The Rams swim & dive team celebrates their OK Red victory. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
EAST KENTWOOD – The Rockford swim & dive team had an impressive season leading up to the OK Red Conference Meet – racking up an undefeated conference campaign, going 5-0. All they needed to do was claim the meet to make it a perfect conference season. They traveled to the East Kentwood natatorium, Saturday, Nov. 9, to put it all on the line in the final conference showdown. Entering the pool as a team like they have all season, coach Sara Tow’s Rams put in so many impressive performances that they were able to rack up enough points to claim the OK Red Conference Meet.
The Rams tallied 440 points on their way to earning the crown. West Ottawa claimed second, earning 409 points. Incredibly competitive, the meet saw third-place Grand Haven nose out Hudsonville by a mere .5 points. The Bucs tallied 353.5 points, while the Eagles totaled 353. Grandville placed fifth with 248.5, while East Kentwood placed sixth with 135.
The Rams put everyone on notice as they kicked off the event with a huge first-place win in the 200 Medley Relay, touching the wall in 1:46.25, which was an East Kentwood pool record. The relay team was comprised of the talented Sara Kraus, Josie Geers, Rachel Gamm and Taylor Scott. The team from Hudsonville claimed second and Grand Haven took third. Event 2, the 200 Freestyle, found the Rams earning valuable points, with Masy Folcik placing second for 17 points with a time of 1:53.67, impressive enough to qualify for the State Finals. Also finishing for the Rams in the event, were Oliver Harmsen in sixth with a time of 1:59.71, and Isabelle Glover in 12th with a time of 2:05.23, to earn 13 and 5 points, respectively.
After just one event of rest, Kraus entered the pool again for the 200 IM and placed second earning 17 points with a time of 2:06.51, which was a state-qualifying time. Geers placed seventh with a time of 2:18.08, earning 12 points for the Rams, and Ali Kinstle kicked in 6 points by placing 11th, and Rylee Davis placed 14th earning the Rams 3 valuable points.
Rockford dominated the 50 Freestyle with three Ram swimmers landing in the top five, with all three qualifying for State competition. Ashley Lund touched the wall first with a time of 23.59 for 20 points, Scott placed third with a time of 24.78 for 16 points, and Paige Beers placed fifth, clocking in at 25.01.
In the 1-meter Diving portion of the event, Paige Clauser landed seventh with 261.60, earning 12 points for the Rams, and Jessica Axtman landed ninth with a 257.10 to earn the Rams 9 points. The 100 Butterfly found Gamm claiming second with a time of 57.53, which also qualified her for the State Finals. Alex Fisher claimed ninth for 9 points, and Gabrielle Shirley added 7 points to the Rams’ score by placing 10th.
Lund added to her big day by placing second for 17 points in the 100 Freestyle with a time of 51.79, adding to her first-place finish in the 50 Freestyle. The time qualified her for the State Finals. Harmsen followed in sixth for 13 points. Paige Beers turned in an impressive time in the “B” finals, touching the wall at 54.36, to earn herself a place in the State Finals and tallying 9 points for the Rams.
Event 8, the grueling 500 Freestyle saw Folcik land fourth with a time of 5:12.46, qualifying for the State Finals and earning 15 valuable points for the Rams. Glover landed 10th for 7 points, and Kinstle followed her immediately for 6 points. Rockford wasn’t done, Marie Prawdxik placed 16th to add another important point to the Rams’ final score.
Rockford claimed another relay as the combined team of Kraus, Beers, Folcik and Lund touched the wall first with a time of 1:36.29. Event 10, the 100 Backstroke found Gamm touching the wall second with a time of 59.12, which qualified her for the State Finals and earned 17 points. Also earning points were Alex Fisher, placing in ninth place for 9 points, Adrianna Acala placing 12th for 5 points, and Kaitlyn Morrison placing 14th for 3 points.
The 100 Breaststroke found Rockford swimmers placing 2-3, with Kraus landing second with a state-qualifying time of 1:04.33 for 17 points, and Geers placing third for 16 points with a time of 1:08.85. Taylor Scott placed ninth for 9 points, and Rylee Davis placed 12th for 5 points.
The final event of the day, the 400 Freestyle Relay found the Rams team of Beers, Gamm, Folcik and Lund earn a second-place finish, ahead of the team from West Ottawa, who was also in a position to win the OK Red Meet, to add to the excitement. The Rams overpowered the Panthers, touching the wall at 3:33.83, while West Ottawa clocked in at 3:42.61.
The meet was an impressive showing of the depth and talent of the Rockford roster. It was also the culmination of the hard work every swimmer on the team has put into the season.
A special honor was paid to Ram swimmer Rachel Gamm. She received the OK Red Girls Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year award.
The Ram divers will now prepare for the MHSAA Regionals, scheduled for Nov. 15 at East Kentwood. The swimmers will prepare for the State Finals, which will take place November 22 and 23 at the Holland Aquatic Center.
The Ram seniors (L-R): Kyrra Morrin, Kaitlyn Morrison, Faith Ten Eyck, Ally Kinstle, Masy Folcik, and Rachel Gamm. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
The 400 Freestyle Relay Team: Top L to R: Rachel Gamm and Masy Folcik Bottom L to R: Ashley Lund and Paige Beers ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
The senior swimmers hold up the OK Red trophy in celebration. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
Head coach Sara Tow joins the team and coaching staff in the pool. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
Ram swimmer Rachel Gamm earned the Girls OK Red Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus