It’s the small things that he’s looking for: the slightest degree of change in the angle of his body as he enters the water; a small bend in one knee as he rotates midair; separation between his arms and his torso when he completes a twist.

Those little miscues represent points, Rosemount diver Daniel Monaghan said. They can be the difference between a win and a loss. On a bigger scale, they could be the difference between him defending his Class 2A state diving title at season’s end, or not.

They’re all visible on the videos of his dives that he watches — and re-watches — again and again when he gets home after each meet.

“He’s very precise,” Irish diving coach Dane Dzubinski said. “He pays attention to all of it, every little detail, which is so crucial in diving.”

That’s one reason that Monaghan is looked at as the favorite when gold medals are handed out March 1 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Monaghan’s prowess also is a reason No. 7-ranked Rosemount has another chance for a high placing.

Steady climb

Monaghan’s progress in the last four seasons has been obvious. Dzubinski said he and Rosemount head coach Tami Carlson are “constantly amazed” at the new levels he reaches.

Monaghan broke the school’s 11-dive meet record Saturday with a 465.05 performance that won the Eau Claire (Wis.) Invitational by more than 120 points. He was just eight points shy of besting the school’s six-dive record on Tuesday.

Monaghan takes it in stride. Well, actually, he expects it.

“I’ve been looking at those records since I was a freshman,” he said. “That’s been my goal: to break those. It was just amazing to actually do it.”

More of a surprise, though, was winning a state title as a junior last year.

“It was a goal of mine, but I didn’t think I’d actually be able to do it,” Monaghan said. “I was just diving really well, and in the middle [of the state meet] I was able to pull off some really good dives for me.”

He won the meet by nearly 40 points over fellow junior Eric Mitchell of Wayzata.

‘No sure thing’

While you stand side by side with opponents each time before stepping onto the spring board, diving is still a sport where it’s about controlling what you can control, Monaghan said. And it will come down to those points for technique.

By that measure, it’s easy to see why Monaghan is looked at as the state’s top diver. His record-setting performance last week was 61.05 points higher than his winning mark at state last year. It also was nearly 10 points higher than any other diver has recorded this season.

“There’s a lot of really good competition this year, though,” said Monaghan, who plans to compete in college for the Gophers. “I feel like it’s pretty wide open.”

“It feels a lot different for me with people sort of expecting me to win,” he said. “But it’s going to come down to those dives and all those little details, all those small things. We’ll see what happens.”