BROWNSBURG — When Benjamin Rader is talking, he’s having a good night.
On Wednesday night, the Greenfield-Central senior diver was a master conversationalist, chatting it up with nearly every coach and competitor poolside during the Brownsburg Regional.
“I’m really happy. I had a fun time today. It was just an awesome time. I just talked to a bunch of these divers and got to know them,” Rader remarked with a smile. “When I come to a meet like this, I like to talk to people maybe I haven’t dove with in a while and I just have a lot of fun. That’s when I dive the best, when I’m having fun.”
Rader was on point throughout the night, scoring a 478.95 for third overall. Richmond’s Isaac Khamis, the the defending 1-meter diving state champion, won the regional with a 596.60, followed by Pike’s Aiden Werner with 585.45. Werner placed third at state last season.
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Rader’s regional score was 12 points better than his sectional score of 466.35 from Saturday at New Palestine, securing an automatic berth to this weekend’s IHSAA state meet at the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI.
As a junior, Rader placed 14th overall at state, and he finished seventh at regional with a 385.40. He was second to Khamis at sectional 592.60-473.65 in 2016-17.
After eight dives on Wednesday to conclude the postponed competition, which was delayed after a fire at Brownsburg High School on Tuesday, Rader sat at 325.40.
The program’s all-time 11-dive scoring champion capped the evening with a 62-point effort, nailing an upward 2 1/2.
“He had a great night tonight,” Duane Knecht said. “He missed just one little dive, a back dive. Other than that, he had a solid night, but to be right on the entire meet is tough.”
Mt. Vernon senior Jordan Spearman missed the cut for the regional’s final round, but he placed 11th overall with a score of 346.35. A fourth-place finisher at sectional with a 320.90, the Marauders’ lone competitive had a strong final performance.
The top eight from regional advanced to the state meet.
“He wasn’t here last year, and he actually improved upon his sectional score by 26 points,” Mt. Vernon diving coach James Cochran said. “He’s enjoyed his year in diving. He is a pleasure to coach, and he’s fun on deck. He seems to enjoy it.”
Rader, who was sectional runner-up to Khamis (576.10) this past weekend, plans to replicate his mood at state.
A University of Indianapolis commit, Rader is aiming for a podium finish to end his prep career after posting a school-record 11-dive score of 500.55 this year to best his previous mark of 473.65, which he set at last season’s sectional meet.
“We would love to be top-8. That’s putting yourself on the podium and getting a medal,” Knecht said. “We’ve talked about that all season. We definitely want to improve on last year’s results, but the ultimate goal is maybe making that top eight.”
If he starts state like he ended regional, anything is possible, Rader said. It’s all about having a good time.
“I didn’t do so well with (my upward 2 1/2) at sectional, but that’s because I wasn’t so confident in it,” Rader said. “This time, wherever it goes, I’m just going to kick out hard and be confident. It worked out nice.”