CANTON: Nordonia senior Stephen Romanik is the top Division I boys diver in the state for the second year in a row.
Romanik made that clear when he won his second Division I state boys 1-meter diving championship Thursday with 565.10 points in 11 dives at C.T. Branin Natatorium.
His score is a personal best and school record, surpassing last week’s 557.80 points at the district meet at Cleveland State University’s Busbey Natatorium.
“I just went into this competition wanting to have fun,” Romanik said. “A lot of my friends are divers that I am competing against and I just always cheer everyone on and have a lot of fun. This was the last meet and I am really thrilled with the outcome.”
Powell Olentangy Liberty sophomore Cameron Thatcher placed second with 558.55 points, and New Albany junior David Dinsmore was third with 547.00 points.
Romanik, 17, put together a consistent performance to finish atop the podium.
“I am most pleased with my ninth dive, my 405-C, which is the inward 2½ somersaults tuck,” Romanik said. “It is a 3.1-degree of difficulty. I was really happy when I came out of the water because I knew I had spun it really fast and I was able to tighten up on the water as tight as I could and get down in without a big splash.”
Romanik, an Ohio State University recruit, placed first at state last year with 557.15 points. He won sectional and district titles at the University of Akron and Cleveland State University leading into state each of the past two years. He was second in the state meet as a sophomore and fifth as a freshman.
“I am really proud of Stephen,” Nordonia coach Claudio Costanzo said. “We knew that he would be on the podium this year. Coming into this last week or two, we knew there would be competition from down south, but we knew Stephen would step up coming into this meet. He set a school record. I have never seen anyone score that high, especially at a meet like this. He has a great a career ahead of him down at Ohio State.”
The event included 24 divers, but 16 made it to the final three rounds and did 11 dives.
“Stephen went into that last round and he had to put three good dives together, and he did,” said Kristin Dodson, who trains Romanik with Chris Medvedeff in the Akron Rippers Diving Club at UA. “He nailed his full-out, which is his last dive, and it is the hardest dive anyone is doing in the competition in Ohio. He did what he needed to do on it to solidify that first place.”
Dodson said the full-out is a front 2½ somersaults pike with a full twist in it. It carries a 3.2 degree of difficulty, the most challenging dive in Romanik’s set of 11.
“I am hoping for great things when he goes to Ohio State,” Dodson said. “He has gotten to a level now where he is competitive in the state and nationally. When he goes to Ohio State, I am hoping that he picks it up even more and that gets to an international level.”
Medvedeff said he has enjoyed working with Romanik, who has grown from a 5-foot, 98-pound freshman to a 5-6, 148-pound senior.
“Stephen was great today,” Medvedeff said. “No mistakes. A couple of little bobbles here and there, but for the most part rock solid and really good. It was a good contest.”
Canton McKinley senior Jackson Gray finished eighth with 458.05 points. Jackson senior Jeff Turner was 13th with 398.15 points and North Canton Hoover freshman David Waszak was 16th with 388.00 points.
Alex Obendorf sidelined
Romanik’s good friend, Hudson senior Alex Obendorf, was unable to compete this postseason because of concussions stemming from a car accident this school year. Obendorf, a West Virginia recruit, was the state champion as a sophomore with 510.65 points. He placed second in the state meet as a junior and was third as a freshman.
Romanik said he talked with Obendorf at UA’s Ocasek Natatorium two weeks ago and could tell he was distraught over not being able to dive.
“Alex was a little sad because he was not able to finish out his high school career, but I kept reassuring him that [he had] bigger and better things to go on to in college,” Romanik said.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.