MINNEAPOLIS -- With the strain that Shaun Kennedy had to endure, no diver deserves to be a state champion more than the Brainerd Warrior senior.
Ranked No. 1 for 11 dives for virtually the entire season, scoring the most points of any diver in a section meet, and sitting in first place after Thursday's preliminary round, the pressure was squarely on Kennedy's broad shoulders to win the Class 2A title Saturday night at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Kennedy responded by setting a 2A state meet record, amassing 526.20 points on his way to the title. He shattered the previous state meet record by more than 45 points and finished just 6.5 shy of the all-time state meet record.
"I'm so happy," said Kennedy, only the sixth diver since 1924 to score more than 500 points at state. "I've been working for this for three years. Being ranked first, and having to come through, I've just been telling myself this is the year and it happened."
Kennedy became the first swimming or diving state champion in the history of the Warrior boys' program.
"I wasn't even thinking about that," Kennedy said, "but I'm very happy I did it. I was just thinking I wanted to get first."
Kennedy entered the finals with 368.2 points, 19.6 ahead of Nate Kim of St. Paul Central, the eventual state runner-up. With just three dives to perform Saturday, Kennedy outscored Kim 158 to 147.75 to earn a trip to the top step of the podium.
"The biggest key for us was getting Shaun out in front," Warriors diving coach Owen Trout said. "We had an awesome (dive) list for him to set himself up to be in the lead, and he was. He proved he can dive from the lead as well as come from behind.
"I would have thought there would be a lot less pressure for him and me for having the lead going into the last day but actually it was probably more nerve-wracking to have the lead. He nailed his dives. He was a little fat on his last one, but overall I was really happy."
Kennedy placed fifth at state as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and third last year. He was one of five divers returning to state who had finished in the top eight last year. He conceded he was anxious, with a day off between the prelims and finals.
"The nerves were dragged out for a couple days," he said. "I was getting pretty nervous."
Brainerd eighth-grader Josh Olson also appeared a bit anxious. Olson finished 15th Saturday with 296.85 points.
"I was too nervous," Olson said. "It just wasn't there."
Olson entered the finals with 242.55 points, earning just 54.3 on his final three dives.
"Josh had an outstanding first day," Trout said. "The guy who beat him at sections (Moorhead's Kevin Chamberlin) Josh blew him away.
"Josh started out his first six dives just nailing them. Then he had a little weaker part of his list and fell from fifth to ninth after the prelims but he was within 2-3 points of making it on the podium.
"In his last couple dives it's not that his dives were bad, he just overtwisted. At state they will nail you on any kind of overtwist."
"I give a lot of credit to Josh," Kennedy said. "He had an excellent meet. His last few dives weren't quite as strong, but for an eighth-grader he did an awesome job."
So did Kennedy.
Class 2A swimming & diving state championships
200 medley relay -- 1, Eden Prairie, 1:36.56. 2, Apple Valley, 1:37.98. 3, Moorhead, 1:38.04. 4, Edina, 1:38.82. 5, Burnsville, 1:39.54. 6, Cretin-Derham Hall, 1:41.05. 7, Lakeville, 1:41.11. 8, Mounds View, 1:42.28.
9, Wayzata, 1:41.72. 10, Willmar, 1:42.71. 11, Minnetonka, 1:42.76. 12, Irondale, 1:42.89. 13, Alexandria, 1:43.64. 14, Brainerd (Matt Schmitz, Scott Antolak, Miles Krueger, Andrew Mehr), 1:43.93. 15, Faribault, 1:44.03. 16, Armstrong, 1:44.40.
One-meter diving -- 1, Shaun Kennedy, Brainerd, 526.20 points. 2, Nate Kim, St. Paul Central, 496.35. 3, Kevin McLean, Eagan, 455.10. 4, Justin Reardon, Bloomington Jefferson, 421.10. 5, Paul Rademacher, Rochester Mayo, 395.80. 6, Joey Skeate-Rivet, Mounds View, 347.20. 7, Chris Micek, Minnetonka, 336.45. 8, Ben Fjellanger, Rochester JM, 332.70.
9, Ross Eiden, Rosemount, 324.95. 10, Peter Mueller, Eden Prairie, 318.25. 11, Aaron Gloege, Wayzata, 314.60. 12, Nate Jimerson, Eastview, 308.00. 13, Bryan Poling, Eden Prairie, 305.60. 14, Sam Chaussee, Forest Lake, 303.35. 15, Josh Olson, Brainerd, 296.85. 16, Alex Kim, Mounds View, 286.60.
100 breaststroke -- 1, Ronnie Hehn, Moorhead, 58.04. 2, Griff Moodie, Edina, 59.16. 3, Mark Solfelt, Eden Prairie, 59.56. 4, Ben Wareham, StP Highland Park, 59.71. 5, Mitch Hoglin, Burnsville, 1:01.78. 6, Patrick Hubert, Faribault, 1:01.96. 7, Ray Nelson, Willmar, 1:02.06. 8, Andrew Chadbourn, Mounds View, 1:02.71.
9, Colton Lynner, Edina, 1:01.70. 10, Tyler Bonewell, Burnsville, 1:02.24. 11, Scott Antolak, Brainerd, 1:02.43. 12, Jeff Goering, Burnsville, 1:02.60. 13, Cale Birkelo, Irondale, 1:02.77. 14, Spencer Kelly, Edina, 1:02.85. 15, Brian Johnson, Rosemount, 1:03.34. 16, Mike Weslander, St. Cloud Apollo, 1:03.75.
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