PLAINFIELD — After the placement ribbons were distributed and photos were snapped, Greenfield-Central senior Maci Montgomery hopped off the winner’s podium Tuesday night ready to expel some pent-up energy.
“I just got fourth at regional. It feels great,” Montgomery beamed shortly after dancing around poolside. “I’m so excited.”
Nothing could spoil Montgomery’s mood following the Plainfield Diving Regional as she scored 365.10 points through 11 dives and three rounds to take fourth overall.
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With the top eight regional divers advancing to this weekend’s Indiana High School Athletic Association state meet, Montgomery locked down her second straight invite to the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis.
A difficult feat in it’s own right, but no more so than for a competitor only three years into her career.
“She started as a sophomore, so to get somebody to state two years in a row, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Cougars diving coach Duane Knecht said. “She learned a lot her sophomore year, and after she did what she did last year, we knew we had to do better than that.”
In only her second year of diving, after spending her youth as a competitive gymnast, Montgomery placed seventh at regional as a junior before finishing 25th overall at the state meet in 2016-17.
Now, she has a higher number in mind.
“I’m pretty confident, now that I know how (state) works a little bit more and what I can expect going into it,” Montgomery said. “With having a little bit better dives than I did last year, I’m very confident with placing this year in the top 16.”
While sure of herself and her capabilities, the Indiana State recruit didn’t expect anything to be handed to her during her final regional.
Hardly content with her runner-up placement at the New Palestine Sectional this past Saturday, where she scored 382.45 points, Montgomery came out ready.
“After getting second at sectional, which is really nice, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little bit of a disappointment. I was trying to get first,” Montgomery said. “Coming out to regional, I really wanted to nail my dives and go for the top place.”
International’s Evie Geier won the regional with a score of 468.35, which bested Plainfield’s Mikayla Zick’s runner-up tally of 419.05. Quakers teammate Kristina Zick was third for Plainfield with 411.05 points.
Brownsburg’s duo of Hannah Truax and Emma Wolf were fifth and sixth with a 356.85 and 340.50, respectively. Kamryn Blake of Cardinal Ritter was seventh with a 340.05.
Mt. Vernon’s Halle Strege placed 14th with 209.80 points, missing the three-dive final round cut at regional. Marauders’ Gracesyn Thomas was 17th with 177.75 points. Strege came into regional a third-place finisher at sectional. Thomas was fourth at New Palestine.
Montgomery’s total was lower than her sectional score, but she placed better than any of her fellow divers from three days ago.
Centerville’s Jolie Rusznak, who won the New Palestine Sectional with 390.35 points, was eighth at regional with a 319.85 as scores dipped below the average from most years, Knecht noted.
“She beat our sectional champ from last week, so it was kind of nice to rebound with that,” Knecht said.
Montgomery’s duel with Rusznak, while fierce, is friendly with both set to continue their careers in Terre Haute as Sycamores.
“We’re very happy for each other whether she wins or I win. It’s kind of like us encouraging us to be better than the other person, so it’s really nice that we have that relationship already,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery climbed the ladder from sixth after five dives during the regional to enter the finals at fourth. She held her standing by executing a front 1½, a reverse 1½ and a back double, one of her favorite dives, for 40.70 points.
“You always have the doubts that you’re not going to make it, so when you do make it, it’s relieving and really nice,” said Montgomery, who won her first Hoosier Heritage Conference title this season. “Now, the pressure is on to get better at state this year.”