Barb Folsom raised her arms in celebration. She shouted "way to go, Alyssa!"
After finishing 24th and 25th as a freshman and sophomore, the first diver from Chanhassen High School to compete at state, senior Alyssa Konz found herself in third place into the final three dives of the Class AA State Swimming and Diving Meet Nov. 20.
Konz needed one more successful score on her final attempt. The Storm head coach's reaction said it all, even before the judges' scores were posted on the scoreboard.
Konz totaled 390.65 points, finishing second in the 11-dive competition at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota. Only Kaia Grobe and Zoe Avestruz placed higher in individual events at state in Chanhassen program history.
"She's worked so hard," Folsom said.
Konz, headed to the University of Iowa next school year, a chance to compete in the Big Ten, dedicated herself over the past 12 months. She made trips to Texas and Iowa for training, catching the eye of the Hawkeyes program.
The hard work culminating in a second-place finish behind Woodbury state champion Gabby Mauder of Woodbury and just ahead of Section 2AA champion Shanze Karimi of Edina; both teammates of Konz at the Minnesota Diving Academy.
"It was a lot more fun having my club friends. It was easier to relax, show support for each other, because we know each other, we love each other," Konz said. "After last season, I decided I wanted to dive in college, and after I made that decision I was all-in. I put a lot of effort in my training, worked to get stronger. Barb set-up an opportunity for me to go to Texas and train with her friend for two weeks, which was amazing."
Fourth through the preliminaries, Konz's fifth attempt didn't go as planned, as she hit the board, losing 20-to-30 points. Suddenly the Chanhassen senior was on the outside looking in at qualifying for the finals in the top-16.
"I think the reason I was able to pull it back together was because I was okay with the idea of being cut. Once that stress went away, I thought if these are going to be the last three dives of my high school career, I'm going to go out with a bang," Konz said.
Her seventh attempt scored a 38.25 from the judges, which included scores of 8 and 8 1/2. By the time the semifinals were complete after eight rounds, Konz, who registered a tournament-best 50.45 in her last dive, had moved from 17th to third place.
"Was I expecting to hit my last two dives? No. They are not my most consistent dives. But I wasn't complaining. I've never been able to hit my reverse-1-1/2 like that ever," Konz said.
Remaining composed, within herself, Konz returned to the finals on Nov. 20 and scored 44.85, 34.10 and 43.20 over her final three attempts to move up one position ahead of Karimi of Edina.
"This whole meet was about mental for everybody. All of us have worked really hard to get here. It's not all about our physical ability at this stage. It's about staying calm, having fun. I'm really glad I got to dive against some of my best club friends and really support each other," Konz said.
No doubt Konz will be back at the University of Minnesota venue for years to come with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
"The Iowa coach, Todd (Waikel), he sees potential in me. A year ago, I would have had no shot at diving (Division I). For him to know how far I've come, and know there's still more for me to grow, it's a great feeling," Konz, the school's 6- and 11-dive record holder, said.
ALL BACK FOR FINALS
Chanhassen was 6-for-6 in the pool in returning swims for Day Two, including four all-state finishes.
Avery Luedke, competing in her first high school season, reached the podium three times. The freshman used a final 50 yards time of 28.23 to pass two swimmer to place fifth in the 200-yard freestyle in a career-best 1:52.51.
Not to be outdone, Luedke came back in her second race, the 500-yard freestyle, to place fourth overall in 5:02.44. She moved up two positions from the preliminaries.
"We felt like I had the best shot at making the 'A' final here in those two events so we decided to go with those," Luedke said. "I was really happy with my times. I'm glad I was able to drop some more time."
While Luedke was taking part in her first state high school meet, teammates Zoe Thoma and Kalina Fuglie were taking part in their last.
Thoma, who qualified for her first individual swim at state, dropped more than a second in the consolation finals of the 200-yard freestyle, a time of 1:54.56, for 13th place.
Fuglie, a two-time state participant in the 500, qualified for her first championship finals with a career-best 5:03.40 in the preliminaries. Fuglie was just tenths of a second off that in the finals, a time of 5:03.62 for sixth place.
"It's been so fun to swim with Kalina and Zoe. They really helped me feel like part of the team, getting me used to everything. I'm really glad Kalina got to be on the podium with me in the 500," Luedke said.
Chanhassen, ninth in the Class AA standings with 103 points, finished off the meet with a season-best time of 3:33.83 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, moving up two spots from the seeds.
Thoma (54.29) was joined by three underclassmen in freshman Rachel Broadhead (55.15), sophomore Jennifer Pierson (52.74) and Luedke (51.65).
Chanhassen was 10th in the 200-yard freestyle relay behind legs from Thoma (25.41), freshman Anna Schottler (25.29), Pierson (24.26), and Luedke (24.25).
Luedke, who trains with the Aquajets, convinced club teammates Broadhead and Pierson, a former cross country runner, to join the Storm team, too.
"I really enjoyed those relays, getting to swim with those girls, and stand on the podium there with them in the last race," Luedke said.