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Boys diving: Josh Arndt’s state repeat came with nervous moments

LaPorte diver Josh Arndt dives during meet earlier this week Lake Central High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

LaPorte diver Josh Arndt dives during a meet earlier this week at Lake Central High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 27, 2013 6:28AM



Mel Kovenz’s hands were shaking while he watched Saturday’s state diving finals wind down.

And he wasn’t even competing.

It was even worse for LaPorte senior Josh Arndt, who was trying to become the first diver to win consecutive state titles in 20 years. With scores down across the board thanks to some exceptionally strict judging, there were plenty of nervous moments for Kovenz — LaPorte’s diving coach — and his star pupil.

After Arndt’s last dive, he climbed out of the pool at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis and stood behind the hot tub, less than 10 feet away from the diving platform. There he watched Hamilton Southeastern’s Cody Coldren, who was in second place, take his final dive.

“He nailed it,” said Arndt, who for a split-second feared that Coldren would overtake him and win state. But then the scores went up and it was official: Arndt had beaten Coldren 484.00-464.25 to go back-to-back.

“Immediately, tears filled my eyes,” Arndt said. “It sank in right away.”

And it lifted a weight off Arndt’s shoulders.

“The pressure was coming down hard on me,” he said. “And I was feeling it.”

Fifteen of the 16 state finalists had lower scores on Saturday than they put up in the regional round four days earlier. Kovenz and Arndt thought that was not a coincidence.

“At state, the judging was quite biased,” said Kovenz, whose complaint was not that the officials favored any one diver but that all competitors’ scores were too low.

“The judging was like — I don’t even know, I’d say Olympic level,” Arndt said. “They were judging really hard, really technical.”

So the scores weren’t what Arndt was expecting. But the result was, and that was all that mattered.

“State record doesn’t mean anything to me anymore,” the Indiana University recruit said. “I repeated. A win’s a win and I’m going to take it.”

What made the championship even sweeter was the Orange Wave cheering section of almost 40 family and friends there to share the moment.

Though Arndt understood the magnitude of what had happened almost immediately, it took a bit longer for his coach.

“It took me 10 minutes for it to sink in,” Kovenz said. “It’s over, you get away, you come home (and wonder), ‘Did that really happen?’”

Arndt, meanwhile, had moved on by Monday, when he was helping Kovenz coach some middle-school divers.

“I love coming in and working with other kids who want to try diving,” said Arndt, who didn’t pick up the sport himself until freshman year. “I want to pass that on.

“It’s definitely important to me because I want LaPorte to carry on. I want the DAC to be the toughest conference in the state.”



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