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College recruiting trips delayed Lucy Hogan’s debut as a diver in her return to the program at Evanston Township High School this fall.

But Hogan made it worth the wait Saturday, dominating the field at the Northside College Prep Invitational and proving that she hasn’t skipped a beat after missing her junior year of high school competition.

Hogan’s individual focus on 3-meter and platform diving last year didn’t prevent a smooth transition back to the 1-meter event for high school. Saturday, she broke the pool and meet records with a winning 11-dive total of 469.20 points and was rewarded with three judges scores of 9.0 during the competition.

Evanston teammates Jamie Otwell and Amelia Carlson placed 3rd and 6th respectively, with scores of 367.95 and 299.35, in a field of 13 competitors.

The Illinois High School Association state runnerup in both 2015 and 2016, Hogan is the odds-on favorite to add a state championship to her resume when the state finals are held at the ETHS pool next month. She didn’t exactly ease back into the high school season Saturday — not with a diving list that featured 7 dives with a degree of difficulty of 2.2 or higher — and, if there was any competitive rust for the ETHS senior to shake off this weekend, it wasn’t apparent Saturday.

 Hogan kept up her usual practice schedule  once preseason workouts began, but a bye week in the ETHS schedule and college trips to Ohio State, Harvard, Texas and Michigan kept her out of actual competition until Friday’s dual meet at New Trier. She scored Evanston’s only individual win in a 120.5 to 65.5 loss to the Trevians, ruling her specialty with a 6-dive score of 272.70.

Hogan announced  her intention to compete for Michigan last week and can now focus on the immediate future.

“Besides my official visits, I took an unofficial visit to Michigan last October and I really liked it there,” Hogan said. “My Mom and my Grandpa both went there, too. I think Michigan is the best combination of athletics, the team, the coach and the academics and I’m really hoping to get into the business school there.

“Last night (versus New Trier) I didn’t hit my dives as well as I could, but today I hit them pretty good. I am kinda sad that I didn’t get to be with the seniors last year, but I’m still glad I took the time to practice other events besides 1-meter. My strength has improved, but I missed the team. They’re all so great.”

“This has turned  into a short season for Lucy, but now she’s back 100 percent,” said Wildkit diving coach Aaron Melnick. “She’s got so much talent and now it’s just a matter of her figuring some things out. She made some mistakes today, and the goal by the end of the season is not to make any mistakes anymore.

“She got a pool record today and I’m hoping she can do that everywhere she goes this year. She is the odds-on favorite to win State. There’s no doubt that everyone else is looking at her as the one to go after, and rightly so. She just needs to get  back to being more comfortable at 1 meter.”

Only one other diver in Evanston’s school history — Hall of Famer Lona Foss — has achieved a state title, but Hogan said having the target on her back in her final season isn’t that daunting.

“I’m hoping I’m the one to beat, and I’ll do my best and then wherever the chips fall, they fall,” she said. “Winning a state championship is definitely on my bucket list. But there’s less pressure on me now because I know where I’m going to school. It would be exciting to win State at Evanston (site of the state finals) my senior year. If I don’t win? I’ll be sad, but it won’t be something that’s crushing to me.”

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.

Dennis Mahoney

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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