For Chloe Hacker, the sky seems to be the only limit on her ability to win state diving championships.
Hacker, a sophomore atCorona, took care of business as usual and won her second consecutive one-meter Arizona State High School Division I Diving Championship Nov. 4.
“Chloe handled the pressure like there was none at all, and defended her title by finishing first as the top female diver in the state,” said head coach Ron Musgrave. “When I checked on Chloe’s progress during the competition, her mother told me she’s business as usual.”
Hacker not only beat out her competition but actually scored 15 points higher this year, 378.70, than her championship score last season. Her goal is to improve her score every year.
“Winning for the second year in a row felt pretty great,” said Hacker. “My score was higher than last year and I’m setting my sights on improving my scores in the championship every year.”
Scoring 15 points higher in the meet this season was not easy for the young diver because it was rainy and unusually chilly. All the dives took place in one day as compared to the two days last season and the competition was a bit stiffer. Hacker also had a target on her back and was the one to beat based on her performance during the regular season.
“It was very cold this year, and it was hard to keep warm and not tighten up,” said Hacker. “I don’t think that the competitions were easier just because I won last year. You have bad days and you always have to be at your best because you never know when one of those bad days is going to pop up.”
Hacker won every dual meet and took first at two out of the three invitational meetsCoronaparticipated in this season. She also won the Tempe City Meet and not only broke Corona’s womens record but she broke the mens record as well.
Hacker, who took up diving when she was nine after watching her older brother, Max, competes all year long with her club diving team when not competing in high school. Currently she is continuing to work on her strength training and preparing for club regionals, which will hopefully lead her once again to nationals.
“I am moving up to the next age group, so the competition will be fierce this season in club but my goal is to compete at nationals,” said Hacker. “I would also like to add a few new dives to my repertoire, specifically in the one meter and platform categories.”
She obviously loves diving, especially because of the variety of competitions, but admits it is not always fun and games.
“I like that diving is different every time you do a dive, even if it’s the same dive. There is also so much variety between springboard and platform diving,” said Hacker. “What I like the least is smacking when you hit the water wrong, especially off the platform, but that is a part of learning and something that is inevitable.”
Hacker was the only Corona athlete competing in the finals of this year’s state Division I swim and dive meet, according to Musgrave.
“I was pleased how Coronaswimmers represented themselves by participating in the prelims at the state meet but disappointed we did not get to swim in the finals,” said Musgrave. “Our most talented butterflier, Nicole Holly, was disqualified for a false start in her preliminary race and our two boys relay teams, the 200 medley and 200 free, ended up as alternates and did not get to swim at state.”
The Aztecs may have one of head coach Sam Duane Jr.’s most experienced teams with nine returning players, three of them starters, from last season’s 22-6 team that made it all the way to the quarterfinals before losing to the No. 1 seed, North.
North eventually won the championship.
“We are very excited for this season,” said Duane. “Our greatest strengths are that we have a lot of experience in the players who are coming back and we are the deepest team I have had atCorona.”
The Aztecs return four-year starting guard Calaen Robinson and three-year starting center Avery Moss along with starting point guard Casey Benson. All three players will be counted on to provide more leadership this year according to Duane.
Adding to the depth and experience, with the ability to buy in and contribute to the total team effort Duane desires this season from his returning players, are four seniors and two juniors. Juniors Braden Tennyson and Bryan Siefker gained a lot of court time last season that will help the Aztecs, as did seniors Elijah Hempstead, Jesse McCain, Tyler Bolton and Andrus Peat.
It had been bantered around the media that Peat would be concentrating on football and not playing basketball his senior year. Those rumors proved to be false once basketball tryouts started. Besides wanting to help the Aztecs win a state championship, Andrus may be looking forward to playing with his younger brother, Cassius, who also made the team.
The Aztecs are hoping newcomers Matt Lemki, Adam Gleave, Austin Millyard, Alex van Ryswick and Cassius Peat quickly learn what is expected of them so they can start to contribute to the team’s overall success.
