Some day, Shaun Kennedy hopes to be soaring through the air as the pilot of an aircraft.
For now, he's content to be doing twists, somersaults and back flips in the air as a diver for the Brainerd Warriors.
Kennedy's actions on a diving board the past few seasons have made him one of the state's best divers. He placed fifth in the Class 2A state meet as a freshman and fourth last year. Although the junior realizes moving into the top three will be a difficult task, he believes this might be the year he brings home the championship.
"I'm hoping at least to be in the top two," Kennedy said. "Hopefully, I will get the top spot and beat John Schmidt (of Stillwater) but there's a lot of tough competition down there."
Shaun Kennedy profile
Sport -- Diving
Year -- Junior
Age -- 16
Height -- 5-foot-10
Weight -- 160
Other sports -- Tennis
Grade-point average -- 4.0
Memorable sports achievement -- Taking sixth at Winter Nationals Diving Meet in Lubbock, Texas
Favorite subject -- Science, physics
Favorite food -- Tacos
Hobbies -- Photography
Future plans -- Attend college, study engineering, hoping to dive
Athlete he admires -- Former state champion Garrett Ewers of St. Cloud Tech
Parents -- Tracy and Lorie Kennedy
Schmidt is the defending 2A state champion. Kennedy, who dove with Schmidt on a club team at the University of Minnesota last summer, will go up against Schmidt and defending 1A state champion Doug Klein of Red Wing this weekend at the Hopkins Invitational.
"Shaun knows he's the top gun in the conference and section," Warriors diving coach Owen Trout said. "He's anticipating this matchup this weekend with the Class 1A and 2A state champions. In some ways this meet could be more difficult than the state meet."
Kennedy has been difficult for the competition to catch this season. He has finished first in all eight of the Warriors' dual meets, won the Brainerd and Bloomington Jefferson invitational titles and was second to Klein at the Minnesota Invitational.
"It felt good to win the Bloomington Jefferson Invitational," said Kennedy, a five-year varsity diver. "It was a City invite. It gets your name out there. There was some pretty good competition. I felt pretty good about pulling through and getting first place in that one."
Kennedy's name is out there. He dove virtually all of last summer with a Junior Olympics program in the Twin Cities and with a University of Minnesota club team. He qualified for regional, zone and national competitions, the latter of which was in Indianapolis.
This winter, Kennedy is ranked second in the state for six dives and fourth for 11 dives. He believes rankings can work both ways.
"Sometimes it's nice to be ranked up there to psych out other people and it gets your name around," he said. "When you're at the top, you feel more pressure because everyone else is gunning for you when you're ranked."
In addition, Kennedy broke his previous 6-dive school record with 291.55 points at the Grand Rapids Invitational Jan. 19. His total was also a Grand Rapids pool record that had been set a few weeks earlier by Schmidt.
"I kind of set it in my mind that I didn't want him to have the record up north," Kennedy said. "I put together a list that was solid, with fairly good degree of difficulty, but it was not my best. I focused real well and it all came together."
Everything has come together for Kennedy as his season has progressed.
"Initially, he expected to come out right where he left off last year," Trout said, "but you never do. Diving is like skiing or riding a bike. You still know how to do it, but you have to get back into it. He's quietly having a good season, although if you ask him, he would probably say it's been all right."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Mike Zauhar, boys' basketball, had 28 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals vs. Sartell.
Doug Ream, floor hockey, had a hat trick vs. Anoka-Hennepin.
Darren Clabo, swimming, won two events and was on a first-place relay vs. Rocori.
(Athlete of week is honored by the Brainerd Sports Boosters Club.)
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