Penning earns state medal in diving
After placing at last year's state Class A girls diving meet, Kyja Penning raised her expectations in her second trip to state. Penning was looking to become the first diver in the history of the Park Rapids girls swimming program to bring home a...
After placing at last year's state Class A girls diving meet, Kyja Penning raised her expectations in her second trip to state.
Penning was looking to become the first diver in the history of the Park Rapids girls swimming program to bring home a state medal. The Park Rapids junior fulfilled that mission by claiming the final state medal and earning all-state honors with 289.75 points for eighth place Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
"I'm still on cloud nine," said Penning, who finished 16th with 242.30 points in her state debut last season. "Last year was good experience for me. I knew if I stayed calm and did well, I had a good chance."
"Kyja went there to dive," said Park Rapids diving coach Kristi Goochey. "She was as calm as could be. At state you have to earn your scores and Kyja did that. It's pretty exciting. I'm so proud of her."
After Thursday's first five dives, Penning was in fourth place with 142.85 points. Spring Lake Park's Tori Raihle led the 32-diver field with 155.80 points while Austin's Courtney Fleming was second with 151.05 points and Chisago Lakes' Alex Thomsen was third with 148.15 points.
Detroit Lakes' Shayna Dugger, the Section 8A champion, was in 17th place with 120.10 points as the top-20 divers advanced. The other two Section 8A qualifiers - Detroit Lakes' Taryn Kobriger and Bre Halbur - missed the cut. Kobriger finished 22nd with 114.80 points and Halbur was 25th with 111.30 points.
"We stacked Kyja's dives so she would advance," said Goochey. "We put her best five dives first so she would be toward the top. We were hoping she would stay at the top."
During Thursday's final three dives, Penning slipped to seventh place but was still in good position to claim a medal. Entering the finals, Penning had 214.75 points to trail Raihle (246.30), Mankato East/Loyola's Ashley Thorldahl (221.10), Melrose's Jessi Haider (218.10), Dugger (217.50), Fleming (217.10) and Thomsen (216.05). Right behind Penning were Sauk Rapids' Chelsey Bethke (214.40) and Chloe Timm (205.00), Richfield's Kelsey Metz (204.95) and St. Peter's Alissa Lager (204.50).
During Saturday's finals, Penning stayed in seventh place after her first two dives and was in seventh place with two divers remaining. Penning dropped one spot, but was able to capture the final all-state honor. By placing eighth, Penning scored 11 points to give Park Rapids 39th place in the team standings.
Raihle won the state title with 350.50 points while Bethke was second with 323.00, Haider took third with 309.95 and Thorldahl was fourth with 308.25. Dugger finished fifth with 307.40 points while Lager (300.20) and Thomsen (293.95) followed. Penning edged Fleming's 287.55 and Timm's 283.45 for the final state medal.
"My last two dives (in the first round) were really good and my next three dives were decent," said Penning, who was the Section 8A runner-up with 342.30 points. "I wasn't on in the finals. I knew I would get either ninth or eighth. I'm glad I got eighth."
"Kyja worked hard for this," said Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze. "Kyja is a much stronger diver this year. She was focused and relaxed. It's pretty cool to not only make the finals, but to medal."
"Kyja did an awesome job," said Goochey. "She has a good chance to bring home another medal next year. I foresee Kyja continuing to get better and moving upward."
"I want to medal again next year," said Penning. "I'd be happy with eighth again, but it would be cool to do better."
Visitation, which set four of the eight state records, repeated as state champs with 268 points. Monticello was second with 197, Sartell-St. Stephen was third with 162, Hutchinson was fourth with 156 and Fergus Falls (the Section 8A champion) was fifth with 145. Detroit Lakes finished 17th with 45 points and Warroad was 24th with 26 points.