Samantha Young spent her entire sophomore season chasing 400 points before finally fulfilling her goal at the state championships.
The Shorecrest junior diver accomplished the feat with ease last week and surpassed the career-best point total that earned her a Class 3A/2A state diving title a year ago.
Not once, but twice.
Young won the first of four District 1 state-qualifying 11-dive meets Oct. 1 at Kamiak High School and took first at the Mukilteo Invitational the next day at King County Aquatic Center.
At the district meet Young’s school-record score of 462.9 points was more than 80 points higher than the second-place diver and more than 50 points better than her winning mark at last year’s state meet.
Shoreline District dive coach Keela Carter wasn’t shocked by the titanic point total.
“She could have done it last year, but she was a bundle of nerves,” Carter said. “This year she’s got a much better grip in that regard.”
Young agreed that her nerves have lessened.
“I’m more familiar with all the pools, the boards and the different coaches and divers,” she said. “I’m a lot more comfortable this year.”
Carter attributes Young’s improved marks and stronger mental approach to an active offseason schedule. After she turned 16, Young moved up to the more challenging 18-and-under age division for her club team.
“She’s going up against better competition. It’s healthy for her,” Carter said. “The biggest thing is she’s focusing more on the little details, like her body position on the board. She also has added bigger and better dives.”
More are on the way. Young is in the process of fine-tuning three or four dives that carry a higher degree of difficulty and could boost her scores.
“I have my dives down, but I need to be able to rip all of them in meets and not just at practice,” she said.
Young finished nearly 90 points ahead of the field at the Mukilteo Invitational with a score of 418.75. As the state meet approaches, Carter expects Young’s scores to continue to climb.
“She stands to break 500 points this year,” Carter said. “We’re only halfway through the season. She still has bigger dives she hasn’t used yet because she didn’t think they’re quite ready for competition.”
In just her second year of diving, Shorecrest senior Kristina Bendiksen clinched a return trip to state with a seventh-place score of 283.05 at the district meet.
Bendiksen didn’t qualify last season until the second and final 11-dive meet. This season divers have four opportunities to reach the state qualifying standards.
“Now I don’t have to stress about it,” Bendiksen said. “I can just have fun.”
Shorewood senior Kelsey Wright came up 12 points shy of the 4A state standard at the district meet with her fifth-place total of 313.1. Wright placed sixth at the Mukilteo Invite, two spots ahead of Bendiksen.