“To be successful, all of our guys will have to buy into whatever role that develops for them,” said Duane. “We have so many scoring threats on the team, but the guys need to understand that it does not matter who scores as long as our team has the winning score at the end of the game.”
“The team goal has to be more important than the individual goal if we are to have the season we are all hoping for,” said Duane. “I believe our guys, so far, are buying into the concept that the team goal is the most important.
Making it to the state tournament this year may be more difficult with the new AIA rules that divided Division I into three sections of 20 schools in each. Coronais in Section II with Basha, one of the teams Duane is predicting to be a contender for the state championship.
Duane is also predicting Pinnacle, Mesa Mountain View and Brophy, along with Corona, as being among the top five teams in the state. Some of the teams in Section II with Corona are Chandler, Desert Ridge, Desert View, Gilbert, Hamilton and Highland. A complete list can be found on the AIA website at www.aiaonline.org .
Only the top three teams in each section are guaranteed to play in the state tournament. The rest of the seeding is determined by the same power ranking system used in the past.
The Aztecs start the season with the annual Thanksgiving tournament, Fear the Hop Invitational, put on byMesaHigh School. Games will be played Nov. 21, 22, 23 and 26. The schedule can be found on the CdS Boys Basketball website under “Announcements” at http://cdsboysbasketball.com/
The Aztecs first home game will be Nov. 29 against Central, starting at 7 p.m.
Corona Girls Basketball
With six returning players, three of them starters, Corona’s girls basketball team is poised to improve on last season’s 10-17 record.
“Every one of the returning players has improved tremendously during the off season,” said head coach Andrew Strom. “They have been very dedicated to the game. I am looking forward to seeing their progress during the season.”
Strom will be looking for his guards to set the tone again this season. Especially important will be Alexa Hogberg, the team’s leading scorer last season with a total of 424 points, which included 49 three-pointers. She averaged over 16 points, 6 assists, almost 3 rebounds and 3 steals a game.
Add to the mix Sammi Moore, who was the third leading scorer and had the highest percentage of free throws made at 80 percent among the returning players.
Strom also has returning guards sophomore Kaelin Shaffer, who averaged over three points a game as a freshman and senior Liann Kline, who had 57 rebounds last season.
That doesn’t mean Corona’s post players won’t need to be in the mix if they are going to have a successful season.
“Our strength is in our guards,” said Strom. “I know our guards will give other teams trouble but our posts have improved a lot. Because we are a little undersized, everyone will really have to work hard on the defensive end for us to be good.”
Expected to contribute down low will be returning forwards Lauren Lucky and Erin Miller. Lucky, as a sophomore last season, averaged 6.3 points, 7 rebounds and close to one steal per game.
Senior Miller, at 5-foot 10-inches, will be trying to help fill the void created on the team when Sarah Rueckle graduated last spring. Coach Strom will be counting on Miller and Kline, who have been in the program now four years, to provide insight to the younger players on the team.
One of those younger players is freshman Taylor Kalmer, a player that Strom is expecting to be outstanding once she adjusts to high school basketball. Other players new to varsity are Hana Rahman, Justice Mosley, Jordynn Logston, Haley Langille and Vicky Sanford.
If being undersized is a potential weakness, Strom is counting on these new players to add depth to his team.
“I expect the six new varsity players to give us depth,” said Strom. “We should be able to play more girls this year and find more combinations of five girls to play on the court during games.”
Strom is seeing improvement in his team, who is working very hard during practice, every day.
“We have a very tough schedule this season and it will be a challenge to get into the playoffs with the new AIA system, but we can surprise some people,” said Strom. “If we just take it game by game, I feel we can handle it.”
The Lady Aztecs will be playing in the Scorpion Shootout over the Thanksgiving break, Nov. 23 and 25. They then start the regular season Nov. 29 at Central followed up by playing at Desert Vista, Dec. 6.