Young breezes to Class 3A/2A diving crown

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:37am

FEDERAL WAY — At a time when keeping it real is all the rage, Samantha Young prefers to pretend.

To ward off the throng of butterflies taking up residence in her belly, the Shorecrest sophomore put her imagination to good use at last week’s Class 3A/2A girls swimming and diving state championships.

The outcome was nothing short of a dream come true.

Improving on last season’s third-place showing, Young captured the 1-meter diving title in convincing fashion when the two-day state meet wrapped up Nov. 15 at King County Aquatic Center.

“Last year my goal was third,” Young said. “This year I was shooting for first, but most of all I was shooting for a score over 400.”

Young’s 11-dive total of 412.3 points was more than 40 points better than the next closest finisher. It was also a career-best mark and the ninth highest all-time score among 3A/2A/1A divers.

Though her marks didn’t reflect it, Young spent much of the meet grappling with her nerves. Coming in as the odds-on favorite to claim the diving crown turned out to be more of a burden than a blessing.

Young confessed that during the preliminaries she let herself become overwhelmed by her surroundings. Between dives, the pressure was gnawing at her.

“I wasn’t pretending like it was practice, like you’re supposed to do,” Young said. “Today (in the finals), I pretended it was like practice and it turned out good.”

More like marvelous.

Forgetting about the backdrop, the crowd, her scores and all the other divers, Young zeroed in on her three remaining dives.

“I was excited that I had three of my favorite dives coming up,” she said.

Going into the finals, Young trailed Camas senior Cierra Mantz by .15 of a point. Young pulled ahead for good by nailing the first of her final three dives — a forward double pike.

She essentially clinched the title on her 10th dive, creating such a point spread that all she needed from the judges on her last dive were threes or better.

“After I hit my front double, I was a lot more relaxed,” Young said. “I was able to pretend it was practice and hit the rest.”

Young secured her runaway victory by averaging a staggering 43.5 points on her final three dives, eight points higher than her average through eight preliminary rounds.

“She was able to stay clear and focused,” Shoreline District dive coach Keela Carter said. “She had three of her best dives (remaining) and she pulled them off.”

Issaquah freshman Jessie Snowden finished a distant second with 370.35 points and Mantz, one of only four seniors to qualify for the finals, dropped to third place with 368.15.

Young found it difficult to resist the temptation of keeping an eye on Mantz, Snowden and the rest of her competition, in addition to concentrating on each of her own dives.

“It’s hard not to watch everyone’s scores and everyone’s dives and compare,” Young said. “But it’s better if you don’t.”

“For a young athlete it’s real easy to watch everybody else … and let that overwhelm you,” added Carter.

The toughest part about competing at state for Young — who practices regularly at King County Aquatic Center with her club team — was “all the expectations” she was dealing with as the top returning diver from last year’s meet.

“Everyone was asking me if I was going to get first. Everyone was talking about it,” Young said. “I don’t think they really understood what state was. It was really nerve-wracking.”

And in the end, gratifying.

Young’s title was the first by a Shorecrest diver — boy or girl — and the first win for the Scots at state since Sara Suhadolnik claimed the 50-yard freestyle at the 1989 Class 4A meet.

Carter sees more championships in Young’s future.

“I expect her scores to go up. She’ll be a defending champion for the next two years,” Carter said.

“She’s going to get stronger, she’s going to get some bigger dives and she’s going to feel more confident with her diving.”

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