Marvin Ridge rookie Maleski makes her mark
by Aaron Garcia
When it comes down to the final three competitors, the state diving championships are a lot like the Miss America Pageant – you don’t want to hear your name called until the last possible moment, after all the runner-up awards have been given.
So as she stood on the pool’s deck alongside the other two top finishers at the Class 3A diving championships on Feb. 8 waiting for the results to be announced, Marvin Ridge diver Sara Maleski was nervous.
“It was nerve-racking because I was scared they were going to call my name (before the other divers),” she said. “It was scary. But once everyone else’s names were called and I was the only one still standing there, it felt good because all my hard work paid off.”
Maleski, just a freshman, ran away with the state title after tallying 404.35 points, which blew away the second-place finisher, Beth Rusterholz of Charlotte Catholic. In fact, Maleski’s score would’ve won a title on the 4A level as well, where 377.50 points was good for gold. Only one competitor topped Maleski’s mark, when Lake Norman Charter’s Adyson Lowe notched a 411.45 in the 1A/2A competition.
The win earned Maleski the county’s lone state diving championship and the title of Union County Weekly’s 2011-12 Girls Swimmer/Diver of the Year.
Maleski, who has been diving for five years, makes the daily trek from Marvin Ridge High School all the way to Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics, where she trains for several hours before returning home to Waxhaw. Away from the Mavs team, Maleski has built quite a reputation as a diver, and she even won an Age Group National title last August for USA Diving. When she joined Marvin Ridge’s second-year diving team this year, she was automatically its most accomplished member and an obvious choice to lead the burgeoning program.
“I do it year-round, so it should be easier for me because I do it all the time,” Maleski said of how she viewed her role on the team when she joined the Mavs. “There was a little pressure.”
But Maleski seemed to thrive as the competition got tougher, and the 20 points she earned by winning her gold medal helped the Mavs (291.5 points) earn second place in the team standings.
“Coach (Laurie) Lester said if I wasn’t diving, we wouldn’t have come in second place because it was that close,” Maleski said. “It felt good to help the team.”