Jasper diving trio heads to regionals

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper senior Kadon Hurm (front), junior Eli Hopf (middle) and fellow junior Bennett Schmitt (top) are all first-year divers in high school, but all three of them will be competing in Tuesday's Bloomington North regional.


JASPER — If someone at the beginning of the season told Kadon Hurm, Bennett Schmitt and Eli Hopf — all upperclassmen, but also all first-year divers — that the three of them would make it to regionals, none of them would have believed it.

But here we are.

Hurm, a senior, qualified for Tuesday’s Bloomington North regional after being the sectional runner-up Feb. 22 in his home pool. Schmitt rounded out the top three, and Hopf was the last of the top four divers eligible to qualify.

It goes without saying what it means for the Jasper trio to go to regionals, and for them to all go together.

“I think it’s really exciting that we all get to go together,” Schmitt said. “I think it will be fun. I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I didn’t get to go with them.”

“Like what Bennett said, if we weren’t all going, I don’t think it’d be near as much fun as it’d be with all of us there,” Hurm added.

The most experience any of them have stems back to Schmitt’s eighth grade year, when he dived briefly, not even the whole season, did not like it and did not come out as a freshman or sophomore. Schmitt credits senior Olivia Biggs, herself a regional diver this year, for convincing him to partake. Both Schmitt and Hopf plan on being back next year as seniors. Hurm credits Biggs and mother Tammy for wanting him to do it, while Hopf thought it would have been fun to try something new.

They may be late bloomers with respect to their classes, but they’re bloomers nonetheless. The divers gave mixed opinions as to whether they regret not diving earlier in high school.

“I just think I started off at the right spot — joined with friends and just grew to like it,” Hopf said.

“I wish I would’ve started earlier so I could’ve been even that much better this year,” Hurm said.

Schmitt noted how greatly eighth grade diving and junior year diving contrasted. The dives in high school are harder. The season is longer, and thus, he’s had to put more time into it. His favorite part is the team aspect and how close the divers have gotten throughout the season.

The trio qualifying for regionals as first-year divers also meant they have evolved along the way. Schmitt remembers being scared to go into the water head first when he was in eighth grade, something he had to get over. He was afraid of getting hurt when he gave it a second go, but he realized there was a point he just had to go for it, even if it’s a new, harder dive. Hurm talked about how much he has persevered throughout the season, and the repetition it takes to get a dive down if the dive isn’t correctly performed initially.

Jasper diving coach Kristy Vaughn told the Herald at the sectional meet that Hopf has come the furthest out of the three divers, and Hopf elaborated on that Monday.

“I came through not really knowing what to do,” he said. “I knew how to do a front flip and a back flip, but I didn’t really know any techniques or much about tucking until halfway through the season and I just started doing it and it worked.”

Hopf, Hurm and Schmitt all progressed as the season went on, and so did their confidence that regionals could be a possibility for them. Hopf thought later on in the season that it could happen, while Hurm thought he had a shot around the time of the Big Eight Conference meet, but Schmitt noticed it about halfway through the season.

“At the beginning of the season, my dives were all pretty simple and they weren’t extremely hard,” Schmitt said. “So, I never thought it was a possibility, but then I started learning harder dives, more complicated, so then I thought it was possible at that point.”

They’ve also pushed one another while all being in the same boat. They all feed off of one another, and the three acknowledged that they also compete against one another.

“Our scores have generally been close to each other, so it’s kind of competitive between the three of us,” Schmitt said.

“As a team, we want to win, but I still want to beat Kadon and Bennett even though they’re part of the team,” Hopf said.

“I’d say that we push each other and also, the dives that we do, if one of us gets a new dive, the other one’s going to try it and try to do something similar to it,” Hurm said.

The trio talked about the need to clean up the hard dives on Monday before turning right back around on Tuesday to make the trip up to Bloomington. Schmitt has a gymnastics background, and twisting dives came naturally to him. However, he also rushes, and thinks his reverse dives are his worst ones. Hopf thinks the back dive is his best, contrasting from what he thinks is his worst, the reverse one-and-a-half. Hurm called his front one-and-a-half and reverse flip his best dives, while his hardest ones are his back one-and-a-half and front double dives.

The event is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. The state meet for swimming and diving is Friday and Saturday. The pool of 20 divers is narrowed down to 12 for the final three dives, and the top eight advance to state.

“I think it’s possible, but it’ll be really tough, though, looking at the scores of other people that will be there,” Schmitt said. “There’s definitely divers there that will be better than all of us, but I think if we put together a good list of dives, then I think it’s possible to move on.”

“It’s possible we could move on, but we’re going to have to keep everything clean, and it’d just mean a lot to get to state,” Hopf said.

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