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Kavanagh Makes a Comeback: Wins State Diving Crown After Two-Year Hiatus from High School Competition

Greta Kavanagh was a brand new name on the IHSA diving championships, but her state title was a protracted time coming.

Kavanagh made a mark on the scene as a Loyola Academy freshman, placing fourth on the sectional in 2020, with due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a shortened season with no state finals.

The following two years, Kavanagh, a Lake Forest resident, focused on her skills, competing with a neighborhood club (Glenbrook Aquatics) as a substitute of as a Rambler. But winning state never left her mind, something the state discovered this season when Kavanagh returned to IHSA competition as a Loyola senior.

“I just wanted to indicate everyone my diving and what hasn’t been here for the past 4 years,” she said. “It was really nerve-racking.”

Greta Kavanagh with flowers and a first-place medal following the state diving competition.

And it wasn’t easy. Kavanagh’s 11-dive point total on the state championships held Friday-Saturday, Nov. 10-11, at FMC Natatorium in Westmont was 480.8, just ahead of runnerup Maggie Bendell, the reigning state champion out of Cary-Grove, and her 479 points.

Fremd’s Jacqueline Genet was third with 475.3, followed by Oswego East’s Katherine Malm (462.6) and Stevenson’s Lada Volkov (459.7).

Kavanagh was in second place after the opening rounds (5 dives) and first place after the semifinal round (3 dives) on Friday, Nov. 10, moving to the ultimate day with lower than a one-point advantage (356.05 to Bendell’s 355.7).

It wasn’t until the beginning of Saturday’s finals that Kavanagh created a cushion at the highest, and she or he did it together with her first dive: a reverse 1 1/2 somersault pike. The dive carried a 2.4-point difficulty rating, tied for her highest on the weekend, and she or he nailed it, earning a rating of fifty.4, tops within the round and Kavanagh’s highest rating of the weekend.

“Leading off the finals with a reverse is a gutsy move,” Loyola diving coach Tony D’Amico said. “It paid off.”

But it surely almost didn’t.

D’Amico said the Ramblers diver had “somewhat of a disastrous hurdle” — or approach — on the finals-opening dive but Kavanagh recovered and accomplished the pivotal dive.

To D’Amico, Kavanagh’s composure under pressure was key to her state championship performance and her 2023 season, during which she didn’t lose a meet.

“That’s really hard to do,” he said of adjusting on a hurdle. “She’s only a natural acrobat. … She’s great at not losing her focus. She doesn’t let highs and lows throw her off, which is difficult in a meet like this that is difficult and long.

“She’s a natural talent, natural acrobat and natural competitor and she or he doesn’t get rattled. Those are things that may make you excellent on this sport.”

Kavanagh will proceed diving next 12 months with the Badgers of the University of Wisconsin.

Kavanagh finished off her state-finals performance with dives scoring 39.1 and 38.25, respectively, to carry on to her lead and claim the state championship. She is Loyola Academy’s third diving state champion joining Lisi Rowland in 2007 and Elysse Rowland in 2005.

Kavanagh, who will dive for the University of Wisconsin at Madison next season, is the primary diver to top 480 within the IHSA finals since 2015 (Sydney Dusei, Naperville Central).

“I wanted it for thus long,” she said of a state championship. “It feels really good to finally get here and be here and win.

“It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel real yet. I didn’t think it might occur.”

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