The GHS-BGM 400 Free Relay team finished in fifth place at the 2021 North Central Conference Meet on Saturday, Oct. 23. They are, from left: Josie Smith, Della Pease, Shiloh Smith, and Sydney Miller.
By J.O. Parker
Grinnell’s Trista Thompson is having a breakout year on the diving board.
A junior on the GHS-BGM Swimming and Diving Team, Thompson finished the 2021 North Central Conference Meet on Saturday, Oct. 23 at the Marshalltown YMCA with the top meet score of 475.60 (11 dives) and a number one state ranking.
“This was not her highest score but Trista has the hardest dive list in the state and every chance she has to complete her list is a step closer to being ready for the state meet,” said GHS-BGM Swimming and Diving Coach Sarah Smith.
Deidre Freeman Huff, a 2006 GHS graduate and Team USA professional diver, has been working alongside Coach Smith with Thompson and the other divers on the GHS-BGM dive team.
In addition to Thompson, Mariah VanErsvelde, a GHS-BGM diver placed 6th at the meet with a score of 227.90.
In addition, Thompson, Sydney Miller and the GHS-BGM Coaching staff received special honors at the meet. Each year, the coaches nominate and vote for Athlete of the Year, Academic Excellence, and Coaching Staff of the Year, all three of which were handed out to GHS-BGM.
“Athlete of the Year went to Trista Thompson, Academic Excellence went to Sydney Miller (senior, swimmer/diver with the highest GPA on the team), and Coaching Staff of the Year went to GHS and Oskaloosa (who tied for this award),” said Coach Smith.
This is Thompson’s third year to dive for GHS-BGM.
“I have been working hard and perfecting my dives,” Thompson said of her success.
Last winter, Thompson joined a club diving team, Midwest Diving Academy, and she has been spending more time in the water and working on her dives.
“It has been a lot of hard work,” she said.
When asked what she enjoys the most about diving, Thompson said she really likes that not every day is the same.
“It is based off how hard I work,” she said. “It makes me want to get better and better.”
“Trista has come so far in the three seasons I’ve been coaching her,” said Freeman Huff. “I’m so glad she decided to come out for diving. She has worked extremely hard this past year in the off-season, especially considering she did not have access to a diving board closer than an hour away. She was traveling to Iowa City and Omaha multiple times a week just to find a facility and coaching that was open during the pandemic.”
Thompson said it was her mother, Paula, who encouraged her to get involved in a sport. With a background in gymnastics, Thompson said she considered cheerleading, but opted for diving instead.
“I decided on diving because I thought it would be the closest to gymnastics,” Thompson said.
Trista currently holds the GHS 6 and 11 dive records, which were held by Freeman Huff until this season.
A number of other swim and dive team members also enjoyed success at the 2021 North Central Conference Meet. Following is an overview:
• Fourth place overall as a team
• Athlete of the Year (Trista Thompson)
• Coaching Staff of the Year (GHS and Oskaloosa tied for the award)
• First and sixth in diving (Trista Thompson and Mariah VanErsvelde)
• Fifth in 100 Fly (Josie Smith)
• Fifth in the 400 Free Relay (Josie Smith, Della Pease, Shiloh Smith, Sydney Miller)
• Academic Excellence award (Sydney Miller)
• Continued time drops
“With all of the success, I do want to point out that this is a grueling meet,” said Coach Smith. “The swimmers and divers are tired, they are pushing their bodies to the max, and it is physically and mentally exhausting.”
Coach Smith said it has been a couple of years since GHS-BGM finished that high at this conference meet.
The second swimming event, the 200 Free, saw time drops from Della Pease (2 secs, 2:17.89, 9th place) and Josie Smith (1 sec, 2:17.04, 7th place).
A couple of swimmers were not at the meet due to All-State tryouts so Trista and Mariah stepped up and helped out. Trista dropped a second in the 50 Free with a PR of 31.91.
In the 100 Fly, Josie Smith was the only swimmer to get on the podium for an individual event. She placed 5th with a time of 1:09.94.
“Going into the last event, we knew that we were ahead of Vinton Shellsburg Union by only two points and that we had to beat both of their relays to keep that place,” said Coach Smith. “The "B" relay of Chloe Alger, Amanda Small, Claire Behrens, and Cora Miller did a great job of placing ahead the VSU "B" relay. Our "A" relay was seeded with a two seconds faster time than the VSU "A" relay. Josie Smith got the 400 Free "A" relay off to a fast start with a PR of 1:01.94 and the relay placed 5th ahead of VSU "A" and a trip to the podium.”
“I was very proud of this year’s team for beating Vinton-Shellsburg Union by two points to finish in 4th place,” added Coach Smith. “It took determination and focus for that to happen by everyone on the team.”
All photos submitted
In addition to the participating in the 400 Free Relay Team for GHS-BGM, Sydney Miller was the All-Academic Award Winner at the 2021 North Central Conference Meet on Saturday, Oct. 23 in Marshalltown.
Josie Smith finished in 5th place in the 100 fly at the North Central Conference Swimming and Diving Championship on Saturday, Oct. 23.
GHS-BGM diver Trista Thompson was named the number one state ranking after posting the top meet score of 475.60 (11 dives) at the North Central Conference Swimming and Diving Championship on Saturday, Oct. 23. Trista also received Athlete of the Year honors at the meet.
Trista Thompson, center, the number one diver in the state, is joined by her coaches, Sarah Smith, left, and Deidre Freeman Huff, diving coach.