Two locals make top-10 at 4A State Diving Championship – Loveland Reporter-Herald
THORNTON — Joe Smack didn’t quite deliver the triumphant results he was striving for on his trip to the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center for the 2022 Class 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships.
Nonetheless, the Thompson Valley senior diver is undoubtedly walking away from Thornton and his prolific high school diving career with enough to hang his hat on.
“He showed why he was ranked No. 1 all the way to the final,” TV head coach Trevor Ten Brink said on Friday. “He made some pretty brilliant dives. His performance was just awesome for the most part.
After taking second place as a junior last year, Smack’s top priority from day one of his senior campaign was landing on the top of the podium when the 4A finals finally came around.
Headlining a midseason average of 499.25 points — 4A’s best score of 2022 — Smack cemented himself as the state’s No. 1 diver while kicking off the festivities of Thursday as such.
He then nearly snatched the gold medal before settling for a respectable fourth place behind a solid rock of 405.20 points.
Still, though Smack came away dissatisfied, it’s worth noting how the senior operated under the highest degree of difficulty of any state diver while still managing to take a slim lead in Thursday’s finals — where contestants competed. completed the last three of 11 total dives.
“I didn’t miss a dive until the finals,” Smack said. “I think that’s just why it hurts so much right now. I had it in the bag for a while there. So it was hard. But I’m still definitely proud of what I’ve accomplished over the past few years.
Smack joined the Eagles as a rookie in 2019 while having virtually no prior diving experience. Rising through the ranks at a rare rate, he placed 15th in the state in 2019 en route to truly surfacing as one of Colorado’s top divers in his final two seasons after the 2020 campaign was canceled by COVID.
Not too shabby, especially considering Smack first stepped on a diving board only a few years ago.
“Joe’s dives were the toughest of any divers yesterday,” said Ten Brink. “So he’s done a really good job. And Joe is just one of the best athletes I’ve had the honor of coaching. The way he went from hardly ever diving to being ranked #1 practically all season in the entire state. It’s just phenomenal to see that kind of athleticism and that kind of advancement in a short three-year career.
Smack wasn’t the only local athlete to make his presence known during Thursday’s prime-time dive leg.
After racking up a personal best 447.40 points to claim the Northern Conference diving crown last week, Mountain View sophomore Tyler Tolerico put the finishing touches to a breakout season by placing ninth at state 4A (385.55).
In his first state championship appearance, Tolerico posted his second best score of the year. Given the rapid progression of the subclass after missing out on 4A status as a rookie, it’s safe to assume that a new dominance is in store for the promising MV diver.
While it was quiet in the pool for the home teams, the TVHS 200 Freestyle Relay Team qualified for the consolation final and managed to move up a few spots and finish 17th out of 20 teams. Smack, John Shier, Erik Stern and Kyle Houkes cut their overall time to 1 minute, 38.29 seconds on Friday night, cutting more than a full second from their preliminary time of 1:39.34.