BLOOMINGTON — This time last year, Jennings County diver Hailey Brown was in a hospital with a feeding tube in her mouth, not knowing if she would ever be able to complete another dive.
A year later, she’ll be competing in the state finals.
A lengthy stomach ailment hospitalized Brown for a few weeks, but all that is behind her after advancing with a fifth-place finish in Tuesday’s Bloomington North Diving Regional. She scored 364.00 points.
“It took a lot of practice,” Brown said. “A lot of hard work and a few tears.”
Brown’s ticket to the state finals was never in jeopardy once the competition began. The sophomore ended the fifth round second out of 20 divers. She needed to place in the top 12 to make it past the eighth round and place in the top eight to make it out of the regional and onto state.
The competition got a little stiffer after the first cut, and Brown dropped to fourth at the end of the eighth round but still in no major threat of dropping out of the top eight. Her 274.10 score was 25.75 more than Whiteland’s Maria Campbell who was in eighth place at the time.
”It feels really good,” Brown said. “(At state) I plan on doing my best. I’m going to practice these next couple of days and just see what comes.”
Jennings County coach Kim Shepard said Brown is a hard worker, and he knew she was a good diver when he saw her dive as a sixth grader. He still plans on getting some good practice reps in for Brown to keep her fresh for the state meet.
“Just because she’s going to state, we’re not going to be easy,” Shepard said. “We’re going to work on all 11 dives.”
Columbus East diver Becca Bryan also competed in the regional, finishing 11th with a 326.5 score.
Bryan ended the fifth round in 14th place, needing to jump two competitors by the end of the eighth round to keep her hopes alive. She posted a 230.4 cumlative score to move up three places, but was unable to jump another three in the final round.
State diving prelims begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium. The top 16 make the finals, which will be held within Saturday afternoon’s swimming finals.