Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek's Lexi Sachse was named the Daily Post's girls Diver of the Year. Sachse placed 14th in the state championships and first among girls from Gwinnett County this season.
Looking at the past, Lexi Sachse sauntered into her final dive season carrying something more than confidence.
She crossed the line of believing in herself to believing herself better than the rest.
"I felt like I had the upper hand because I had been diving for four years and then I went and dove offseason at the Georgia Diving Club," the Mill Creek senior said. "After junior year I was expecting to be top-notch above everyone. But I go to Clody (Invitational) and I got third place I was disappointed with myself. I was so cocky and I led myself to believe that I was just above everybody and completely on top."
A month later, she finished second in the Gwinnett Diving Invitational and followed that with a county championship at the Gwinnett County Championships and the Daily Post's girls diver of the year honor.
"It brought me back down to Earth and that's what helped me the most in my season. It told me that I actually had to work for what I wanted," Sachse said. "When I got to county, I knew it was going to be close. I knew it was going to be extremely close and I would be happy with any of the three of us (her, Peachtree Ridge's Anna Cate Miller or Duluth's Erin Hembree) winning. I was extremely happy that I won."
Her coach Megan White, after watching Sachse compete for four years, saw the win as a validation of more than just Sachse's talent.
"She put a lot of pressure on herself," White said. "She turned it around. It was a three-way race and any one of those three girls could have won at that meet. Her mental toughness that day was on top of things and that set her apart from the other two."
And to think, four years ago, Sachse didn't want to be a diver. She had tumbled and done gymnastics since she was 4 and it wasn't until she entered high school that her dad suggested diving.
"I didn't want to do diving, actually," said Sachse, who also has played soccer, basketball, coed flag football and competed in trampoline. "My dad was like, 'Do it. You'll like it. You'll have fun with it.' So I did it and it just kind of stuck."
When she first arrived at dive practice, White saw Sachse's potential even as a raw diver.
"I immediately knew she had potential as far as her athletic ability and her skill," White said. "Where she struggled early on in her diving career was dealing with pressure and anxiety."
Back issues won't allow Sachse to dive in college. She heard a pop diving before her junior year and when pain lingered weeks later, she went to the doctor and there was a fear of a fracture. She kept diving, but from lower heights, and even now if she dives too much, turns quickly or stands on her feet too long, the pain returns.
She hopes to attend Gwinnett Technical College to study to be an ultrasound technician. She works as a lifeguard the Collins Hill aquatic center.
She stays busy, even now that the season is over. And she's OK leaving diving as well.
"I'd rather like to walk the rest of my life," Sachse said.
"She ended it the way she wanted to," White said. "She set two goals for herself for her senior year and she met both of those."