Three heads better than 2
LC boosted by addition of freshman Higgins, remain perfect this year
For the swimmers at the ultra competitive Duneland Conference championship meet, the tension was exasperating last month. Up until the final swimming events the parity was relentless in the narrow finish between the winning Chesterton girls and runner-up Crown Point.
But what the final score didn’t necessarily show was another lopsided outing on the other side of the competition — diving. Cool as a cucumber the Lake Central girls took to their respective spots on the board and posted a 1-2-3 finish to keep their diving campaign rolling. The output was substantial when considering that the 53 points earned helped the Indians to a strong third place finish on the day with 351 points.
“It was really big, it was a good feeling to feel like all of your hard work has paid off,” said the victor that day (with a score of 385.35), LC senior Abby Prince. “We kind of bring out the best in each other, because we just push each other harder. We’re like a family, but we just push each other to be the best that we can be.”
This atmosphere of success breeding success is part of LC’s eye-popping upswing this fall on the diving side of things. Prince makes up one-third of the threeheaded unit that also includes sophomore Hannah Leyba and freshman Kallie Higgins. The latter two are some of the first members from the recently formed age group diving feeder system making a huge impact. Heading into this weekend’s opening round of the IHSAA tournament, they’ve remained undefeated in 2013-14.
After watching as other solid programs like Munster and Valparaiso soaked up all of the diving spotlight for years, the burst of accolades is nice for fourthyear LC diving coach Tommy Slivka. However, he doesn’t lose sight on the high expectations for his highly trained squad.
“I’ve seen every single one of them be able to do every single dive, and do it well,” said Slivka, who incorporated his affiliation as an age group coordinator and coach with the Indiana International school of diving into Lake Central three years ago. This diving program works as a way for girls and boys, from around the region, to train and compete year-round. “They all have a solid miss. If it’s a miss — it’s an unexpected miss.”
And given their potency throughout the schedule, this competitive culture has remained. Case in point, the back-and-forth finishes between Prince and Higgins. Higgins was the champion at the competitive Highland Invite, then later fell into second place to Prince (who has improved on everything this season, including a strong list of dives) at Conference. And in the meantime Leyba (who had a win during a dual meet with Merrillville) put the finishing touches on with her third place finishes.
“Sectionals is going to be pretty interesting, because we’ve always scored so close to each other, so it’s going to be a toss up to see who wins,” Prince explained during Monday night’s practice.
Regardless of which of the favored LC girls potentially comes out on top in the Crown Point Sectional, the goal according to Higgins is for them to make every dive count in the lengthier 11- dive format used in the tourney. Her win at Highland (with a score of 359.15, fueled by a solid back dive pike in the second round) was in the same setup.
“Basically you’ve got to get up there and focus on that dive,” Higgins said. “(If there’s a miscue) get up on there and really focus on what you have to do for the next dive.”