Chagrin Falls’ Samantha Holtz close fourth in Division II girls state diving – News-Herald

CANTON — Samantha Holtz kept her approach pretty consistent Feb. 23 during the Division II girls state diving competition.

The Chagrin Falls sophomore and two-time D-II district champion, 13th in the diving order, went through her visualizations of each dive and envisioned her contortion by the wall between two pillars behind the board right before she dove.

She’d take a peek to see how a fellow Clevelander, Revere’s Peyton Thurman, fared on her dives early in each round.

As far as the competitive part, she has that consistency locked in as well, with two more exciting winters left to build toward a state title.

Holtz took a close fourth at Canton McKinley’s Branin Natatorium with a score of 449.30.

With that fourth, paired with her third a year ago as a ninth-grader, The News-Herald coverage area standard-bearer in the sport on the girls side is the first Chagrin girls diver in school history to crack the top four at state at least twice and the third overall. She joins good company in that latter regard in former Tigers’ boys program fixtures Jamie Englhardt (third in 2009 and first in 2010) and Peter Nachtwey (fourth in 2016 and second in 2017).

“It was really thrilling,” Holtz said. “I’m so privileged to be able to compete in this sport with amazing divers. It’s really all thanks to my coaches. I think I had a great set of 11 dives today, and I had a lot of fun.”

Holtz’s best work throughout the morning came on the tail end of rounds.

In prelims, she had a 49.40 in Round 4, a forward 2 1/2 somersault pike, that was followed by a 42.55.

The semifinals was seemingly a spot in which some points didn’t quite come as well as Holtz would have hoped, though, with a high 36.75 among those three dives.

Amid that, the top three — Cincinnati Wyoming’s Grace Courtney, Defiance Tinora’s Lauren Melia and Napoleon’s Mara Cashman — began to separate from the pack, particularly Courtney, the reigning D-II state champion, and Melia.

“Yeah, I think some of my dives definitely could improve,” Holtz said. “But that’s definitely for next year. Hopefully, I’ll be back in this pool competing against these same girls. So I’m excited.

“(The top three’s form) definitely catches my attention. I’ve known those girls for a while now. Grace Courtney is such an amazing diver. I love spending time with her. I’ve seen her in USA Diving as well over the summer. It was a real pleasure diving with her today. They’re amazing.”

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