The seniors have led the team all season long. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
The Rockford Swim & Dive Team entered OK Red Championship competition, Thursday, Nov. 1, and spent the weekend at West Ottawa High School competing for the top spot in the conference. While the title for this win would go to the West Ottawa Panthers, the Rams put on a phenomenal show of talent and tenacity as they fought their way to a well-deserved second place.
The competition started Thursday night with diving. Rockford was able to qualify three divers into the finals, Elise Jendritz, Jessica Axtman, and Paige Clauser. Diving finals competition would occur during the championship Saturday, Nov 3, and the qualification of three divers into these final flights, put Rockford in a great position starting the swimming preliminaries Friday afternoon.
The Lady Ram swimmers took to the pool Friday afternoon in a big way. Qualifying a large number of swimmers for the final round of competition on Saturday; Rockford, West Ottawa, Grand Haven and Hudsonville knew the battle for the OK Red title was going to be tough with the outcome coming down to swims separated by just 100th’s of seconds. With pool records broken in the preliminaries, everyone in attendance knew the finals competition would be just as fast and a real show of Michigan’s best high school talent.
First event of the finals was the 200-yard medley relay. As expected, the four top teams in the OK Red battled to the wall – with Hudsonville taking the event by 7/10ths of a second. In the 200 Freestyle, Masy Folcik and Ashley Lund placed third and fourth, followed by a second and sixth place finish by Sara Kraus and Josie Geers in the 200 IM. Rockford’s first win of the championship came in the 50-yard freestyle, with senior Morgan Kraus out-touching West Ottawa’s top sprinter by 4 100th’s of a second.
At this point in the meet, the scoring was close. West Ottawa had pulled ahead and the battle for second place was well underway. Diving competition resumed with the top 16 divers from the preliminaries back on the boards. Senior Ram Elise Jendritz captured second, with Jessica Axtman and Paige Clauser taking 12th and 14th. This great effort by the divers kept Rockford in second place for the start of the second half of the meet, a place the Rams would fight to keep through the last event.
The 100-yard butterfly was next, and Rockford did not disappoint. Morgan Kraus crushed the OK Red Conference and pool records with her first-place finish. The Rams also placed a critical second and fifth with Rachel Gamm and Masy Folcik, respectively. In the 100-yard freestyle, Ashley Lund captured second for the Rams, followed by Ally Kinstle and Isabelle Glover taking 11th and 12th in the 500-yard Freestyle.
Heading into the 200-yard freestyle relay, Grand Haven started to challenge the Rams for the second place point total, but Rockford had an answer to this, winning the event by over a second and shutting down the competition. Rachel Gamm and Sarah Foster placed third and fourth in the 100-yard backstroke, with Sara Kraus and Josie Geers taking second and third in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The final event of the night was the 400-yard freestyle relay. In order for Rockford to finish the conference with a second place, the Rams had to win the relay. With the natatorium stands full of cheering fans, Rockford demonstrated what team was all about – crushing the competition by setting a new pool record. The Rams would finish second in the OK Red Championships, with an extremely successful meet.
Next up for the team is the MHSAA State Championships Nov. 16-17.
The Rams 400-yard freestyle relay team celebrates their victory. ~ Photo by Dana Kraus
Tag(s): Swim & Dive