By Rob Kiser
TROTWOOD — A year ago, Piqua senior diver Isaac Karn had stunned Centerville’s Noah Hickey — who went on to finish third at state — by winning the GWOC diving crown.
Coming in as the favorite Thursday night didn’t make things any easier for Karn — but he held off Austin Flaute and Sam Wiedemann of Centerville to defend his title.
Karn didn’t think he had done that — until the scores were announced.
Karn finished with 296.4 in the six-dive competition, while Flaute had a score of 293.45 and Wiedemann had a score of 289.5.
“I thought I had finished second,” Karn said after receiving the first-place medal to a loud ovation. “Austin (Flaute) dove better than he ever had before. I really thought he had won.”
Piqua diving coach Laura Jackson agreed — and knew it was going to be a tight competition.
“I thought we had finished second,” she said. “Ike is deep — so in an 11 dive competition, that helps him. I knew it was going to be tight with a six-dive competition. There isn’t as much separation.”
Karn was the first of the top three divers to dive each round, with Wiedemann three divers behind him and Flaute the last diver to go each round.
“I don’t think it made any difference,” Karn said. “I was focused on my dives each round.”
Karn had been a picture of consistency through the first five rounds.
None of the five judges gave him a score lower than 6 — and he had several dives where all the scores were 7 or higher.
On his last dive, Karn was a little off and paid for it — he had a low score of 5 and a high score of 6.5 on that dive.
“He was definitely nervous,” Jackson said. “You could tell.”
On this run down the board, Karn was a little out sync.
“I was off on my hurdle (run down the board),” Karn said. “That didn’t help anything. But, no diver has their best dive every time.”
After watching Flaute’s final dive, Karn thought his fate was sealed.
“I really did think I was second,” he said. “Sometimes, degree of difficulty helps.”
The announcement brought a lot of hugs and cheers.
“I am just so proud of him,” Jackson said.
With bigger meets ahead — at sectionals and beyond —feels good about a second straight GWOC diving title.
“It does feel really good,” he said. “I really didn’t feel any different this year (being the favorite). I am just focused on what I am doing on my dives.”
Which was good enough to defend the “crown”.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.