In just two short years, Brainerd's Aaron Thelen went from a kid who didn't know a diving board from an ironing board to a state-caliber diver for the Warriors.
Thelen decided to go out for the Warriors swimming and diving team as a junior and under the tutelage of diving coach Owen Trout, the senior was all-conference and qualified for this year's state meet.
At Thursday's Class 2A state diving preliminary round at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis, Thelen finished 28th with a five-dive total score of 112.65 and missed moving on to the semifinals.
"There's a cutoff after the first five dives so there's no margin for error," Trout said. "If you miss or come up short on one dive it's easy to press to make up for those lost points. Aaron had a good list of dives, it just didn't happen."
Trout loaded Thelen's first five dives with ample degree of difficulty in order to try and make it into the top 16. On his first dive Thelen scored 6s across the board. He followed that up with a subpar second dive but scored 5s on his third dive. Thelen was right on the bubble going into his final dive but scored only 2s.
"Aaron got terrific height and rotated nicely on his last dive," said Trout. "When he kicked out he had so much bottom under him he couldn't drop it down. He knew he was only a couple of points out of being in the top 16 and he was going for it.
"I commend him for being aggressive but that was one situation where adrenaline got the best of him."
Thelen didn't hesitate as he attributed his success to the sound coaching of Trout.
"I've improved quite a bit over the past two years," Thelen said, "and that's because of wonderful coaching. I came into this not knowing anything about diving so good coaching really helped me."
Class 2A state diving prelims
The results: Brainerd's Aaron Thelen posted a score of 112.65 and finished in 28th place for the Warriors at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center Thursday.
Next: The Warrior swimmers take over as they compete in the preliminary round Friday.
Trout admits that he would love to have another year with Thelen on the board and was impressed with how the senior took to instruction.
"Aaron turned out to be a real good fit in diving," Trout said. "His success is a testament to his coachability and his work ethic. He bought in to what I was trying to teach him. He knew that in order to get better he had to push the difficulty.
"Aaron had his share of flops. But diving is one of those sports where if you don't succeed you get up and do it again."
Class 2A diving preliminary results
1-Sam Dalsin (Lakeville) 170.80, 2-Chris Larson (Maple Grove) 168.80, 3-Dillon Hudalla (Forest Lake) 165.80, 4-Curt Kempton (Owatonna) 161.95, 5-David Hawkinson (Prior Lake) 159.20, 28-Aaron Thelen (Brainerd) 112.65
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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