Before entering high school, soccer was Kaemon Jiles’ primary sport.

But after a successful freshman year of diving at Columbus North, Jiles realized his future may be in hitting the water.

“It’s what I’m better at,” Jiles said. “I get that one more, so I focus on that one a little more than I do soccer.”

After qualifying for regional in diving as a freshman, Jiles was the regional champion and a state qualifier as a sophomore. Last year, he finished second in the regional and 13th at state.

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Jiles, who has been diving for five years, is shooting for a top-eight finish that would earn him a medal this winter.

“Going into freshman year, the whole time, I thought soccer was what I loved to do,” Jiles said. “But after freshman year, I thought all the accomplishments I had made in my first year of diving high school, I realized I could really do something with it, and I started focusing on diving a lot more than soccer.”

But at the moment, Jiles is squarely focused on soccer. He’s a starting outside back for the Bull Dogs, who have big games at Cathedral on Thursday and against crosstown rival Columbus East on Saturday.

Last year, Jiles played mostly forward and scored two goals. He started at right back in Thursday’s season-opening loss at Bloomington North.

“He was definitely an emerging talent last year,” North coach Andy Glover said. “His soccer talent is creative in nature and aggressive and effective. He really fulfills a role at right back nicely for our team.”

Jiles has welcomed the move to defense.

“I thought forward was a good position for me because I just would run a lot, but it never really clicked with me,” Jiles said. “Right back, I’m starting to understand it a lot faster and pick it up. I’m starting to read the game a lot easier that way, and I feel way more comfortable.”

Jiles is following in the footsteps of his older brother Keegan, who played on North’s Final Four team in 2007. Keegan Jiles also was a diver for the Bull Dogs.

Kaemon Jiles began playing soccer at age 6. He played three years with the Columbus Express Soccer Club.

“He’s always smiling and happy,” Glover said. “He enjoys being around his friends and enjoys soccer. His positive attitude is infectious and very much affects our team in a parallel manner.”

At the collegiate level, Kaemon Jiles is leaning toward trying to dive. He’s received a few calls and e-mails from diving programs and two letters from Division III soccer programs.

Jiles said he’ll likely take the business route and wants to be a human resource manager. He would like to dive for IUPUI.

“That’s definitely an ideal place just because they’re Division I,” Jiles said. “I know that they’re pretty decent at diving at least, and it’s close to home.”

North is coming off a 7-7-3 season. The Bull Dogs fell to Bloomington North 3-1, despite outshooting the Cougars 28-8.

Jiles is optimistic that North can bounce back.

“Out of any other season, this is the one I’ve felt most confident about because I’ve been playing with these guys since I can remember,” Jiles said. “We really have high hopes, and we want to make it to the state level this year. I’m real confident in our team, even though (Thursday) night was rough. I still feel like that was just a steppingstone for us, and we can learn from that and move forward.”

Kaemon Jiles

Name: Kaemon Jiles

School: Columbus North

Year: Senior

Sports: Soccer, diving, track

Favorite sport: “Soccer is my favorite sport when I’m playing soccer. Then whenever I start diving, diving is my favorite sport. I have equal love for both of the two, but it will switch depending on what I’m doing at the time.”

Other activities: Student Assembly, dance marathon

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.