Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson's Jeremy Rutledge performs a dive during the Gwinnett County Boys Diving Championships held at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center Wednesday. Rutledge finished in first place.
LILBURN -- For Jeremy Rutledge, the last dive wasn't about form. It was about his mindset.
The Grayson junior and No. 2 boys dive qualifier at the Gwinnett County Championships was 15 points behind the late-round leader Brendan Eckard from Duluth entering the last round and had just watched Eckard finish his 11th dive for a final score of 374.75.
With his favorite dive, a front 2 tuck, saved for last, Rutledge walked on the board full of confidence.
"I knew it wasn't about the dive, it was about my mindset going into it," Rutledge said. "Just the confidence level had to boost up and kick in. And it sure did."
Yes. It did.
Rutledge scored a 47.80 on the dive, edging Eckard by 0.75 of a point for his first county championship.
"(Winning creates) a different mindset," said Rutledge, who trains year-round at Georgia Tech. "I always push myself to be better."
Following the final-round drama, Rutledge quickly moved to congratulate Eckard. The two will see each other again at the state meet.
"I could have done a little better, could have pointed my toe more," Eckard said. "That's the way the cookie crumbles.
"I've still got state."
Following Eckard in third was Parkview's Ben Warren with a final scored of 363.10. The top qualifier entering Wednesday's meet scored low on some early dives and fought his way back into the top 3. Norcross' Griffin Ramsey finished fourth and Parkview's Chris Yenney took fifth.
The next three spots all went to Grayson divers -- Paul Anderson (sixth), Josh White (seventh) and Josh Covalschi (eighth). Shiloh's Adryan Blair finished ninth and Archer's Travis Button rounded out the top 10.
But with four divers in the top 10, it was a strong start for Grayson at the county championships.
"It's a great start. I am so excited," Grayson head swim and dive coach Rebekah Bullock said. "We have high expectations and I couldn't be more proud."
High standards for a young team. White and Covaslschi are both first-year divers and the champion Rutledge is in just his third year.
"(Rutledge) has improved so much since his first year," Bullock said. "I am so overwhelmed by how amazing they did. For all their hard work to pay off is just astounding."