Stewart Spanbauer’s final high school dive was a state championship winner.
The Summit Country Day senior’s inward two-and-a-half capped a final-round score of 458.85 in the boys’ Division II state finals Wednesday evening at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton and the North Carolina State recruit became the first state champion diver for the program.
“I was absolutely thrilled,” Spanbauer said. “I spent all year working on it, my team spent all year working on it and everyone I compete against spent all year working for this goal. I was thrilled to be there competing. Everyone there today dove so well. It was a really awesome feeling to be up there with everyone who dove so well today.”
Spanbauer, an Anderson Township resident, bested Kettering Alter senior Trent Hagenbuch’s second-place score of 456.5 with his boldest dive of the day — one he just recently learned.
“Trent had just done an amazing dive and I knew that this dive had to be the best I’ve ever done,” Spanbauer said. “It was an inward two-and-a-half, which I had just learned within the last month. So it’s a hit or miss dive. I had a really good start and it worked out for me. It was a really good dive right when I needed it.”
The inward two-and-a-half carries a degree of difficulty of 3.1, which is one of the hardest dives, according to Summit Country Day diving coach Lori Rapp.
“Stewart was very consistent,” Rapp said. “I’ve seen him dive better, but in a meet like this, he was spot on. In this sport, it’s all about consistency. He did 11 good dives today. The winner does 11 good dives and the second-place diver does 10. That’s just how it is.”
Summit Country Day freshman Mitch Reinhard finished No. 17 and sophomore Emma Hellman was the top local finisher at the girls’ Division II diving finals Wednesday morning, placing eighth with a final-round score of 385.85.
“I looked at our athletic director Greg Dennis who made the trip and our swimming coach Susan Maxwell, and I said, ‘it’s a good day to be a Knight,'” Rapp said. “We’ve never had two or even three divers qualify for state. It was a good day.”
Allison Brophy placed second in the girls’ Division II competition last year as a senior, with Spanbauer fourth in the boys’ after finishing seventh as a sophomore.
Thursday topped those days.
“They did amazing,” Maxwell said. “With three divers going to state, we are just so proud of them. Every single one of them, and Stewart in particular, they are just the salt of the Earth. Having Stewart as the leader this year to be the senior and having Emma and Mitch kind of coming up in his shadow, it’s just done such great things for Summit diving and our program.”
Spanbauer topped the preliminary round with a score of 201.05 and led after the semifinals with a score of 311.
Wednesday’s win also avenged Spanbauer’s second-place finish to Hagenbuch at the Division II Southwest Ohio District Championship Feb. 19 at Miami University’s Corwin M. Nixon Natatorium.
This time, Spanbauer was just better.
“He dove really well, but had a mistake in the beginning of the meet that just opened the doors for me,” Spanbauer said. “I was able to just stay steady the whole meet and that allowed me to do well. But he dove really well. I dove against him the last four years and it’s just been fantastic diving against him.”
Indian Hill freshman Noah Vigran finished sixth with a final-round score of 404.2 and Mariemont sophomore Charles Schooler was 11th with a score of 358.6. Talawanda senior Ethan Coffin was 15th with a 343.1 in the final round. Wyoming sophomore Charlie Donnelly was No. 19.
Indian Hill’s Kara Korengel was No. 10 in the girls’ competition with a final-round score of 380 and Wyoming’s Emma Weber was No. 16 with a final-round score of 357.7.
The state meet will continue Thursday at C.T. Branin Natatorium with the Division I girls’ diving competition at 9 a.m. and the girls’ and boys’ Division II swimming preliminaries at 5 p.m. On Friday, the Division I girls’ and boys swimming preliminaries will begin at 9 a.m. and the girls’ and boys Division II finals will begin at 5 p.m.
The meet will conclude Saturday with the boys’ Division I diving competition at 9 a.m. and the girls’ and boys’ swimming finals at 4 p.m.