GREENFIELD — A hush fell over the crowd as Greenfield-Central’s Ben Rader stepped up onto the diving board inside the Cougars’ Aquatic Center at Greenfield-Central High School.
With the water calmly still 1-meter below his feet, the defending Hoosier Heritage Conference champion surveyed his position briefly before turning his back to the pool.
In one motion, Rader sprung and soared through the air, executing a polished inward 1.5 somersault for a score of 50.4 during the HHC diving championship preliminary round Thursday night.
The 11th diver in the initial five-dive round, Rader, a senior, carried the top total at 87.15.
As of deadline, Rader logged three dives with two more to go before the three-dive semifinal round.
Greenfield-Central’s Maci Montgomery led the girls competition after four preliminary dives with Mt. Vernon’s Halle Strege in second.
Last year, Rader captured his first HHC diving title in dramatic fashion as he passed up Yorktown’s Joey Ulrich on his last dive.
Rader finished with 432.05 points to beat Ulrich’s 425.35. In 2015-16, Rader was second to Pendleton Heights’ Dylan McCammon, who set the meet’s scoring record at 551.15.