MISHAWAKA — Hobart diver Eli Mercado made school history Tuesday night.
Mercado became the first Brickie to qualify for the state diving finals after placing fifth at the Mishawaka Diving Regional.
“I can’t be any more excited about it,” Mercado said. “I practiced so hard and my coach pushed me beyond my limits.”
Lake Central’s Alex Morgan placed fourth to earn a repeat trip to the IUPUI Natatorium. He placed 12th at the state finals a year ago.
Mishawaka Marian’s Josh Richardson won his second straight regional title with a new pool record total of 496.80.
Mercado steadily climbed up the leaderboard to get into qualification position. He was 12th after the opening three dives, and moved into seventh position after six dives.
“(Mercado) did what he needed to do,” Hobart diving coach Katie Rinas said. “He works on doing the same dive over and over again in practice so that when he gets on the board, it isn’t a big deal and that helped him. We told him it was always one more like he’s done before.”
He was fifth heading into the final three dives and maintained his position and finished with a total of 431.90 to secure a spot in the state finals.
“You’ve got to work hard and that’s the only way you can get here,” Mercado said. “No matter what, you have to take chances and just go for everything. You can’t settle for less.”
Morgan was in eighth after the first three dives. He scored a combined total of 84.15 on his seventh and eighth dives to move into the top four, where he stayed for the remainder of the meet. Morgan had a final total of 433.20.
“I’m proud that even though I didn’t have a great meet, I still stuck it out and qualified for state,” Morgan said. “When I first started this sport, I said to myself, ‘Someday I want to be at the level where I can do bad and still be good.’ The fact that I’ve reached that goal fills me with a lot of pride.”
Crown Point’s Gabe Taylor finished 10th, while the Valparaiso duo of Nick Schwartz and Ryan Bledsoe were ninth and 12th, respectively.
Portage’s Kamryn Crosby (13th), Highland’s Griffin Grider (14th) and Crown Point’s Milton Roberts (15th) reached the semifinal rounds but did not qualify for the final three dives.