Center Grove’s Sarah Kempf and Greenwood’s Faith Jackson saved their best dives for last, finishing second and third, respectively, in the IHSAA girls diving regional at Bloomington North on Tuesday.
Kempf, a senior, stood in fourth place after the first five dives but closed on a tear to total 391.35 points. Jackson, a junior, posted two of her three best dives over her final four attempts and finished with 381.45 points.
The top eight finishers each qualified for the state meet at IUPUI on Saturday.
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Kempf averaged just over 30 points on her first three dives then posted her best on her fourth attempt with a score of 44.10. She got stronger as the day wore on. Her final dive of 36.45 helped push her past Jackson for runner-up honors.
“I did start out slow and didn’t do exactly as well as I hoped for,” Kempf said. “But it wasn’t bad. I’m still in the state meet. I just needed to make the top eight.”
Jackson mirrored her Johnson County rival by picking up a score of 43.70 on her third dive and staying above 30 from that point. Her final dive of 39.10 was her second-highest of the meet.
“I definitely didn’t get my PR and I didn’t dive my best, but all that matters today was getting top eight to get to Saturday,” Jackson said.
Neither diver was going to touch Mooresville’s Sadie Mills, who dominated the meet from start to finish. The sophomore finished with an 11-dive total of 407.00 points, nearly 16 points ahead of Kempf.
“We have a lot of talented girls (in this regional). We have a really talented state in general,” Jackson said. “Our sectional is really hard and we went 1-2-3 today. I’m really proud of our girls.”
Rounding out the eight state qualifiers were Hailey Brown of Jennings County; Maggie Gregory of Columbus East; Valorie Marx of Evansville Reitz; Colleen Ray of Castle; and Anya Davenport of Floyd Central.
The diving preliminaries at the state finals will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, with the finals set to start at 1 p.m. Both local divers are hopeful for strong showings.
“I’m excited. I’m hoping to get to finals,” Kempf said. “I just want to be able to compete in all 11 dives and have as much fun as I can.”
“I need to get there, calm my nerves and do what Faith Jackson does,” Jackson said with a smile. “Because at the state meet it’s a different kind of environment; it’s bigger and there are more people. I just need to go, get the experience under my belt and hopefully prepare better for senior year.”