The challenges Center Grove diver Maddie Gordon faces at today’s Bloomington North Regional are her own creation.
Three days removed from posting a sensational 504.30-point score in winning the sectional, the junior seeks a third consecutive IHSAA State Finals appearance.
Today’s competition presents the opportunity, with the invisible bar known as expectations officially raised.
“I’m pretty happy with my season so far. My goal was to break 500 points, and I finally did that,” said Gordon, who placed fifth at state in 2013 after taking seventh at the IUPUI Natatorium as a freshman. “But I don’t really focus on placings. I focus on doing my best.
“That’s what my parents have always told me, and I feel as I get older that it’s good to feel that way.”
It would be hard to find fault with such thinking. After all, Gordon’s score at the Franklin Sectional shattered her previous school record of 490.45, which was set Jan. 18 at the Whiteland Invitational.
“We’ve never had a score that high, so she was very excited and was just as ecstatic that all three of the girls made it to regional,” said Center Grove coach Jim Todd, referring to his program’s other divers, sophomore diver Rachel Smallwood and freshman Maddie Keeley. “We were very pleased.
“She did a super job. Maddie is a very talented diver who works very hard at it and deserves the accolades she receives.”
Among the optional dives Gordon performs in her 11-dive routine are the front two-and-a-half, an inward two, a back one-and-a-half, and her personal favorite, the inward one-and-a-half pike.
It’s a list she plans to eventually make more difficult, though not now.
“From sectional to state, you have to keep the same list,” Gordon said. “These are the dives I’ve pretty much done all season.”
A gymnast from ages 2 to 13, Gordon as a seventh-grader elected to channel her efforts into diving and hasn’t once bothered to peer over her shoulder for a final glance.
Two years of middle school competition set the table for an outstanding freshman season at Center Grove. As a sophomore Gordon’s scores rose as the season progressed — a 430.4 at the Whiteland Invite followed by her 444.65 at the Johnson County Meet.
Gordon’s 433.4 points were good enough to win last season’s regional at Bloomington North.
As good as she performed then, she’s even better now.
“It’s just a rush every time you do a dive,” Gordon said. “After several repetitions of the same dive, your body just kind of takes over and does the dive on its own because you’ve trained it so much.”
Johnson County’s diving royalty among females includes four state champions and one program (Franklin) — Dee Boice (1980 and ’81), Dana Wiegand (1982 and ’83), Kelly Gallagher (1986) and Katie Cooper (1998).
Gordon hopes to be the fifth, but she knows the challenges ahead. After all, she’s climbed these steps before.