainey Complex, located on East Paris Drive in Kentwood.
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)