Wrapping up his high school diving career, Homer High School senior Kaec Brinster swept the state dive competition in Juneau Saturday, scoring a first place.
“It was unreal,” said Head Coach Harmon Hall of Brinster’s performance. “As soon as he nailed that first dive, I had goose bumps until he finished the last one. I was totally surrounded by my peers and everybody was jumping up and down. They’ve all known him for four years. It was really good to see someone other than the big guns out of Anchorage walk in there and blow them all way.”
Brinster, who was shooting for third or fourth place, said he surprised himself.
“After I did my first two dives in finals, I sort of realized if I did well on my last one, I could possibly win. And then, when I did, it was still pretty surprising,” he said.
In addition to first-place, Brinster brought home a new school record, 289.85, and Homer’s first dive championship.
“There’s never been a diving champion in Homer,” said Harmon. “The highest we’ve been was like third place.”
Also diving for Homer at state were seniors Brian Rowe and Katharine Dolma, junior Jasmine Lewis and sophomore Ian Hall.
Nine of the divers to make finals, including the Homer athletes, had attended the dive camp Harmon offers at the beginning of the season.
“The camp has definitely been a help,” said Brinster. “Aside from (Coach Hall), that’s pretty much where I learned the majority of my dives. It’s pretty cool.”
Coach Rebecca Hardy took four swimmers to state: James Nagle, Mark Nagle and Greg Smith, with Cheyanne Smith as first alternate.
“It went really well,” said Hardy. “Mark Nagle qualified in two events, the 200 and 500 free. He didn’t final in either, but it was really good for him. … Greg Smith went in the 100 back. He did a beautiful job, didn’t make it to finals, but did a really good job swimming.”
James Nagle swam the 100 fly and although he didn’t make it into finals, Hardy said he had his best time ever.
With swimmers and divers from all over the state and a large number of spectators, the stress of state competitions is higher than other events on the athletes. It becomes even more intense when athletes compete individually.
“They’re a little more isolated, the pressure is a little more daunting,” said Hardy. “You’re there and all those kids are there and the stakes are higher. But (Homer) did very well.”
Throw in some television cameras and the event rises to another level.
“My son who is actually going to school in Flagstaff (Arizona) and drove to Colorado for the weekend called me Saturday morning when we were warming up and he said, ‘Turn around.’ I didn’t even know there was a camera on me, but he said, ‘There you are. I’m watching you on TV,’” said Hall.
On the plus side was the “very nice facility in Juneau,” said Harmon. Hardy described the saltwater pool as “magnificent.”
Now that the school swim-dive season is over, Hardy said some swimmers would be swimming with Kachemak Swim Club. Although the Mariner swim team loses four seniors this year, Hardy has confidence in the strong swimmers remaining and the eighth graders she’s aware of.
“There are some very fast, very strong swimmers,” she said. “We are, I think, on the rise. I’m very excited about the future of Homer High School swimming. The next couple of years look exceedingly fast and strong.”
Brinster, who said he liked diving because of the body control it required, will be performing in the upcoming holiday production of Nutcracker and is considering enrolling at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
“They have a super, super good dance department,” he said.
On Sunday, just back from taking first place in state diving competition in Juneau, Brinster was thinking about the season and his high school diving experience coming to a close.
“We just all support and coach other and it’s really cool being around those guys all the time. I’m definitely going to miss them a lot,” he said. “And Coach Harmon, too. I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did if it wasn’t for him.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.
ASAA State Championships
Nov. 8-9, Dimond Park Aquatic Center, Juneau
Girls 1-meter diving:
7. Jasmine Lewis, 311.10; 8. Katherine Dolma, 292.95
Boys 1-meter diving: 1. Kaec Brinster, 389.85; 5. Brian Rowe, 351.15; 16. Ian Hall, 101.60.
Girls: 1. Juneau-Douglas, 88 points; 2. Dimond, 85; 3. Kodiak, 64; 4. Eagle River, 57; 5. Palmer, 51; 6. Chugiak, 45; 7. South Anchorage, 25; 8. Ketchikan, 21; 8. West Anchorage, 21; 10. Seward, 18; 10. Soldotna, 18; 10. North Pole, 18; 13. West Valley, 13; 14. Bartlett, 9; 15. Thunder Mountain, 7; 15. Sitka ,7; 17. Colony, 4; 18. Homer, 3; 19. Valdez, 1.
Boys: 1. Dimond, 78; 2. Sitka, 75; 3. Service, 68; 4. Thunder Mountain, 61; 5. Petersburg, 56; 6. West Valley, 50; 7. Kodiak, 45; 8. South Anchorage, 36; 9. Eagle River, 23; 10. Homer, 15; 10. Colony, 15; 12. Ketchikan, 8; 13. Kenai, 7; 14. Chugiak, 5; 14. Lathrop, 5; 16. Palmer, 4; 17. Soldotna, 3.