Rising to the occasion
Allen Moody | Highlands TodayAt the end of last year's diving season, Sebring coach James Dion said he was expecting big things from Byron Cobb. Cobb did everything his coach expected and then some, capping off a solid sophomore campaign with an 11th-place finish at the Class 2A state meet.
Published: December 31, 2012
Published: December 31, 2012
"I was looking for him to finish in the top 16 this year," Dion said. "I wanted him to get the full competition and make the cut to the final 16. For him to place 11th, I was ecstatic."
Dion believes last year was a great experience for Cobb, as he placed fifth at districts and advanced to the regional meet, where he placed 10th.
"He got that taste last year of the top-notch competition," Dion said. "It really put a fire into him."
Cobb definitely peaked at the right time this season, as his scores were in the 295 to 305 range in the early season, but once the district meet rolled around Cobb stepped up his game considerably. He finished second at districts with a score of 420.90 points and followed that up with a sixth-place finish at regionals with 336.55 points.
"He really started improving towards the end," Dion said.
Cobb scored 334.95 points at the state meet, where the judges are known to be tough. Of the 24 divers who competed at state, just one scored higher at state than in regionals. The other 23 divers received lower scores.
Dion is expecting bigger and better things from Cobb over the course of his final two years.
"I'm looking for a top-eight finish at state next year," he said.
For his accomplishments, Cobb has been selected as the 2012 Highlands Today All-Highlands Boys Diver of the Year.
Domonic Hutchins, junior, Avon Park: Hutchins came into his own this year, starting off the season strongly and keeping it going all season long, which culminated in a berth to the Class 1A state meet.
Hutchins placed second at the Heartland Invitational with 336.70 points and followed that up with a second-place effort in the district meet with 363.05 points. At regionals, Hutchins placed eighth with 317.60 points, sending him to the state meet, where he finished 18th.
Marty Hickey, senior, Lake Placid: Hickey's debut on the diving board couldn't have gone much better for the Green Dragons' senior, who advanced to regionals with a solid sixth-place finish in the district meet with 340.25 points.
Hickey was a respectable 10th at the regional meet, scoring 298.75 points, just coming up a bit shy on a state berth.
"Marty came to this team as a senior, with absolutely no swimming or diving experience. Normally that could be a challenging obstacle to overcome," said Lake Placid coach Tom Creel. "Marty just ran right through every obstacle that was in front of him and pushed himself to learn the skills necessary to be an outstanding competitor.
"More importantly, he set a strong example to the underclassmen of what can be achieved when you go after something."
Robert Jennings, senior, Sebring: Jennings was a bit hesitant to dive for the Blue Streaks, but his decision turned out to be a wise one as he placed fifth in the district meet with a score of 351.65 points, which advanced him to regionals where he placed 12th.
"I kind of had to convince him to come out because he just wanted to do swim," Dion said. "I think he's a much better diver and going to regionals was a really good experience for him.
"He was a lot of fun to work with and he was fearless. He would do anything you said."
Josh Gaidos, junior, Avon Park: Gaidos enjoyed another solid season on the diving board for the Red Devils and was consistently strong. Both he and Hutchins are juniors, giving the Red Devils plenty of reason to be optimistic about next year.
Gaidos was a solid fourth at the Heartland Invitational with 303.2 points and a big showing at the district meet, where he finished third with 360.45 points. At the regional meet, Gaidos was ninth with a score of 310.95 points, missing out on a trip to state by one place.
Lance Feagley, sophomore, Lake Placid: Feagley had a solid sophomore season for the Green Dragons, placing seventh at the district meet with a score of 306.10 points, advancing him to the regional meet, where he placed 12th.
"This year Lance worked hard to perfect his dives in his hard work paid off at the district and regional competitions, earning him a spot as an All-Highlands diver," Creel said.
For guiding Cobb to an 11th-place finish at the state meet, Sebring's James Dion has been selected as the 2012 Highlands Today All-Highlands Boys Diving Coach of the Year.
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