MINNEAPOLIS -- Shaun Kennedy appears to have the poise of a more experienced diver.
The Brainerd Warriors' freshman is in ninth place following the semifinals of the diving competition Thursday at the Class AA state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Kennedy racked up 236.1 points to advance to Saturday's final round which begins at 6 p.m. Park of Cottage Grove's Paul Cusick leads with 295.0 followed by St. Cloud Tech's Garrett Ewers with 277.35.
''I was a little nervous,'' Kennedy conceded. ''I still have three years to do it. I was just trying to have fun.''
Kennedy is aiming for a top eight finish, which would earn him all-state distinction. Warriors diving coach Owen Trout believes Kennedy is capable of attaining that milestone.
''Shaun keeps saying, and I hope to get that out of his head, that he still has three more years,'' Trout said. ''He's got an opportunity in front of him. He's a legitimate top five finisher. If he dives well (Saturday) and gets a few breaks he could be top five. He should be top eight for sure.
''He's got enough degree of difficulty and I feel good about his last three dives (Saturday). He needs a chance to relax and get away from it. Not diving again until Saturday will help him. That will separate the week, the excitement, the change of schedule.
''He's only a freshman but he can handle it. It's tough to get up there 11 times and perform in front of a crowd. It gets hot and there's a long wait.''
Kennedy's senior teammate, Jake Carson, just missed making the cut. With the field trimmed to the top 20 individuals after five dives Carson finished with 132.5 points, which placed him 21st.
''It's a little disappointing,'' Carson said, ''especially since it's my senior year but I made state, which was my goal this season.
''I expected to do better but it's a tough meet. There are a lot of good competitors. I was happy to participate. Last year I missed state by two points. It was fun to come here this year and dive with some of the best.''
Carson missed the cut to 20 divers by only two points.
''Jake realized it's a different level you have to rise to,'' Trout said. ''The scoring is always more competitive. The judges tend to be more stringent on little breaks. I think Jake is feeling some of the effects of that.''
Trout said Carson, who was the Central Lakes Conference runner-up and placed third in Section 8AA, was bothered by a cold.
''I could tell when I saw him in the morning he looked a little weak,'' Trout said. ''I was hoping today would help him. But that's no excuse. He didn't execute his dives like he could.
''I think Jake's a little stunned right now. He expected to make it to the final day. He certainly had the ability to do that. He was just not as polished as he has been.''
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