By Amy Shen and Marie Saba
Shocking Jamesville-DeWitt High School, senior Jessica Rieger broke the 28-year long school diving record of 394 at sectionals, leading her to states.
Within the usual 11 dives, she achieved a score that added up to 431.5, slaughtering the state’s qualification of 409, which made Rieger feel “amazing.” After diving for six years, including one year of club diving, she felt she finally did something “spectacular.”
Rieger knew there was “no way you can win [states] if you never went [before],” but she was still optimistic. Rieger went into states excited but nervous. Her ranking going into states was 42nd out of the 58 total divers and was based on her performance in sectionals. At states, there are a total of three rounds. The first round consisted of five dives. A total of 24 divers were cut after the first round, including Rieger. Out of the 58 divers, she placed 48th overall. However, in Section III, out of four divers, she placed first.
“I was really proud of Jess,” said fellow swimmer, junior Heather Nyman, “she is the sweetest girl, so smart and talented.” “She deserved it more than anyone,” said sophomore diver Megan Alkins. Freshman swimmer Kate Foraker was “very excited for her,” because it was “good for her to go far in her last year at JD.”
Although Rieger’s diving career came to an end at J-DHS, she left a legacy with her pool record. Leaving the high school, she will always be remembered as the “team’s mom”. “She’s supported us through the whole year,” said junior diver Hannah Gunther.
Going to states was an amazing accomplishment, however diving has also taught Rieger important skills for her life. “It taught me to focus in school and helps me be very goal-oriented,” and “pushes myself to do things I don’t really want to do,” said Rieger. “Jessica is a rare talent,” Varsity Girls Swimming Head Coach Bob Bewley said. Coach Bewley believes Rieger’s achievements show her “effort and fortitude.”
Guidance Counselor Denise Becher describes Rieger as a “self-motivated, organized and responsible” person, the “kind of kid that I don't have to worry about.” Head of the English Department, and also Rieger’s English teacher, Joe DeChick believes Rieger is a well-rounded student, by being involved in arts with stage crew, sports with diving, and being an “extremely dedicated, caring and fantastic student.”
Rieger hopes to dive at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, because it’s a DI school which makes it a better program than others. Another reason Rieger would like to go to Marist College is the 25 years worth of experience that their diving coach has. “It’d be fun to be part of that team,” Rieger said, despite the fact that the boards she will dive from will include the higher 3 meter board, three times higher than she’s dealt with in the past. For Rieger, new challenges or obstacles, like a higher diving board, aren’t an issue, they “renew her spirit to excel,” said Coach Bewley.
Although Rieger’s last season at J-DHS has ended, it has taught her, according to Coach Bewley, “to keep a sense of wonder and excitement in everything you do.”