By Alicia Dziak

Wyatt Fuller, SGI sophomore, is heading to states to compete in diving on Friday, March 2. The competition will be held in Nassau County, Long Island.

“I will be competing in the preliminaries, which consists of five dives and then they make cuts and then if you score high enough, you move on to the semi-finals which consists of three dives. Again, they will make cuts and the top 16 move on to the finals, which consist of three more dives,” explained Fuller. “I will be competing against anyone in New York state who made the state qualifier of 450 points.”

Last year, Fuller finished fourth in Section VI with 356 points on the season which is now 106 points less than this season. Fuller, who is only in his second year of competitive diving, says he got into it by recent SGI grads who convinced him to give it a try. “I did gymnastics for many years which helped me with diving tremendously. I picked up quickly with diving because its similar to gymnastics,” he said.

“Wyatt participated in gymnastics for seven years prior to ever diving for SGI, which has helped him succeed,” agreed Ryan Dygert, who coaches Fuller, along with Duane Boberg. “He also has an exceptional work ethic and listens really well to any and all coaching.  He’s always aware of his body and how he needs to alter his form to rip the entry.”

Besides qualifying for states, Fuller said that other season highlights included going undefeated in dual meets, and credits his team with helping him get to this point. “My coach really pushes us and helps us tremendously with teaching us new dives and how to perfect old ones,” Fuller noted. “My teammates make practice fun and all the conditioning we do not too terrible and support me and help push me to do new dives.”

“Last year when Wyatt joined the team, I was pretty excited because then we had a full diving squad of three competitive divers with him, Dakota Schelble, and Jackson Richert,” said Dygert. “Wyatt has been undefeated in dual meets the past two years, and on numerous occasions, they’ve swept the top spots.  It’s been truly amazing to watch and experience because they’re all so lighthearted and just enjoy the sport and the team.  I’m excited to have this season go until states for Wyatt, but I’m already thinking to next year and how all three will be back.”

SGI has not sent a diver to states since 2010, when Richard Pokorny made it to that level for three consecutive years. Pokorny happened to be on the team with Dygert, who now gets to relive the glory days in a way. “Richard and I were on the team together at the time so it’s really special to see a teammate go his sophomore year, and to now see Wyatt go his sophomore year from a coaching perspective.”

While the physical challenge of diving is demanding, Fuller says it’s not the toughest part. “The mental challenge is the hardest part about diving. Learning a new dive can be scary and you tend to smack when you learn it,” he explained.

Before the state meet, Fuller says his practices will entail cleaning up and perfecting his dives to earn a higher score. His future goals in the sport include being top eight in the state in diving and beating the school records for diving. “More practice will help me work towards these goals,” he said.

“Wyatt is very physically fit.  He plays soccer and works out on an obstacle course which involves a lot of strength skills,” said Wyatt’s mom, Lisa Fuller, a math teacher at SGI high school. “He is pretty easy going so when he makes a mistake he seems to brush it off and try again.”

As a parent, watching her son in such a competitive sport can be a mix of emotions. “Last year during competition, I would close or cover my eyes many times when he would dive.  Any inward or reverse dives scared me the most,” she said.  “This year, I was much better and a lot less nervous.  I love watching him dive or compete at any sport. It’s exciting. The swim meets are very exciting in general; the diving is just a small portion.”

She attributes Wyatt’s success in the sport to his hard work as well as that of his coaches. “We are very proud of Wyatt,” Lisa said. “We’re happy for him that his hard work and dedication has paid off.  It’s great to see your child set goals for himself and then obtain them. “ She added that, “(Wyatt’s coaches) do a great job, putting in extra hours. They are very dedicated to the boys and maintain a positive team/family environment.”

Congratulations and good luck, Wyatt!