Bay’s Craft wins third diving crown
By Jim Horvath
Published March 3, 2010
Craft has always come up with strong finishes, saving her favorite
dives for last. (West life photos by Larry Bennet)
Throughout her high school career, Bay’s Nikki Craft
has always saved her favorite – and best – dives for last.
had served her well, and definitely came into play last Thursday
when she won her third-straight Division II state diving title at
the 2010 Ohio High School Swimming and Diving Championships in Canton.
“We were sitting
at the side of the pool before her last dive,” said Bay diving coach
Annette McCoy. “Nikki looked at me, shook my hand and said ‘All
I need is 15 points. I’ve got this.’”
With that, history
was made at the C.T. Branin Natatorium.
Up 23 points
on junior Natalie Ritter of Columbus Academy, Craft nailed her favorite
dive, an inward 1½, and came away with a final score of 449.90.
That was enough to get past Ritter, who took the runner-up spot
McCoy, no other diver has won three state diving championships,
whether it was in Division I or Division II. Craft’s latest win
capped off a high school career that saw her make four trips to
the state finals. She finished third her freshman year.
“I spoke with
some of the meet officials who had been around awhile,” McCoy said.
“Nobody could recall anybody winning three state championships in
diving. To get one, it was great. The second time, it was even better.
“The third time…well,
you just can’t get any better than that. And for Nikki to be on
the podium all four years is just phenomenal,” McCoy said.
a third championship was not as easy as one might have expected,
according to McCoy.
expected it,” she said. “But there’s always a lot of pressure. You’ve
got a two-time champion going for her third title. That’s a lot
of pressure on her right there.
her a good run for the first seven dives,” McCoy said. “After the
10th dive, Nikki was ahead of her by 14.6 points. It just so happened
that Natalie was in front of her in the diving order. That was good,
because Nikki doesn’t like going first. She’d much rather go last.
“I’d write down
the scores, and she’d look at them before she took her next dive.
Once she knew the score going into her final dive, Nikki knew she
had it,” she added.
Despite getting pushed, Craft was at the top of
her game the entire way, McCoy said.
so much better than last year,” McCoy said. “And it was great that
she was coming in without any illness or injury this time around.
That one year, she was in the hospital the week before. This time,
though, there was nothing to worry about.
“And she’s so
talented that I think it makes it hard on the officials,” she said.
“They don’t see that kind of talent come around very often, if at
all. I think that affects the scoring from time to time. There were
even some college coaches there who felt the officials weren’t letting
Nikki run away with it.
“But I would
say her state scores will stay up there for awhile,” she added.
“Nobody can touch it.”
Craft set the
state record at this year’s district championships at the Cleveland
State Natatorium, her home pool. She scored a 509.75, and also scored
a 475.40 last year.
Now it’s on
to bigger and better things for the Bay senior. Earlier this school
year, Craft signed a national letter of intent to continue her diving
career at Miami University in Oxford.
“I wish her
well,” McCoy said. “I think she’ll do great there. It will definitely
be a new experience for her.
of divers there will be better,” she said. “She’ll be competing
against divers who have been there three or four years. She’ll see
the difference, but she’ll do well. We all wish her the best.”