MINNEAPOLIS -- Most of us would never consider climbing up on a board, bouncing high in the air and diving into a pool in front of a few thousand people.
Shaun Kennedy may be too young to realize the pressure that can put on an individual. He just might have ice pumping through his veins.
The Brainerd Warriors freshman, undaunted by the pressure and by his peers, dove his way to a fifth-place finish in the Class AA state meet Saturday night at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Kennedy accumulated 348.55 points in the 2-day competition to nail down one of the highest state finishes by a Warrior diver.
St. Cloud Tech's Garrett Ewers, the 3-time Section 8AA champion, scored 414.75 points to win the state title. Kennedy was runner-up to Ewers in the section.
"I was nervous but I was happy I could pull up into the medal placing (top eight) and get all-state," the 5-foot-7, 117-pound Kennedy said.
Kennedy was the youngest of the eight divers on the podium during the awards ceremony. Four seniors placed higher.
"I'm really proud of how Shaun handled the pressure," Warriors diving coach Owen Trout said. "He came from making the cuts to knowing he had a better degree of difficulty on the second half of his diving list. We had a plan for his come-from-behind list. We saved some of his higher degree of difficulty dives until (Saturday) night."
Kennedy was 16th in the prelims and ninth in the semifinals before moving up four places on the final day.
"Our strategy worked," Trout said. "Shaun dove well but he has lots more points in him. He didn't score anywhere near where he's capable of scoring. He could have finished second behind Ewers. I don't think Shaun hit one dive in his 11 the way he would have liked to."
Trout said the atmosphere surrounding a state meet can distract a competitor, particularly a young diver.
"There's a little different set of rules, different ambience, a different format," he said. "You get caught up in a waiting game. That plays on your psyche more than in a single-day meet. It's tough on all the boys, yet it's part of the competition."
Trout said the unknown aspects of a state meet didn't seem to faze Kennedy.
"If you never made the trip down here you never know how well you can do," Trout said. "Sometimes that's good, going in with blind faith. Sometimes the unknown can be overwhelming for some kids. Shaun's got a strong head. He handled it well."
Kennedy will be the highest-finishing returning diver in the state next season. The 11 divers who placed below him all are underclassmen.
"I'm hoping to do better next year," Kennedy said. "I have to get some new dives and a higher degree of difficulty."
Class AA finals
Diving -- 1-Garrett Ewers (St. Cloud Tech) 414.75 points, 5-Shaun Kennedy (BRD) 348.55
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