Trowbridges make it two straight

Bobcats’ twin divers qualify for state meet again

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior divers Sami, left, and Alli Trowbridge, right, stand on the podium next to first-place winner Annie Noll, from Dowling Catholic, after they receive their second and third place medals at the regional diving meet at Grinnell College on Thursday.

GRINNELL — The regional girls swimming and diving meets got underway on Thursday, and just like last year the Marshalltown girls swimming and diving team was awarded two spots at state at the conclusion of the diving portion.

Juniors Alli and Sami Trowbridge will represent the Bobcats once again at the state meet, finishing in second and third respectively in their regional pool.

Alli, whose 11-dive score of 420.65 was good enough to tie for the 10th-best qualifying mark, said getting to dive for MHS at state for a second-straight year is something she’s looked forward to for a long time.

“I am really excited actually, I am so glad to do it another year. It’s a good experience,” Alli said.

Sami finished regionals with a score of 408.3, good enough for her best 11-dive score of the year. After finishing sixth in the state meet last season, Sami enters this year’s state meet with the 12th-highest qualifying mark, and she said everything as a whole went as well as she expected in regionals.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior Sami Trowbridge reaches the apex of her dive during the early going of the regional diving meet at Grinnell College on Thursday. Sami and her sister Alli both earned state qualifications with their performances at the meet.

“I think everything went very well, I threw a new dive today that I haven’t ever done, so that went well for me and I am just ready if I make it to state to work at practice and get better,” she said.

Both Alli and Sami added a new dive to their arsenal before coming into the regional competition, something head coach Angie Nelson said made a difference in their scores on the night.

“Alli had a new dive on her list tonight, a back-and-a-half. She did a great job with that, we took her back somersault off the list and added a back-and-a-half and that made a huge difference in her confidence level,” Nelson said. “Sami also threw a back-and-a-half for the first time, they have been working on them all week long and it was a great pump-up for the end of Sami’s list.”

Switching up a diving list the week before a state qualifying meet seems like a possibly dangerous decision, but Nelson said after seeing the girls perform the dive and knowing the alternative, the decision essentially made itself.

“You look at it from a mathematical standpoint and you make that choice based on the point award that’s possible and the point award we’ve been averaging,” Nelson said. “The back-and-a-half was an easy choice for both of them to add to the list, Sami’s back dive isn’t her most awesome dive and Alli’s back somersault isn’t her most awesome dive. Mathematically it was just an easy choice.”

Though she didn’t finish with a state qualification, Bobcats junior Cari Gassman also had a nice meet with a score of 273.85, good enough for a sixth-place medal and a podium finish. Nelson said Gassman also used a dive she hasn’t had much experience with in competition but it paid off well.

“Cari threw her double for only the second time in competition tonight, so that’s spectacular,” Nelson said. “A lot of growth, a ton of improvement from her this year so that’s very, very promising.”

Unlike the usual six-dive event that happens in the middle of a swim meet, these bigger 11-dive meets take a lot of focus and energy to complete. Gassman said during the downtime between her dives, she tries to keep her mind on the task at hand.

“You just have to stay positive and keep thinking about your dives and how you are going to throw them,” Gassman said. “Stay calm and do it all.”

Alli also said she focuses on each and every dive she has coming up, and once she’s thrown one dive she instantly moves on to the next on her list.

“While I’m doing 11 dives I just have to focus on each one and take one dive at a time,” she said. “Don’t worry about the rest and what I’ve done so far, just what I can do right now to improve my score.”

With the experience all three girls have on the board, Nelson said she hardly worries about them keeping their minds in the right place during the long layover between dives, and she said each of them handles the pressure in different ways so obviously she coaches them differently.

“This is really unusual for me to be sitting over here, I am usually in the scoring portion, so I am a little out of my element sitting over here with them,” Nelson said with a chuckle. “Their personalities are all so different, and I think it helps being able to work with them all these seasons and them being juniors and knowing how they react to different situations this season and last season. You can kind of put the puzzle pieces together, we give them little reminders of things to think about but these girls know their business. I am impressed with how well they know their business, they know they have to take it one dive at a time and when a dive is gone you erase that from the chalkboard and start with the next one.”

Of course, Alli and Sami have an added bit of competition in their meets, as neither sibling particularly likes losing to the other. Sami said they’ve been that way with each other since a young age, and that desire to out-do the other sibling just pushes their game to a new level.

“We both push each other to be better, we always have since we were little,” Sami said. “It’s nice having her to practice and compete with, since we’ve been competing all our lives.”

Alli, who’s had the better year on the scorecard this season, said the competition between the two doesn’t even come down to who finishes higher on the podium, it’s more about who pushed themselves harder.

“We have always competed against each other and we push each other a lot so it helps,” she said. ” We don’t really look at the place that we do or how we do compared to each other, we just always push each other to do better.”

Nelson said she wants to bring a little bit of that pushing to the swimming pool on Saturday, where the Bobcats swimmers will have a little extra motivation knowing they were represented well on the diving board.

“I think it helps them tackle their business too and keep their head in the game,” Nelson said of what the swimmers can take away from the divers’ performance. “They know if they swim well good things are going to happen, so I am looking forward to that. If you look at the marked improvement from even the first of October to now, all three of the girls tonight did an amazing job and I look for the same on Saturday with swimming.”

The swimming portion of regionals is set for a noon start time on Saturday in Indianola.