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02-27-04: Knapke starts slow but finishes strong

Celina junior takes 13th-place at state


CANTON — The state swimming and diving championships kicked off in Canton on Thursday, and Celina’s Sara Knapke got things started for area athletes as she competed in the Division II one-meter diving.
In her second trip to the state championships, Knapke was able to finish in 13th place with a score of 240.70, despite a rough start to the competition.
The Celina junior was actually in last place after her opening dive, and was sitting in 21st after her second dive. Only the top 20 divers advance to the semifinals.
The rough start may have led Knapke to think about last year’s state meet when she was unable to make it through the preliminary round, but if she was bothered by any such thoughts she didn’t show it as she quickly bounced back to easily make the semifinals.
Knapke jumped up 10 places to 14th after her fifth
dive, and held that same spot to qualify for the finals after her eighth dive.
“Last year I was really nervous, but I was able to come in this year and relax and just have fun,” Knapke said. “I did pretty good, my first two dives weren’t too good, but after that I was able to dive pretty well.”
Celina coach Jane Fleck said it was a wonderful way for Knapke to cap what’s been a great season.
“She started out not great, but she kept getting stronger and we were real excited for her. She stayed real consistent and kept getting better,” Fleck said. “I think she was real happy with how it turned out and she left feeling pretty good today, so yeah we were
real proud of her.”
Knapke said while she was pleased with her performance yesterday, she added she felt she could have moved up a little higher in the standings.
“It wasn’t my best diving of the year, I’ve dove a little better in the past,” she said.
Knapke said she plans on using that as motivation to help her dive even better in the future.
Obviously a return trip to state as a senior is one
of those goals, but Knapke hopes to be one of the girls standing during the awards ceremony next year.
“I’d definitely like to make eighth or better next year, and at least get into the top 10,” Knapke said. “It feels good, but I know I can improve and I’ve already started setting some goals for next season.”
Knapke plans to keep practicing even though the season is over, and competing as well, as she, like many area swimmers, are involved in the YMCA season.
The YMCA season runs simultaneously with high school competition, but it also runs year round.
Knapke said the only month that she gets much of a break is in August.
Laura Rings from the Columbus school for girls took home the Division II championship with a score of 330.55.
More area athletes look to make an impact at the state championships today, as Celina’s Kelly and Amanda Mallory will hit the pool along with Coldwater’s Tyler Post at 9 a.m. for preliminary
swimming. Finals will follow at 6 p.m.


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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822


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