There's 11 dives; the winner will be the one who executes them all.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- At last year's state meet, Canfield High diver Matt Zuzic finished fifth, behind four seniors.
So that makes him the favorite to win at Thursday's state diving championships at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, right?
"Yeah, you could say that," he said. "There's five of us this year that could take it, but I plan on winning it."
Zuzic, a senior, is sort of defined by his self-reliance. He doesn't play any other team sports and those he does play -- diving, snowboarding and skateboarding -- are individual by nature.
Heck, his favorite dive is even called the inward.
"I've never really swam," he said. "I'm not really good at that. And I guess I've never been on a team sport."
Independent fellow: He's independent -- and in a pressure sport like diving, that comes in handy. To win state, he must execute 11 dives -- five required and six voluntary -- on a 1-meter board.
And they all count.
"It really hurts your chances if you bomb a dive," Zuzic said. "It comes down to hitting all of them."
Dives are judged on a scale of 1-10. His hardest dive is called a 11/2 double twist. With the inward, he stands on the edge of the board and jumps looking into the board.
"It comes down to those five kids who have a shot," he said. "Whoever doesn't mess up, wins."
Zuzic was leading after seven dives at last weekend's district meet at Cleveland State University. He struggled at the end, but still finished in fourth, one place ahead of his teammate, junior Jon Donadee.
"I messed up a bunch at the end," he said. "But I came in just wanting to get to state. It wasn't about winning that meet."
Former gymnast: Zuzic started diving five years ago. He was a gymnast growing up, which made the transition to diving pretty fluid. He's only had one diving coach, Nick Gavolas, who is in the YSU Hall of Fame and has been a diving coach for over 25 years.
He's leaning toward attending the University of Toledo this fall to major in engineering. He'd like to keep diving in college and eventually wants to go to law school.
But that's then. For now, his mind is focused on Canton.
"I'm hoping me and Jon finish 1-2," he said. "That's the goal."