Schmitt to dive for Jasper at state

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper senior Bennett Schmitt is competing as a diver Saturday at state at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. 


JASPER — The odds didn’t appear to be in Bennett Schmitt’s favor on Tuesday, but he didn’t care, and he defied the odds.

Schmitt entered the Jasper Diving Regional ranked in the No. 13 out of 20 divers, with the top 12 divers making it to the regional finals and the top eight making their way to state. However, the senior Jasper diver outperformed his ranking and knew that he had a good shot to make his way to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis after the first five dives. All Schmitt had to do after that point was stay the course, and his score of 365.75 netted him an eighth place finish and a berth at state.

“I kind of like being the underdog,” Schmitt said. “...I think when you’re higher, there’s more pressure on you, and I think I was just able to relax and dive clean — knowing that I could only move up from my spot.”

Everything that Schmitt has been through has led to this — when he took to the diving board one last time in high school at Saturday’s IUPUI boys state diving meet. He didn’t dive his first two years in high school before he came out for his junior year, and he finished in the top half at the 2020 diving regional when he came in 10th place out of 20 divers. Schmitt earned himself a spot on the podium again this year on Feb. 20 at the Jasper diving sectional as the runner-up, as a championship slipped through his hands to senior teammate Eli Hopf.

“Saturday wasn’t really his best performance — we knew he was capable of being a little bit better,” Jasper diving coach Kristy Vaughn said. “Bennett is very methodical and analytical. So, I think snow days and not having practices really hit him a little harder than some of the other guys. So, I expected him to be better Tuesday.”

Schmitt saw it as a big deal just to be one of the final 12 divers at the regional — it was that that was his initial goal, along with getting back to where he was last year. But he felt good about the way he dove after the first five dives, and realized he was in a position to move on. Schmitt didn’t get ahead of himself, but his aspirations changed from being a regional finalist and getting back to where he was as a junior to qualifying for state as a senior.

“I think I was more confident in my dives last night than I was last year,” Schmitt told the Herald on Wednesday. “I changed my approach this year, and it was a little rough in the beginning, but it’s definitely helped my dives, I think, just be more consistent and it’s given me more confidence in all of them.”

He believes his gymnastics background has carried over to his success off the diving board. Schmitt was mostly a floor tumbler during gymnastics — which he began in elementary school to try something new, and stopped doing in eighth grade. However, even though he stopped gymnastics and he started diving late, he felt the carryover was significant.

“I think body awareness is really key in both sports,” he said in a text message to the Herald on Friday. “So, that has definitely helped me in diving.”

“He had a really good gymnastics background underneath him,” Vaughn said. “Then it’s just a matter of translating board work and finishing things — learning how to land on your head, as where gymnastics, you’re always landing on your feet.”

As he represents Jasper at IUPUI, he is be the first Wildcat to dive at state since Sarah Smith in 2017 — when Schmitt when was an eighth grader. One would have to go back even further — two years earlier, when he was in sixth grade, when Austin Young was the last male diver Jasper sent to state.

“I’m just hoping to perform my dives to the best of my ability, and I’ll just see where I end up at the end of the meet.” Schmitt said in his Friday text message to the Herald.

“I’m just hoping to perform my dives to the best of my ability, and I’ll just see where I end up at the end of the meet.” Schmitt said in his Friday text message to the Herald.

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