SPORTS: Port Angeles diver aims to win state 2A title and set meet scoring record this weekend

PORT ANGELES — Austin Fahrenholtz had two goals at the beginning of the season: Break the 400-point barrier and win state.

The Port Angeles High School junior diver easily achieved his first goal, twice, and now he is aiming for the Class 2A diving championship Saturday at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

The boys swimming and diving state championships are set for today and Saturday. Class 2A preliminaries start at 2:30 p.m. today and 2A finals begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Fahrenholtz, who captured second at state on the 3A level last year, shattered the West Central District meet record by 160 points last weekend and is looking at All-American recognition with his district score of 402.05.

That was the second straight meet that he scored more than 400 points this season.

“We’re hoping Austin wins state and breaks the state record this weekend,” Port Angeles diving coach Pete Van Rossen said.

“If he dives like he did last week at districts, he will win. His last two meets he has scored over 400 points, and that puts him at high school All-American status, and that is a nice feather in his cap.”

The 2A state meet record is 334.90, and that was set in 2009.

Fahrenholtz has the No. 1 seed going into state despite the fact that 2A defending champion Brian Drake of Squalicum, a senior, is returning to state.

Drake is seeded No. 2 with a district score of 382.60, which also would break the state 2A record.

“Drake is the only one Austin has to worry about,” Van Rossen said.

The top two divers are at a different level than the rest of the field, and Fahrenholtz says he is ready for the challenge of going against Drake.

“Brian is a good diver, a good competitor,” Fahrenholtz said after practice at William Shore Memorial Pool in Port Angeles on Wednesday evening.

“I expect a close meet but I plan to win.”

Despite the confidence, Fahrenholtz said he expects he will be a little nervous at first because of the extra pressure of being No. 1.

“There will be pressure on me but I dive better with good competition,” he said.

“There’s more pressure on you and so you focus more.”

Last year Fahrenholtz went to state seeded no higher than fifth after claiming third at the West Central District meet but surprised a few people by taking second overall at state.

He has since joined a club diving team at Bainbridge where he trains and competes every Saturday after getting up at 6:30 a.m. to make the trip to the pool.

The extra hours of training has helped him reach a new level of competition where he has been dominating at meets this season.

Fahrenholtz has put in so many hours of practice that most of his dives are automatic right now. He tries not to over-think himself when he’s on the diving board.

“I don’t think about what I’m doing, I just do it,” he said. “When you think about it, you can mess up.”

He also sticks to dives in competition that he is familiar with.

His signature dive that he can take to the bank is the front-double.

“I have been doing the forward-double since I was a freshman, so I have done it many times,” Fahrenholtz said.

Another key to Fahrenholtz’s success is that he is extremely good on the five required dives during 11-dive district and state competition.

“Austin scores high on the required dives, which include front, back and twists,” Van Rossen said.

Another strength for Fahrenholtz is being consistent in competition.

“One of my goals is trying to stay very consistent,” he said.

The junior athlete is excited about what could happen at state today and Saturday.

“It’s going to be great competition,” he said.

Fahrenholtz expects to win state and he knows he has the ability to win it all but he’s not going to beat himself up if it doesn’t happen this year.

“I still have another year left if Brian Drake scores over 400 and beats me,” he said.

No matter what happens, Fahrenholtz will continue to participate in club diving throughout the year and then he plans to dive in college.

The practical athlete said it doesn’t have to be a major college like the University of Washington. A smaller college with a good diving team would do as well.

“A scholarship would be nice but I will walk on if I have to,” he said.

By that time the star diver could very well have one or two state titles to his credit, starting with the 2A championship at this weekend’s meet.

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