Cuyahoga Falls' junior Nicole Rozsa couldn't stop sobbing.

She stumbled on the board and did not execute the dive she hoped she performed.

And to make matters even worse, it was her last dive of the meet.

"I thought she blew it," Lady Black Tigers head coach Peter Nauman said.

As a result, Rozsa got zero points on her last dive and finished seventh.

Fortunately for Rozsa, seven turned out to be the lucky number.

Rozsa and teammate Erika Shane advanced to the Division I state meet for the second consecutive year.

Shane, a sophomore, placed fourth with 401.25 points and Rozsa scored 353.1 points at a Division I district diving meet Feb. 14 at Cleveland State University's Robert F. Busbey Natatorium. The rest of Falls' swimmers were set to compete Feb. 16. Results were not available at press time.

Shane and Rozsa were locked into the fourth and fifth spots for most of the competition. And then Rozsa's frightening experience took place with everything on the line.

"It was pretty close," Nauman said of Rozsa's finish. "I know the eighth-place diver wasn't far behind. That last dive cost her 35 to 40 points. Fortunately, she didn't have to wait long to find out. One mistake can cost you the whole thing."

Thankfully, it didn't.

As for Shane, she gained a lot of confidence after a stellar performance.

"Erika was awesome," Nauman said. "She wasn't that far from third."

The two divers are scheduled to dive at the state meet Feb. 21 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. Diving is set to begin at 9 a.m.

"It was nice to see both of them on the podium," Nauman said. "We're thankful that we have another week to dive."

Falls placed eighth with 131 points at the 16-team Akron North Division I sectional, which concluded Feb. 9 at the University of Akron's Ocasek Natatorium.

Hudson easily won the competition with 482 points and Walsh Jesuit (228) and Brunswick (218.5) finished second and third, respectively.

Nine Lady Black Tigers qualified for the district competition.

"They did awesome," Nauman said. "This is the most we've had qualify for districts since I've been here. Just about all of the girls had their lifetime bests. They've learned to swim in a pressure environment."

Shane and Rozsa got the ball rolling for Falls.

Rozsa advanced after placing second with a score of 409.35 points and Shane finished fourth (381.85).

Lady Black Tigers' swimmers Jenna Kassinger Natalie Hillyer and Marcy Spann qualified for the district competition in four events.

Kassinger placed 13th with a time of 25.69 in the 50 freestyle and 14th in the 100 butterfly (1:03.97).

Kassinger, Hillyer and Spann also were part of the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams.

They joined Sam Nockengost on the seventh-place 200 freestyle relay (1:45.3) and Allie Nockengost on the 400 freestyle relay (3:53.66).

Hillyer also qualified in the 200 individual medley (11th, season-best 2:20.06) and the 500 freestyle (ninth, 5:28.74).

Spann, a freshman, added a seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:2.609) and an 11th place in the 200 freestyle (2:02.72) to qualify for the district competition.

"Marcy was incredible," Nauman said.

Sam and Allie weren't the only Nockengost siblings to reach the district meet.

Erica Nockengost joined Sam as qualifiers in the 100 breaststroke.

Sam placed ninth (1:11.84) and Erica finished 20th (1:16.08).

Falls' other district qualifier was Madison Marshall in the 100 backstroke (22nd, 1:06.1).

"We're slowly building some momentum," Nauman said. "We are trying to develop an expectation of excellence."

The state swimming meet is scheduled to take place Feb. 22 and 23. The preliminaries are set to take place Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. with the finals scheduled for Feb. 23 at 4 p.m.


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