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Girls Swimming and Diving: Confident Allie Rowland stays calm, qualifies for state diving meet

The Park Rapids sophomore finishes fourth on home boards to claim the final spot to the Class A meet.

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Allie Rowland performs a dive during the diving portion of the Section 8A girls swimming and diving meet at Park Rapids on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Rowland finished fourth to earn her first trip to the state meet.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise
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PARK RAPIDS – Being able to dive on her home boards gave Park Rapids sophomore Allie Rowland an advantage of earning her first trip to the state Class A girls diving meet.

Even though all four state diving qualifiers from last season were back, Rowland entered the Section 8A diving meet calm and confident of securing a state berth this season.

Because of a threat of a winter storm in northern Minnesota, the diving portion of the section meet was moved from Warroad on Friday (Nov. 11) to Park Rapids on Wednesday (Nov. 9). Rowland took advantage of diving on her home boards to lock up the fourth and final state bid.

“Hosting diving made it a lot more comfortable for her,” said Park Rapids diving coach Kristi Goochey. “She knew the boards. It’s always more comfortable whenever you’re diving in your home pool.”

That comfort zone paid off as Rowland claimed the final state berth by compiling a career best 341.40 points for fourth place.

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The Perham/New York Mills duo of Brittany Lorentz and Avery McAllister along with Detroit Lakes’ Hope Hamm were expected to secure the top spots again after those three went 1-2-3 at last year’s section meet and during this season’s Section 8A True Team and Mid-State Conference meets. Those three lived up to those expectations with Lorentz taking first, McAllister finishing second and Hamm placing third.

That left Rowland and Detroit Lakes’ Kylie Tulius battling it out for the other state berth. Tulius tallied 355.05 points to claim fourth place at last year’s section meet as Rowland finished fifth with 304.75 points.

Rowland was confident she could make up that difference this season and delivered by placing fourth after shattering her previous best of 316.70 as Tulius had to settle for fifth place.

“Before the season we made short-term and long-term goals and my long-term goal was to make it to state before I graduated. Midway through the season it hit me that I had a good shot at doing it this year,” said Rowland. “I knew it was going to be between me and Kylie. I knew going in it was going to be all mental and I couldn’t get down on myself. I knew I had to stay positive and loose.”

“I knew all season that she had a chance. Watching Allie dive and improve all season, I knew that she had an opportunity. It came down to a couple of things. She had to be confident and keep her cool on the harder dives. She had to not worry about the other divers. And she had to dive like Allie dives,” said Goochey. “I was pretty confident going in because she had a great warm up. At the beginning of the season, one of her goals was to get to state before she graduated. It was a shock to her to finish fourth, but she was pretty excited.”

Rowland and Tulius battled through 10 dives for that final state berth. It all came down to the 11th and final dive.

Rowland didn’t look at the scores until right before their final dives as the Park Rapids diver held a slim lead after 10 rotations. After Tulius nailed her final dive, Rowland knew what she had to do to become the seventh diver in school history to qualify for state.

“Before my last dive, I saw I had a 308 and Kylie had a 303,” said Rowland. “I had my favorite dive left and I told myself that I could do it.”

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Rowland nailed that final dive, scoring 33.15 points to earn the final state berth.

“I had a feeling that I would surpass my highest score. I have higher DD (degree of difficulty) dives and I’ve been nailing some of those higher DD dives,” said Rowland. “I was still surprised. I didn’t think it (my score) would be that high.”

“Kylie and Allie both missed a few dives. I wasn’t watching the scores, but I knew it was neck-and-neck,” said Goochey. “Allie totally nails her 1 ½ every time. It’s her favorite dive and she had to nail it again. If she would have been off by an inch or two, it wasn’t going to happen. She held her emotions in control and nailed it.”

Making some changes at the beginning of the season helped Rowland reach her goal of qualifying for state ahead of schedule.

“Allie made a huge jump this year. We changed a lot of things this year. Changing her mechanics was huge. We rebuilt her approach and built up her strength. She came in with some high DD dives, but we put in some higher DD dives,” said Goochey. “We prepared her for this from Day 1. She believed in me and became more comfortable and consistent and confident.”

Rowland will attempt to make the first and second cuts and advance to the finals when the state Class A meet begins with diving preliminaries at noon on Wednesday (Nov. 16) at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The diving finals will be held on Friday (Nov. 17) at noon. All divers will get five dives before cutting to the top 20. After three more dives, the top 16 will advance to the finals for the final three dives.

With her long-term goal accomplished, Goochey is looking for Rowland to use her state debut as a building block for the future.

“I want Allie to go down there, get experience, have fun and do her best with zero stress,” said Goochey. “Her first five dives are ones she’s good at and comfortable with. There’s no pressure this year. I told her to go have fun. This year we’ll see how she does and we’ll try to make the cut and finish in the top 16 the next two years.”

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“I’m really excited to go to state,” said Rowland. “It’s going to be a great experience. I’m going to do my best, have fun, focus on getting experience, and watch and learn from some really, really good divers.”

RELATED STORIES
The Panthers repeated as Section 8A True Team, Mid-State Conference and Section 8A champions while qualifying for state in 10 events.

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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