Carrying On The Tradition: Cougars’ Crouch wins HHC diving championship

Greenfield-Central’s diving coach, Duane Knecht (l) talks with Reagan Crouch and Emily Jones during a break between rounds during the HHC Diving Championship at New Palestine on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.(Rob Baker/Daily Reporter) By: Rich Torres | Daily Reporter

NEW PALESTINE — There isn’t much Greenfield-Central sophomore diver Reagan Crouch can’t do, or at least, won’t try.

From a soccer player and a gymnast as a grade-schooler to a distance runner on the Cougars’ high school girls cross-country team, Crouch is a year-round competitor, finding time for track and field in the spring and always focusing on her studies.

Diving, however, was more happenstance, and it paid dividends on Thursday night during the Hoosier Heritage Conference Diving Championships at the New Palestine Natatorium.

Crouch, who placed fourth at last year’s HHC diving meet, soared even higher in her second go-around, posting a personal-record 347.25 points to win the 1-meter title and reignite the Cougars’ traditional hold on the event.

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"I started swimming in the fourth grade, and I saw the high school divers, and I thought it was cool," Crouch recalled. "I thought, maybe I’ll be good at that? And, I ended up liking it and ended up going with it."

Her decision five years ago, when she first took flight off the diving board in the sixth grade, carried her to a regional appearance as a freshman, and now secured her first major championship.

Crouch’s victory marked the first for the Cougars’ girls in diving since Maci Montgomery in 2018, who picked up the torch after the graduation of former HHC champion Shyanne Milne, who won three consecutive titles in her career.

"We had a little dry spell, so it’s nice to get it back," G-C diving coach Duane Knecht said. "Reagan is a sophomore, so hopefully, we have a few more years ahead."

Crouch’s gymnastics background as a youth not only fuels her competitive drive but foreshadows further degrees of difficulty in the immediate future, though following her preliminary round at the HHC championship, Crouch had minimal stress.

After the event’s first five dives, Crouch established a score of 173.05 with Shelbyville’s Maiah Helfer-Vazquez trailing at 141.0.

Following the semifinal round, Crouch’s lead grew to 269.55-219.95 before she put the competition away in the finals.

Helfer-Vazquez finished second at 298.85, while New Castle’s Sacha Shunneson and Ella Garvin were third (292.65) and fourth (259.45), respectively.

New Palestine senior Samantha Booe was sixth (253.50). Dragons’ sophomore Alayna Walker was seventh (241.80) and freshman Izzy Napier was 10th (208.70).

Greenfield-Central’s Emily Jones, a freshman, placed eighth (228.35). Mt. Vernon sophomore Iris Sifuentes finished 12th (166.25).

"This feels pretty good. It was nice to go from fourth last year to first this year, and I improved my score majorly, too, which was really nice," Crouch said. 

"There wasn’t really a strategy, I just went in thinking, I got this, so let’s go after it. This is my year to do some good things, and after the first five dives, I was feeling pretty good, thinking that I had the win."

Her diving victory definitely gave the Cougars a boost in their pursuit of a potential third consecutive HHC team title today during the championships’ swimming portion of the meet. 

Greenfield-Central will enter tonight at New Palestine short-handed due to COVID-19 contact tracing quarantines, so Crouch jumped in ready to assist.

"I know we are going to be really close to Pendleton (Heights), so getting first and getting those extra points is really going to help," Crouch said. "I was pretty happy with my score at the end. I definitely want to get some new dives before sectional and try to get a better score next time with some harder dives."

Crouch placed fourth at sectional a year ago and was 18th at regional while learning from now graduated senior diver Grace Hall, who mentored her as a freshman. Hall was runner-up at the HHC meet in 2019-20. 

Now, Crouch is eager to give back anywhere she can as a team leader, including as a swimmer. Tonight, she will race in the 50-yard freestyle and on the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays for the Cougars.

"Grace was a hard worker and a great leader just because she would try anything, and Reagan saw that. Reagan still has some dives we need to have by sectional, and we actually adjusted her a little last-minute with some of her dives because we wanted her to be positive on them," Knecht said. "I wanted her to be confident coming into this meet because I wanted her to seize upon the opportunity."

Mission accomplished for Crouch with possibly more to come.

"I’m impressed with myself. I just hope next year I can come back and win it again," Crouch said. 

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2020-21 HHC Girls Diving Championship

At New Palestine High School

1. Reagan Crouch, Greenfield-Central 347.25

2. Maiah Helfer-Vazquez, Shelbyville 298.85

3. Sacha Shunneson, New Castle 292.65

4. Ella Garvin, New Castle 259.45

5. Madelyn Heineman, Pendleton Heights 254.95

6. Samantha Booe, New Palestine 253.50

7. Alayna Walker, New Palestine 241.80

8. Emily Jones, Greenfield-Central 228.35

9. Mahlaya Lindsey, Shelbyville 216.05

10. Izzy Napier, New Palestine 208.70

11. Dani Crehan, Pendleton Heights 184.95

12. Iris Sifuentes, Mt. Vernon 166.25

13. Zoe Kesler, Pendleton Heights 160.25