by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
It's certainly a blessing to coach someone with talent.
Hudson senior diver Abby Villenauve certainly has it.
But to say Lady Explorers diving coach Dan Miller enjoys coaching his star pupil simply because of her plethora of skills doesn't understand the big picture.
"She's awesome," Miller said. "Anybody who has a daughter wants her to grow up to be like Abby.
"She has got a good soul and is a great person. She does her best to always be in a positive mindset."
Villenauve has no reason to feel otherwise.
That's because she finished her high school diving career as an All-Ohioan.
Villenauve finished 10th at the Division I state meet Feb. 26 at Canton McKinley High School's C.T. Branin Natatorium.
Villenauve scored a personal-best 446.95 points.
Walsh Jesuit senior Kailey Francetic, a Hudson resident, finished sixth with 475.3 points. She concluded her career as a rare four-time state qualifier. She finished 14th as a freshman, eighth as a sophomore and fifth as a junior.
Francetic, who will continue diving for the Akron Rippers, plans to continue her academic and diving careers at the University of Kentucky. She scored 513.9 points at the district competition the previous week.
"It hurt a little bit, but I appreciate what I've done for the last four years," she said. "I enjoyed the experience with my friends from all over Ohio. It was all I could really ask for."
Centerville's Katie Polk won the competition with 524.95 points and New Albany's duo of Estee Pryor (521.35) and Nikki Watters (512.25) took second and third, respectively.
Rounding out the top five were Strongsville's Julia Oppedisano (502.25) and Cincinnati Oak Hills' Elizabeth Cron (493.35).
At a 2014 district meet, Villenauve finished 12th with a very respectable 315.8 points.
Let's just say she has taken her talents to a whole new level this season.
"I have really cranked up all my dives," Villenauve said. "I've done harder dives and I have cleaner entries. I also have so much more height and the right timing on all of my dives."
Thanks to her performance, Villenauve, who first discovered the sport less than two years ago, earned All-Ohio honors for making the top 16. She finished just two spots away from reaching the podium.
"Overall, I had a really smooth meet," Villenauve said. "I could have found maybe 20 points here and there and got eighth, but I was really happy with the way I dove."
Once the competition got rolling, Villenauve had all of her emotions in check. But she did admit she had some issues prior to the meet.
"As usual, I was freaking out," Villenauve said. "I didn't do very well in warm-ups. I was the first person to dive, which I love. I got a chance to set the tone. I was able to relax and enjoy it."
Miller, who also coaches Villenauve at the American Flyers Diving Club in Solon, wished Villenauve joined the team earlier.
"That was her only mistake," Miller said jokingly. "I'm really excited for her. The big goal was to make the top 16 and she was seeded 14th. To finish 10th in the state and to improve as much as she did is a huge accomplishment."
Don't expect Villenauve to put her swimsuit away any time soon.
She will continue diving for American Flyers and has hopes of diving in college.
"No rest for me," Villenauve said. "I go back to practice Monday and I'll be back to going five days a week. It will be a lot of fun. I'm really happy with the way things turned out."