Beachwood diver wins D-II district title
Before virtually every dive Feb. 14 amid the Division II Cleveland State District meet, Spencer Bystrom dabbed himself with a towel and cast it to the side.
That’s pretty much how the competition felt after a career performance by the Beachwood junior.
Bystrom won the D-II district title with an 11-dive score of 511.75 after taking district runner-up honors each of the last two years.
The score marked a stark ascent after he recorded a 436.15 at district and a 427.00 at state, the latter getting him fifth in D-II in Canton. A jack of all trades for the Bison, who is also outstanding in 100 backstroke and on relays, started his week at Busbey Natatorium with a flourish.
“It feels amazing,” Bystrom said. “I had no idea I was going to PR by 63 points today. I was super hyped, and I’m just glad that I’m here with all my friends and able to compete.
“Today, all of my dives were spot on. I didn’t miss a single dive, except maybe reverse 1 ½. Besides that, all of them were great and — yeah, that was it. Something felt right.”
Bystrom set a good early tone on his fourth dive — back 1 ½ somersault pike — with a 51.75.
But his best was left for last. With a comfortable lead heading into the final round, the three-time state qualifier had a pair of 58.8s, an inward 1 ½ somersault pike and an inward 2 somersault tuck.
“That (fourth) dive, it can usually be a hit or miss dive — I can get anywhere from 30 to 50,” Bystrom said. “So definitely getting 51, that’s great. I was super happy.
“That (final) round, I had to score 100 points in the last two dives, which is a really big challenge. I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. But with the help of my coaches and confidence, I finally made it.”
Bystrom will have plenty of area company jumping on Interstate 77 next week.
Benedictine freshman Luke Faulisi was third with a 379.20. The North Coast League champion, who also plays hockey for the Bengals as a defenseman, closed in style on his 11th and final dive, a back 1 somersault 2 ½ twist free, with his best score of the day, a 43.20.
“It feels awesome,” Faulisi said. “I was hoping to get a 400, but since the judges are a little tough, I had to be a little bit more aggressive.”
On the girls side, reigning D-II state champion Kami Goodrick took second with a score of 426.40 to book her fourth career trip to state. The West Geauga senior, still feeling the effects of a dislocated rib, shook off a rough semifinal round with encouraging bookends. She got a 47.15 on her second dive, a back 1 ½ somersault pike, and her top score of the day on her penultimate dive, an inward 1 ½ somersault pike for a 49.20.
“You have good days, and you have bad days,” Goodrick said. “I’d say today was just kind of an average day — nothing too spectacular or anything like that. But you’ve just got to take it one dive at a time, and then when something goes wrong, you just leave it behind and make up for that with your other dives.
“That 47 definitely helped me a lot. It was a good setup and it kind of gives you a little bit of confidence and eases everything a little bit because you’re not trying to constantly catch up and everything. But yeah, it went well.”
For the second straight year, Goodrick will have West G company in Canton, as Hannah Zahniser booked a return engagement as well by taking fourth with a 386.70.
“It’s pretty special,” Zahniser said. “I always come back from injuries apparently, so this is another injury that I’m coming back from, because I was really sick and I almost cut off the season. So it means a lot.
“It was flu-like — I was out for a while. I came back from a month of not diving. I never really got back to normal for the postseason. This is one of the first meets and days I’ve done in a month. So not really my best, I feel, but I can deal with it since I’ve been out.”
Also headed to state are University’s Ian Binder and Chagrin Falls’ Kate Lamonica, who each took fifth.