Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Parkview's Ben Warren won the state diving title this season and was named the Daily Post's boys Diver of the Year.
The county meet didn't go particularly well for Parkview's Ben Warren.
The junior diver got off to a bad start.
"I kept telling myself, there are 11 dives for a reason, so I can come back," Warren said. "I knew I still had a chance, I just had to look at each dive as an individual meet, so to speak."
He recovered for a third-place finish. But third was not what Warren had planned winning nearly every meet of the season.
"My mind, right then was, I will get first at state," Warren said.
He did, blazing out of the gates with a much better start than at county.
"My first four or five dives were very good," said Warren, the Daily Post's Boys Diver of the Year. "I trailed off at the end though. Compared to my first dives, my last ones were pretty bad. I just got a little tense.
"I tried not to look at the scoreboard as much as I could -- it was really big and it was hard to not see I was in first at the end of every round. I tried to tell myself, 'Don't look at the board, points don't matter, just do the dives the best you can and the scores will come.'"
Warren would've had to fail the last couple of dives to fall out of the lead.
He didn't, becoming the first person other than Alpharetta's Jack Nyquist to win the state diving title in the largest classification since 2009. Nyquist was the three-time defending champ, but couldn't compete as a senior due to injury.
"It was very good competition, everybody was doing hard dives, but the scores were lower than in the past," said Warren, who also runs cross country and the long-distance races in track for Parkview. "I think Jack won with 600s the last few years and I won with 300s, so it's a pretty big difference."
It was still good enough for a state title and a big chunk of points to count toward Parkview's bid for the team championship.
"I thought we really just needed something to jump start the meet at state that night," Warren said. "I knew if I could win, that's going to do it and we're going to win the overall title two years in a row."
The high school season is over, but Warren continues to work with his AAU coach, Damon Ladd-Thomas, at GAC's pool several times a week.
"We're fine-tuning what I have and really working for the future," he said.
Two of the top five finishers from state were freshmen, including Norcross' Griffin Ramsey. Another was a sophomore.
"So I've got a lot of people gunning for me next year," Warren said.
It's been a quick rise to the top for Warren, who was sixth last season at state. He started diving the summer between seventh and eighth grade when he was encouraged by Sean Piner to give the sport a try. Piner also burst onto the diving scene a few years ago and was runner-up to Nyquist at state for the third time as a senior last year.
"I heard from Sean about diving and then one of the guys at our neighborhood pool -- we both go to the same one -- he said I should try it," Warren said. "I got up there and it just kind of stuck. I found it very natural and it was really fun."
Which came as a bit of a surprise to Warren.
"I don't really like heights all that much," he said with a little chuckle. "So when I started diving and now that I'm doing 3-meter, and platform is always an option, I was really shocked to find this came so naturally and was so fun."