As he finished his final dive, John Shipley received the most applause of any of the 16 divers in the final round of the state meet. The whistles and claps weren't for the reason the Moffat County High School senior would have liked.
Shipley landed on his back, sending an echoing slap through the Mountain View Aquatic Center. The claps were more for sympathy than a job-well-done applause.
"I never think about my dives and I was thinking about every single move for state," Shipley said. "I was way too tense and messed up seven of 11 dives."
Diving coach Ed Stehlin watched his divers fail to compete like they were capable of at the big show.
"They won't loosen up," he said. "Jerry (Davis, who didn't reach the finals) should have made the finals and John should be in the top eight right now. It just didn't happen for them."
MCHS qualified for the finals in four events on Saturday, including Shipley in diving, the 200-yard medley relay team of Shipley, Chris Compton, Kyle Eitel and Kellan Moore, Compton in the 100 backstroke and the 200 freestyle relay team of Andy Key, Kellan Moore, Shipley and Eitel. In all of the events, the Bulldogs finished last in the consolation round, giving them all 16th place at the state swim meet.
"The pressure got to them today," coach Jim Vorhies said. "All year we didn't do well on the second day of meets and it was the same here at state."
The first day was what Vorhies hopes his team will build on for next year. The two relay teams that qualified for the finals did so with school records. Compton also broke his own school record in the backstroke.
"My swim the second day wasn't very good," Compton said. "But I have two more years to come back and get better."
The Bulldogs scored six points at the meet, a team best since Vorhies has been coach the last four years.
"We keep improving every year," he said. "The only way we could compete with some of these teams would be to take it up a notch and compete year around."
Six of the nine competitors to qualify for state will return next year.
"Saturday wasn't a great way to finish but we had a great representation at state," Vorhies said. "There are 60 teams in Class 4A and we made it to state and qualified in four events for the finals. We'll see next year if we can come in a little more focused."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org