STATE DIVING: St. Marys' Taylor finishes 15th in state

CANTON — St. Marys sophomore Madison Taylor made the most of her opportunity at the state diving championships, making it past both of the cuts and finishing 15th in the Division II girls competition at Canton McKinley’s venerable C.T. Branin Natatorium on Wednesday morning.

“I just feel honored to make it through all the cuts with it being my first year, it’s just awesome,” said Taylor, draped in a towel on the deck of the pool after the completion of the more than three-hour competition.

After all, Taylor knows what it’s like to have the opportunity taken from her. After a scoring snafu at the district tournament a season ago kept her from taking her rightful spot at state, Taylor dedicated herself to making sure there was no question about a trip to state as a sophomore.

“Last year was heartbreaking,” Taylor said. “Being second at district and making sure I was going to state, I proved them wrong. I came back from it and it didn’t affect me.”

“This year she made a statement,” St. Marys head swim and dive coach Amy Wenning said on Wednesday.

Taylor finished second at the district meet at Bowling Green State University and followed it up with a resilient performance in Canton. After her second dive didn’t go well, she bounced back with one of her best of the day.

Wenning thinks that’s the major difference between Taylor as a freshman and now as a sophomore.

“Last year if she had a bad dive, it was difficult for her to come back from it,” Wenning said. “Last year we thought she’d make it to state for sure and she struggled a bit at district and then there was the scoring situation. This year she’s kept herself together mentally, and that’s the biggest thing. She also practices a lot with Carrie, our volunteer diving coach.”

Taylor thought she held up well in the chlorinated pressure box that the state swim and dive meet can become.

“When it gets down to the end it’s all nerves,” Taylor said. “But that’s just like any meet.”

Taylor finished the finals with a score of 335.7. Andrea Aquista won the state championship with a score of 419.25.

Taylor made 11 dives on the day, with her degrees of difficulty rating from 1.6 to 2.3. Wenning said Taylor added two dives to her routine that bumped up the level of difficulty for the state stage.

Taylor and her competitors shine in one of high school sports’ most unique competitions that balances strict technique and the harsh realities of judge’s instantaneous scoring with the artful dives that have all the precision of a gymnastics floor routine in a matter of seconds off a diving board.

A panel of six judges scores each dive, using divisors based on the dive’s degree of difficulty.

Now that Taylor has this year’s experience under belt, she thinks it will help for possible future visits to state.

“A lot,” Taylor said.