In high school athletics, a "perfect performance" might not technically exist.

But Nordonia High School junior diving star Stephen Romanik came just about as close as an athlete can come at the state meet.

Romanik competed for the Division I state one-meter diving title Feb. 23 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. At the end of the day, he had captured the school's first state championship in swimming and diving.

Romanik finished with 557.15 points in the 11-diving event, far ahead of Alex Obendorf of Hudson, who posted a score of 512.50.

According to Romanik, it was his best performance of the season.

"I felt like I had a great day out there," he said. "I was going up against some great competition, and I just took it one dive at a time. I felt really good about it."

Nordonia head coach Claudio Costanzo indicated that Romanik's effort represented the second-highest score ever recorded at the state meet and shatter Romanik's previous school record.

"Overall, it was a dominant performance from start to finish," said Costanzo. "He hit every dive, and they were all solid. It was an outstanding performance."

Romanik's score in the preliminary round was 236.75, and his score in the semifinals was 377.15. He and Obendorf were the only two divers to post scores above 500.

As it turned out, Romanik was the final diver in the rotation. That gave him a slight advantage, not that he needed one.

"At the beginning of the meet, I was last in the order," he said. "It's better to be close to the end in diving. You can see what everybody else has done, and you can increase your degree of difficulty."

"On his last dive, he just needed to finish the dive to win," said Costanzo. "He only needed 18 points, and he stuck [the dive]. He scored a 70."

"Before the last three dives of the competition, I looked at the scores in front of me," said Romanik. "I figured that if I didn't mess anything up, I'd probably get it."

Romanik messed up nothing, turning in a near-flawless performance in what was his third trip to the state meet. Last year, he finished in second place.

According to Romanik, his previous experience at States was instrumental in capturing the gold medal this year.

"It was really important to see the level of competition at the state meet last year and the year before," he said. "I knew what I needed to do, which was dive my best. I think I was able to accomplish that."

With this being his third trip to States, nervousness wasn't a factor, either.

"I felt pretty calm," said Romanik. "I was visualizing each dive in my head beforehand, thinking about what I had to do."

"He's looked very good the past few weeks, so we knew he'd have a good performance," said Costanzo. "We didn't know he'd be that good, though. It was outstanding. He was fun to watch all day."


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