Olivia Lynch admitted feeling some pressure as the top seed entering the Division I state girls diving meet Feb. 20 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Once the Olentangy Liberty junior got a few dives under her belt, that pressure dissipated and Lynch relied on the experience gained from 11 years of competition — including the adversity of four wrist surgeries in the past five years — to take control of the meet and win her first state championship.
Lynch took the lead for good in the sixth of 11 rounds and pulled away by scoring 37.8, 46.8 and 44 points on her final three dives to amass 428.55 points, well ahead of runner-up Sarah Krasinski of Medina Highland (398.65).
“It took a few dives to get into the rhythm of the meet and forget about everything else. Once I hit a few dives, I felt pretty confident,” said Lynch, who hit an inward pike in the sixth round and a reverse 1 1/2 pike in the 10th. “I tend to practice those two dives a lot and I felt comfortable with them. After my inward dive, I felt pretty confident. The rest of my dives, I’d hit.”
Lynch’s win gave central Ohio its third diving champion in two days.
On Feb. 19, Wellington’s George Callanan and Worthington Christian’s Lena Morgan swept the Division II boys and girls championships.
The Division I boys diving competition, in which central Ohio divers hold the top three seeds, will be Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium.
Upper Arlington’s Julia Fidanza finished sixth (376.4) and New Albany’s Emma Skinner was 13th (340.95).
Fidanza, a Princeton recruit who was making her third state appearance, was in the middle of a tight pack that saw the fourth- through eighth-place finishers separated by just 3.75 points.
“I knew we were all capable of going out there (and winning). Anybody can have a good day,” said Fidanza, who placed third at state last year and eighth as a sophomore. “I am proud of all of us (from the area).”
Skinner, a sophomore and first-time state competitor, hung in the top 10 for the first several rounds and closed with her best dive of the day, an inward 1/2 pike that scored 39.6 points.
“I thought I ended on a really high note. I’m happy I made all the cuts. That was one of my biggest goals,” Skinner said. “This gives me a lot of motivation. I know what I have to do to make the podium next year. Scoring was a little more strict here than at district, but that makes me make sure I pay attention to detail. You have to do that when there’s so much close competition.”
Gahanna junior Ashleigh Provan, a first-time qualifier, did not compete because of illness.