MISHAWAKA — Following her fourth dive at the Penn Regional Tuesday night, Michigan City sophomore Sarah Weber couldn’t help but laugh it off.
“That was bad,” she said, light-heartedly, to Wolves coach Bruce Powalski as soon as her head got above the water.
The two looked at each other with smiles on their faces; something one wouldn’t quite expect to see considering how much is on the line in the regional, with the top eight finishers moving on to the state finals.
But a year ago, diving wasn’t even on Weber’s radar. She was all about gymnastics at the time. So with this being her first year in the sport, just making it this far in the postseason was a success in itself – especially since she has two more years left of high school diving.
Weber’s sophomore season went better than she even could have expected, finishing 12th in the regional with a score of 274.25, and as high as second in the Duneland Athletic Conference meet. While hers and Powalski’s heftiest goal was for her to make it to state, they’re still pleased with Tuesday’s outcome.
“Sarah dove against some of Indiana’s best girl divers and came in 12th out of 20,” Powalski said. “I couldn’t be more proud. She has the raw talent to become a state champion if she works at it in the future.”
They both got what they wanted most: for Weber to experience the pressure that comes with a late-postseason diving meet. It’s obviously not the same spectacle as the state meet at IUPUI, but she still got to partake in something most underclassmen don’t have the privilege of doing. Many lessons were learned because of that.
While there is always room for improvement, Powalski was very pleased with how quickly Weber progressed since he first saw her dive in the summer of 2019. Gymnasts typically make good divers, with their prior knowledge of how to twist and turn in mid-air, but there are a few “glass ceilings,” as Powalski calls them, that gymnasts have to break through in order to make the transition to become a talented diver.
“With a gymnast diving, there’s a lot of glass ceilings, where they reach that glass ceiling and they don’t get any higher,” Powalski said prior to Weber’s postseason run. “Sarah has managed to break through a couple of those glass ceilings – the biggest being head-first entries, which is not natural for a gymnast.”
In order to achieve more breakthroughs in between her sophomore and junior seasons, Weber should see some success. She focused on both diving and gymnastics this past offseason, taking away from how much she could really progress. With an entire spring, summer and fall to focus solely on diving, a state appearance in 2021 would seem doable.