LINCOLN — Slowing things down and not trying to win the meet with one dive helped Joey Weber become a state champion Thursday.
The Ralston/Omaha Gross sophomore won the boys state high school 1-meter diving title on the very last dive of the meet at the Devaney Center.
Weber knew exactly what he needed to do after Lincoln Northeast freshman Austin Alexander — who had taken the lead from Millard West’s Noah Batenhorst in the eighth round — finished his last dive for a total of 452.75 points.
“That helped me tremendously, knowing what I had to do,” Weber said. “That the destiny was in my hands, not someone else’s.”
Weber got on the board, made his dive, and as soon as he hit the water his Ralston/Gross teammates roared, even before the judges scores were posted. They were confident Weber had done more than enough to give Ralston/Gross its third state diving title in four years.
Indeed he had, with a total of 458.60. Batenhorst finished third at 431.35 while Elkhorn/Elkhorn South freshman William Gottsch was fourth at 405.30.
Ralston/Gross coach Dave Contreras said what Weber learned from competing at the 2012 state meet paid dividends Thursday in a pressure situation.
“This year it boiled down to him knowing how to pace himself and not try to win it all in one dive,” Contreras said. “He learned last year it takes all 11 dives to be a champion. There was not one I’d ask him to do over again.”
By focusing on just the next dive he had to do — but not too far in advance of it — Weber said he was able to calm himself and put everything into each dive.
“I learned you can’t be thinking about the next dive,” Weber said. “I had to think about something else, so I usually just talk with my parents or friends, people who are out there for me.
“About four people in front of me I’ll start thinking about the next dive and really start zoning in.”
Some technical adjustments to his dives helped Weber gain more confidence. Contreras said that at practice Wednesday, Weber “ripped” eight of his dives, and the other three “weren’t far off.”
“I knew this was coming,” Contreras said.
In a way, Weber said he could feel that as well. And coming from behind also is something that Weber has done a few times in his young career. He keeps some of the highest degree-of-difficulty dives for the end of his program.
“I like the pressure,” Weber said. “It makes me dive better, do anything better. Those last three dives are some of my most confident dives.”
Individual results: 1, Joey Weber, Ralston/Omaha Gross, 458.60 points. 2, Austin Alexander, Lincoln Northeast, 452.75. 3, Noah Batenhorst, Millard West, 431.35. 4, William Gottsch, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 405.30. 5, Brady Stock, Lincoln Southwest, 349.85. 6, Tyler Dvorak, Papillion-La Vista/Papillion-La Vista South, 333.70. 7, Vincent Malene, Millard South, 326.75. 8, Collin Plath, Ralston/Omaha Gross, 323.65. 9, Jeremy Knispel, Kearney, 310.55. 10, Noah Miller, Scottsbluff/Gering, 305.55. 11, Jack Frisbie, E/ES, 305.00. 12, Nicholas Vosik, Millard North, 298.65. 13, Josh Gasper, Columbus, 297.75. 14, Colton Wulfkuhl, E/ES, 288.90. 15, Elie-Benjamin Elkahwaji, MN, 283.80. 16, Chase Hopper, Norfolk, 272.60.
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