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Rivals combining, no kidding

Some April Fools Day many years ago, the local radio station – it was WSDR, if memory serves – played a bit of a prank on its listeners.

It concocted a story about Rock Falls and Sterling combining athletic programs. For some reason, it seems like they were going to be known as the Roosters.

Not sure on that last part, I was pretty young. Maybe it was the Rocksters. I am sure someone out there remembers it better.

I believe they went all in on the prank, getting officials from both schools to make faux comments on the situation.

It seems like they kept the bit going for about an hour, before pulling the plug and letting the audience know that the two twin-city rivals would keep their own programs.

Over the last few weeks, we've been looking at each school and their sports' programs. We are running Rock Falls today, and will run Sterling's on Monday.

Without giving too much away, both schools' programs seem to be healthy and thriving.

But – all these years later – the prank has become a reality in boys and girls swimming and diving.

It's a good move for a lot of reasons – the first, it offers a very close option for Rock Falls students interested swimming to get involved with a team.

Not just any team, either. Sterling swimming has been a very strong program over the years, and it has opened the doors to some big-time scholarships for several of its athletes. I don't doubt there's talent south of the river that can now have a better chance to chase that dream.

The second reason it's good, it'll give Sterling and Rock Falls fans a chance in both the fall and winter to find some common ground.

While the rivalry between the two schools has mellowed over the last decade, especially now that they do not participate in the same conference, this should take the mellowing to the next level.

Now, will this open the door for more combining? Maybe, but like I said, most of the programs at both schools are quite healthy.

The most likely joint efforts would be in programs like soccer and tennis, which Rock Falls does not currently offer.

It seems unlikely to happen in boys soccer, where the combined enrollments of the two schools would push the program up a class to 3A.

It would remain in 2A in girls soccer.

Tennis seems the most likely to opportunity, since, like swimming, it is a one-class sport. Adding the enrollment of Rock Falls isn't going to change a thing competition-wise.

I don't have any insider's knowledge if any of these sports have ever been discussed, or ever will, but this story caught my imagination.

Heck, it caught my imagination all those years ago as a listener falling for a prank.

Just think what would have happened all those years ago, if one town had formed around the Rock River instead of two. The sports landscape of the Sauk Valley would look vastly different, that's for sure.

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