NEENAH – He keeps putting up dazzling numbers on the diving board, but Matt Wilke isn’t all that impressed with his accomplishments.
He sees ordinary in the extraordinary 500-plus scores he consistently delivers.
What would give the Appleton North/East standout a “wow” moment would be winning a WIAA state diving championship, and Wilke will go after it next Saturday following another stellar performance at Friday’s Division 1 sectional at Neenah High School.
Wilke compiled a 516.25 score to easily win the 10-diver competition. Neenah’s Evan Bredesen was a distant second at 388.90, while Appleton North/East’s Jackson Tutt was third at 373.30.
Wilke automatically qualified for the state diving championships at the University of Wisconsin-Natatorium. Bredesen and Tutt both stand a decent chance of making the state event as extra qualifiers, which will be added by the WIAA based on the top non-winning scores.
It was the second-straight sectional title for Wilke, who surpassed his 2016 winning sectional score of 512.75. His personal best this season is a 539.80, which has been exceeded only by Monona Grove’s Henry Carman (561.35) — one of only two divers to best Wilke in competition this year.
“Overall, I feel pretty good about my score,” said Wilke an Appleton East senior. “I thought I had a pretty average meet, but you don’t want to peak before you get to state. The big thing in diving is aiming for consistent dives and I felt I was pretty consistent today.”
Wilke placed fourth at last year’s state meet with a 466.40 score and was eighth as a sophomore. This year he is one of the top contenders to claim the gold medal.
“I definitely want to get first this year. I’m really hoping,” Wilke said. “Scoring at state is definitely harder. I figure if I can get in the 500s, maybe around 515, I can pull it off.
“I’m going to have to be on top of my game and mentally ready.”
Bredesen said that one of Wilke’s strengths is his ability to adjust on the dive.
“He can spin really fast and can make a lot of good coming out of a bad start,” Bredesen said. “He’s able to correct things and really react to what’s happening on the dive. If it doesn’t start the way he planned it, he can fix it.”
Bredesen was pleased with his second-place finish.
“Jackson Tutt and I have been really close in our scores this season, and my goal for this meet was to beat him out for second,” Bredesen said. “I think I have a pretty good chance of getting to state.”
Wilke, Bredesen and Tutt are club teammates in the non-high school season for the Fox Valley dive team.
“We’re all friends and diving is kind of a social sport,” Bredesen said. “You want to win, but everyone is super friendly. You want to do well, but you want the other guys to do well, too.”
1, Matt Wilke, Appleton North/East 516.25; 2, Evan Bredesen, Neenah 388.90; 3, Jackson Tutt, Appleton North/East 373.30; 4, Brock Kovacic, Sheboygan South 347.10; 5, Nicholas Blando, Oshkosh North/Lourdes 293.90; 6, Grant Lattery, Oshkosh North/Lourdes 283.55; 7, Nick O’Brien, Appleton West/Kimberly 278.30; 8, Zack Milos, Oshkosh North/Lourdes 257.05; 9, Carson Swanstrom, Appleton West/Kimberly 256.20; 10, Nick Pieper, Fond du Lac 226.20.
Tim Froberg: 920-993-7183 or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @twfroberg