It came down to the last dive.
Lafayette Jeff senior Dustin Miller was sitting comfortably in second place with only Hamilton Southeastern’s Cody Caldron left to dive.
Caldron performed a dive so impressive, the IUPUI Natatorium erupted louder than it had all day Saturday. His score of 52 points moved him from completely off the leaderboard to second place and pushed Miller down to third place.
“I don’t know whether I should be psyched I got third, or be a little bummed that I was so close,” Miller said. “I went out and performed every dive as well as I possibly could have.”
Miller is a natural on the one-meter board. He was having fun, smiling as he returned from a successful dive, waving to the crowd, and at one point showing off a complicated handshake with one of his teammates. What’s more, he’s humble and gives credit where it’s due.
“I had a great day personally,” Miller said. “There were just a couple guys out here that did a little better than me. The best guy won.”
Joshua Ardnt of LaPorte defended his state championship with a score of 484.00. Miller finished at 461.80.
Miller scored the only points at the meet for Lafayette Jeff, which finished 27th with 16 points. Chesterton won the meet with a total score of 238.5 points.
Miller’s dives got better throughout the day. His first dive scored 35.70. He then received 52.70 for an inward two-and-a-half. His final dive, a reverse one-and-a-half, scored 54.60.
“He really hit the bottom three,” Lafayette Jeff coach Deana Sotelo said enthusiastically. “We’re happy with the medal. Would’ve liked a little more, but he did good.”
Last year, Miller placed 13th in the state. In the offseason he trained with the Boiler Diving Academy at Purdue University, spending more than five hours at the pool each day.
His improvement didn’t go unnoticed, and Miller signed with Florida State. He is excited for the next chapter in his career, but knows it will not be the same as high school diving.
“It’s mixed feelings. It’s awesome that it’s going onto the next thing, but it is kind of sad,” Miller said about moving onto college. “It’s never going to be the same type of environment again.”
Miller is the first Jeff diver to finish in the top three at state.
His days as a Broncho may be over, but his career is just beginning. As he walked toward the podium to receive his bronze medal, Miller put his fist in the air and yelled, “Go Seminoles!”
Miller wasn’t the only Tippecanoe County athlete to score points.
West Lafayette’s Brandon Colonis improved upon his seed and finished sixth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 51.34 seconds. Combined with diver Logan Sotelo’s 12th place finish, the Red Devils scored 18 points to finish 26th.
Central Catholic junior Jake Thomas finished sixth in the consolation heat of the 200 individual medley and 14th place overall with a time of 1:55.87.