Trevor Nelson and Henry Goodman provided Evanston’s best 1-2 scoring punch this year and nothing changed Saturday at the Niles North Sectional qualifying meet.
But the two Wildkit divers will have some company next weekend at the Illinois High School Association state swimming and diving finals at New Trier High School.
Teammates Rafael de Gouvea (100-yard butterfly) and Charlie Duffy (50-yard freestyle), plus two relay teams, earned the right to advance after leading the Wildkits to a 2nd place finish in the team standings.
New Trier, which finished behind ETHS at the conference meet, won the team title with 287 points to 243 for Coach Kevin Auger’s young squad in the 12-team field.
Nelson repeated the diving title he won as a junior with a scintillating score of 551.00 points and Goodman earned runnerup honors with a career-best 485.20. The senior duo had to work hard to get the competitive juices flowing on Saturday morning because the competition included just 4 other divers.
As Goodman pointed out, the warmups in between dives took more time than the actual competition. But the two ETHS standouts kept their focus.
Nelson? His focus is on winning the state championship at the two-day test at New Trier and he’s favored to do just that. Saturday, he earned a total of eight scores of 9.0 from the judges and a couple of 9.5s during his 11 dives.
“I actually thought today my dives were better than last year (when he set the school record) up until that last round,” Nelson said. “It’s always tougher when there’s no real competition. I’ve worked a lot this year on self-motivation and trying to do the best I can no matter what. Next week I’ll be up against 47 other guys and I know I’ll be motivated.
“On that last round (3 dives), obviously there was not a lot of pressure on me to do well. Next week when the pressure IS on, I’ll definitely have to step up and perform.”
Nelson’s list includes degrees of difficulty of 3.0 (reverse 2 and a half somersault tuck) and 3.1 (inward 2 and a half somersault tuck) and he scored a combined 94 points to nail down his victory on those last two attempts.
“I like having the harder stuff at the end of my list,” the senior confided. “Because that’s when you can rack up the most points. For me, today was more like a step to State that I had to do, not really about winning the sectional again. My back twister and my back one and a half are getting better --- I’ve been working on the fine details --- and that had a big impact on today. Having confidence in those dives really helps.
“I’m really excited for next week. If I dive consistently for two rounds, I think I have a pretty good shot to win it.”
Goodman punched a ticket to the IHSA finals for the first time with his runnerup performance and drew a couple of 9.5s from the judges as well.
“I’ve had some 9s before, but they judge you easier at sectional to get more guys to State,” he pointed out. “It was my best (11-dive) score and I was solid for the most part. My first and second dives were a little shaky, and so was my last one, but it was one of my better meets. I’m still looking to try to do better next week.
“This is my first time going to State. When I was in club I always thought it was normal for lots of guys to go to State, but then when I got to high school I found out the rules that you could only enter 2 guys. I was behind both Trevor and Harel (Anolick, a 4-time state qualifier) and I was disappointed because I knew I’d only get one chance to make it, when I was a senior. But I hung in there and waited for it, and now I want to enjoy it and finish as high as I can.”
“Our goals for State? The goal is for Trevor to win it, and I’d like to see Henry in the top 6 or 8,” said ETHS diving coach Aaron Melnick. “Trevor left himself a little bit open on his reverse today or his scores would have been a little higher. But the most important part of today is getting in and qualifying for State. They both showed today that they have the dives and the scores to be a part of that championship level next week.
“There is Trevor on pressure to win it, but it’s that pressure that pushes him. He likes and needs to know that winning isn’t automatic. He wants to beat everyone and he knows he can beat the guys who are fighting for those (top) spots. And I think Henry’s got a shot at that upper level, too.”
It wouldn’t be the IHSA finals without de Gouvea’s presence on deck. He qualified for the fourth straight year by capturing first place honors in the 100 butterfly after previously representing ETHS in the 50 freestyle and on relays.
His winning time of 51.23 seconds earned a clear-cut win over runnerup Matt Gibson of New Trier (51.41) and represented a season best. He also combined with sophomore Duffy, freshman Charlie Herrick and freshman Aaron Martin for an automatic qualifying time of 3:12.42, a sizzling 8 second drop for the previous ETHS season best. De Gouvea’s anchor leg of 47.13 sealed the deal.
In the 200 freestyle relay, the Wildkits also qualified with a third place showing as de Gouvea, Santiago Ramos-Torrescano, John Martin and Duffy were clocked in in 1:26.67.
Duffy was Evanston’s other individual to advance, third in the 50 freestyle in 21.74.