CANTON: Hudson seniors Taryn McLaughlin and Rachel Speakman stood on the awards podium together for the second consecutive year in Canton.
The teammates smiled after concluding their high school sports careers by placing in the top four Saturday at the Division I state girls 1-?meter diving meet at C.T. Branin Natatorium.
McLaughlin finished second with 489.40 points and Speakman placed fourth with 458.45 points.
Powell Olentangy Liberty sophomore Olivia Ball won the state title with 493.20 points.
“It is really amazing,” McLaughlin said. “For it to be that close is crazy. There are so many good girls here today. There are 12 seniors, so half us will not even be back here. There were so many girls going for it. I am happy with how I did. I dove solid.”
McLaughlin placed fourth at state last year and Speakman was eighth.
“Taryn and Rachel both dove well,” Hudson coach Dan Miller said. “They are so fun to work with and so easy to coach. The futures they have are so exciting. For them to come here in this state meet and both put up top 20 performances all-time is special.
“To place as well as they did in such a tough state meet is impressive and they deserve all the credit. This is one of the toughest state meets in the country, I feel. All 16 finalists went over 400 points. I don’t think that has ever happened.”
Centerville junior Morgan Mullins (481.90 points) and Olentangy Liberty senior Alexandra Clay (458.10 points) were third and fifth, respectively.
“I was actually seeded 14th, so I am very happy with the fourth place,” Speakman said. “Lately, I have been a little bit dizzy [with some vertigo], and luckily I wasn’t at all this meet and that made me super excited. I knew it could be super close with all of us.”
McLaughlin plans to dive at James Madison University.
“We have been training really hard for this meet,” McLaughlin said. “Everybody was scoring sevens. It was real tight and real tough.
“It’s amazing to have us both on the podium together. We have that friendly competition and it really pushes us to go farther. To go from last year, where we were fourth and eighth, to second and fourth feels amazing.”
Speakman plans to dive at Brown University.
“Taryn and I have always been pretty close, personality-wise and with diving,” Speakman said. “It is real good to have that backup. If you do bad, you know she will be there to support you.”
Other local divers that competed Saturday were Walsh Jesuit freshman Kailey Francetic (11th), Lake senior Katie Constantine (19th), Cuyahoga Falls sophomore Nicole Rozsa (21st) and freshman Erika Shane (23rd) and Jackson senior Josie McKee (24th).
“The state meet is all about consistency,” Miller said. “If you look at the top six; Olivia, Taryn, Morgan, Rachel, Alexandra and [Solon junior Sivan Mills], none of them missed any dives. They were consistent. They might not have gotten eights on everything, but there is not one dive on their list where they can go back and say, ‘Man, that is the dive that cost me this place.’?”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at www.ohiomm.com/blogs/varsity_letters/. Also follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.