Athletes in more mainstream sports such as football, basketball and baseball are known to welcome an offseason growth spurt.

Diving is no different — at least in the case of Franklin High School sophomore Gauge Creech, who in December won his first Johnson County title with a 378.55 score.

Now standing 5-foot-7 and weighing 120 pounds, Creech was noticeably shorter (5-3) and just a tad lighter (110) when finishing second to Mooresville’s Ashton Johnson at last season’s Franklin Sectional.

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“It changes everything because you rotate a lot faster off the board,” Creech said of his added height. “For me, I can flip a lot faster, twist faster and get higher off the board. Some of the dives that were more difficult for me, they’re easier now.”

This includes the front double pike and forward two-and-a-half tuck, dives Creech makes part of his competition repertoire.

Creech’s debut varsity campaign included placing fourth at the Bloomington North Regional and being one of only four ninth-graders qualified for the State Finals.

Long before high school, Creech’s family belonged to the community pool in Franklin. This allowed Gauge and younger sister Eden to become more comfortable in the water at a young age.

By the time he reached sixth grade, Gauge noticed a sign-up sheet for those interested in being part of the Grizzly Cubs’ middle school team.

Creech could have swam.

However, diving fit his personality better.

“You can’t be afraid or you won’t be willing to try new dives,” Creech said. “If you stick with the same dives, you’ll never get better.”

Ditto the same diving technique. It’s here, Creech benefits from the mentoring of third-year Grizzly Cubs diving coach Ty Hoffman. The two will work together this weekend during the annual Mid-State Conference meet at Decatur Central.

“I started coaching Gauge at the beginning of his eighth-grade year,” Hoffman said. “When I first started coaching him he had a solid base, but there were some mechanics we needed to instill. Where your arms are at. Body position overall. Just slight adjustments that make a huge difference.”

Creech, who works to maintain his 3.9 grade-point average in the classroom, is and always has been a most attentive audience.

“Gauge has put in a ton of work over the past two seasons and is making great strides. He’s one of those kids who is a sponge,” Hoffman said. “He takes a suggestion or coaching tip and immediately translates it to the board. That’s pretty rare.”

After the conference meet, the Grizzly Cubs are off until hosting a three-way meet against Greenwood and Mooresville on Jan. 14.

The Creech file

Name: Gauge Creech

Age: 15

Born: Franklin

Family: Parents Chris and Tiffany; sister Eden, 12

Favorite TV show: “The Walking Dead”

Favorite food: Hot Cheetos

Favorite movie: “Step Brothers”

Favorite athlete: David Boudia

Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.