Matt Zuzic fell 12 spots from his fifth-place showing in last year's state diving meet.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANTON -- Canfield High senior diver Matt Zuzic let out a sigh and looked at his teammate, Jon Donadee.
"Not a good day," Zuzic said. "What are you gonna do?"
It was a tough day for Zuzic, who began the boys state diving championship on Thursday as one of the favorites to win the title. After finishing fifth last year, Zuzic took 17th overall, missing the finals by one place with 246.95 points.
"We hoped Matt would do a little bit better," said Nick Gavolas, who coaches the Canfield divers. "You can get down on yourself and it can snowball and I think that's what happened."
Donadee, however, had a solid showing, taking 12th with 374.65 points at the 75th annual state championship at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Another year: "I finished up bad, but I've got next year," the junior said. "I didn't do as well as I thought I could, but just being here is the important thing."
Donadee, who has been diving since seventh grade, just missed advancing to state last year.
"I bombed my last dive at that district meet and landed on my face," he said. "It didn't bug me that much [in the off-season], but it made me think, 'I was that close.' "
Nick Hanneman, a senior at Upper Arlington, took first with 476.45 points.
Experience: Donadee was hoping for a top-10 finish, but the experience gives him something to build on, Gavolas said.
"Jon did a lot of good things and that lays the framework for next year," he said. "I was very pleased with his performance."
Girls: Canfield freshman diver Kelly Reese had one more chance to make the Division I finals, and Gavolas was sitting on the edge of his seat.
"She needs to hit this dive [a reverse dive pike]," Gavolas said. "And this is not one of her better voluntaries."
She hit it. And she knew it.
"I messed up my back 1 1/2 [her previous dive]," Reese said. "So I knew I had to do good on that one."
Places 12th: After that, the pressure was off. Reese finished 12th out of 25 divers with a point total of 331.45.
"Kelly's performance came out of nowhere," Gavolas said. "I think it speaks for itself."
She was 17th after the preliminary rounds and saved her best dives for the finals.
"I just wanted to make it to state," Reese said. "I didn't really expect anything. I just wanted to be here."
Re-started: Reese grew up doing gymnastics and tried diving -- mainly platform diving -- before quitting two years ago. She started diving again last November.
"I had to beg her," Gavolas said.
She was one of only two freshmen in the event and, to top it off, she was the first diver in the first event on the first day of the state championship.
"I was really nervous just to start," Reese said. "But I just wanted to make it to state. Then I wanted to make it to finals."
Lewis Center Olentangy senior Carrie McCambridge won her second-straight Div. I title and third in four years. Emily Hunter, a junior at Cincinnati Indian Hill, took first in Div. II.
Similar scores: Reese had similar scores as McCambridge on her voluntary dives, but needs to improve her degree of difficulty to make it to the elite, Gavolas said.
"She'll get there," he said. "That comes with time. She's got a lot of talent and she's got a great disposition for diving. If she's nervous, she doesn't let it show.
"She could be one of the top divers in the state in a couple years."