Clay White didn't want the highlight of his final high school diving meet to be the warm-up.
After finishing 16th in the Division I state meet as a freshman and ninth as a junior, White, a senior on the Pickerington North boys swimming and diving team, was determined to save his best for last in the state meet Feb. 20 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. That's something that hasn't always come easy for White.
"My coach (Jen White) says I always win the warm-up," he said. "I pull off my best dives, then once I get to the meet I tense up. (On Feb. 20), I felt as good in the finals as I possibly could have. I was relaxed and calm."
White was fourth of 24 competitors at state with 511.15 points, behind two-time champion Stephen Romanik (565.1) of Macedonia Nordonia. White said an inward 1 1/2 on his final dive clinched central Ohio taking the second, third and fourth spots in the meet.
White is Ohio State Diving Club teammates with runner-up Cameron Thatcher of Olentangy Liberty (558.55) and third-place finisher David Dinsmore (547) of New Albany. Like Romanik, White -- who was third (517.45) in the district meet Feb. 15 to clinch the last of three state-qualifying berths -- will dive at Ohio State.
"This year I had to really concentrate on the technical aspects of my diving," White said. "I feel like the last few years, I've been hit or miss. I wanted to be concise and consistent. This is such a great payoff."
Senior Andrew Martin capped his prep career Feb. 22 with a fifth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (21.08 seconds) and 13th place in the 100 free (46.81).
It was the third consecutive state appearance for Martin, who will swim at Ashland University.
"I felt pretty good. I gave it everything I had. You can't ask for anything more than that," Martin said. "I felt a little bit better (at district), but overall I'm not upset with it.
"This is definitely bittersweet. It goes both ways. I am ready for a break, but it'll be sad leaving behind all the memories and all of that."
Martin also was on the 200 free relay that finished 23rd (1:29.7) with freshman Nate Campbell and seniors Justin Mathews and Durkin Ross.
North was 18th (33) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (255) as 61 teams scored.
Martin led North to state by finishing third in the 50 free (20.93) and fifth in the 100 free (46.59) in the district meet at Ohio State, earning at-large berths in both events. The Panthers were 11th (85) at district behind champion St. Charles (304) as 25 teams scored.
North's girls were 16th (31) behind champion Upper Arlington (522.5) as 24 teams scored. The best individual finish for the girls came from freshman Abby Grube, who was 16th in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.98).
Both teams were third at a sectional Feb. 8 at UA. The boys scored 124 points to finish behind champion St. Charles (340.5) as 11 teams scored, and the girls scored 125 but finished well behind champion UA (494) as 13 teams scored.
Martin's championships in the 50 free (21.89) and 100 free (48.9), and White's win in diving (497.5), powered the boys to their fourth consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship Jan. 25 at Thomas Worthington. North scored 330 points to finish ahead of Grove City (232), Lancaster (211), Gahanna (209), Pickerington Central (132) and Reynoldsburg (27).
The girls were third (221) behind Gahanna (354.5) and Reynoldsburg (222) and ahead of Lancaster (157.5), Central (135) and Grove City (85).