By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
ANFIELD SENIOR Jon Donadee watches "Rocky IV" before every big diving meet, and it's no longer just a source of motivation -- he's starting to live the movie.
He spends all of his free time training.
He calls Thomas Worthington sophomore Burkley Showe (his biggest challenger at Thursday's state meet), "My Ivan Drago."
He even brings his diving coach, Nick Gavolas, into the mix.
"He's the Mick to my Rocky," Donadee said.
Didn't Mick die in Rocky III?
"Yeah, that's true," Donadee said with a laugh. "[Gavolas] hasn't died. He's slipped down the stairs, but he's never died."
Donadee, Reese set
Jon Donadee, who has won sectional and district titles in the past two weeks, will join Canfield sophomore Kelly Reese as the only area divers to advance to Thursday's state meet in Canton.
Donadee and Reese each finished 12th at last year's state meet. Both are looking to do even better this year.
"Last year was a big confidence boost and I just decided I was going to do better," Donadee said. "A lot of people graduated last year and since I won the Viking Invitational earlier this year, I pretty much knew I was going to be at the top."
Reese usually listens to Red Hot Chili Peppers before a meet, but changed her routine slightly last week.
"Me and John watched [Rocky IV]," she said.
"You mean John and I," Gavolas said.
"I try to put the more important people first," Reese joked.
Reese was third
Reese placed third at this year's sectional and district meets, and said she feels more relaxed heading into Thursday's competition.
"I've been a lot less nervous about everything," she said. "I've added some harder dives this year and I've developed my jumping skills. I want to do better than I did last year."
Reese only practices her diving about four months a year -- her first love is volleyball -- which makes what she's done more impressive, Gavolas said.
"Kelly works hard, but if she worked year-round she could easily be looking at a top-six finish," Gavolas, who also coaches diving at YSU, said. "Right now, we're hoping for a top 10."
Donadee seeded third
Donadee is seeded third at state and is within striking distance of Anderson freshman Michael Guilfoil, who is seeded second. He's worked non-stop the past year, which is why he's been able to improve.
"He just decided to work his butt off," Gavolas said. "He's not anywhere near the most talented diver I've coached, but he's one of the hardest working."
It's paid off.
"When you coach kids like this, it makes my job more fun," Gavolas said. "There are some kids who spend the entire practice at the water bucket. These two get on the board at every opportunity.
"That's why they're going to state."