At the start of practice in 2011, long-time Stillwater swimming coach Brian Luke welcomed a former gymnast to the program.
“She was a freshman and said she wanted to dive,” Luke said. “I said ‘good.’ ”
Three years later, Liz Click is poised to make a big splash at the girls’ swimming and diving state meet, which begins Wednesday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Click, who finished eighth in Class 2A diving two years ago and third at last year, is considered the favorite. At the Section 4 meet last Saturday, Click set the section record with an 11-dive score of 569.10.
“At the True Team section meet and the True Team state meet, she was in the mid-500s range,” Luke said. “She has been real consistent this season. She has talent. And she has put in the extra time and work with her club in the summer and diving school.”
Click has shown steady improvement over the past three years. At the state meet two years ago, she had a score of 351.90. Last year she improved to 398.10.
“I’m really happy with how the season has gone,” Click said. “I think what has helped is I went to nationals this summer. It gave me a different mind-set. Watching all of the talented athletes made me want to work harder.”
The effort has paid off for Click, as she has set school records for six and 11 dives. Her marks broke the records of Maggie Keefer, who won the state title in 2009 and went on to be an All-America for the Gophers.
“It’s hard not to focus on numbers in diving,” said Click, who plans to sign a national letter of intent Wednesday to dive at Minnesota. “In gymnastics, you’re taught not to worry about the number [score]. It’s the same in diving. The only thing that is important is how you feel about the dive.”
Click’s consistency makes her a contender to break the state meet diving record of 507.00, set in 1997 by Wayzata’s Jaime Sanger.
“I’m hoping to do better [at the state meet] than I did last year,” Click said. “My grandfather passed away a couple of days before the state meet and that made it hard. It’s pushing me to do better, for him.”
Click will have keen competition from several divers, including Roseville’s Michelle Schlossmacher-Smith, Wayzata’s Brooke Fontaine, Rochester Century’s Andrianna Jacobs and Hopkins’ Ari Brace.
Schlossmacher-Smith was the section runner-up to Click last Saturday with a score of 534.20. Fontaine won the Section 5 title (537.20). Jacobs, who was second at last year’s state meet with a score of 401.15, set a Section 1 record last Saturday (455.55). Brace won the Section 6 meet (498.45).
In Class 1A, Northfield senior Bailey DuPay is going for her fourth consecutive state title.