By Rob Kiser
OXFORD — It is not easy for Piqua senior diver Isaac Karn to keep topping himself.
But, he keeps finding a way to do it.
And after setting the bar high with a school record 523.15 at sectionals a week ago, Karn returned to the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center at Miami University Monday night for the Division II district competition.
Becoming the first Piqua diver to win a district title was never in doubt — he finished more than 40 points in front of second-place finished Noah Vigran of Cincinnati Indian Hills to earn a fourth straight trip to the state meet.
Beating his sectional score was — but Karn pulled it off with a score of 57.5 on his final dive — a back 1.5 somersault with a 1.5 twist giving him a total 523.85 and beating his record by .7. Vigran was second with a score of 481.65.
“I wasn’t sure if I had (beaten the record after his last dive),” Karn said. “I knew it was close.”
What Karn did on his final three dives was nothing short of amazing.
His ninth dive — a reverse 1.5 pike — was good for a score of 52.85, but he was just getting started.
He followed with a score of 56.4 on a reverse 1.5 somersault with 1.5 twists.
That left him needing 56.8 to tie his school record on his final dive.
Karn nailed it for a score of 57.5 to increase his school record and finish with a flourish.
“Going to my final three dives, I needed to score in the 50s on all three just to get to 500 points, so I knew it was going to be tough,” Karn said.
Karn set the tone from the start.
The third-place finisher would finish more than 100 points behind Karn.
After his second dive — a forward 1.5 somersault with two twists — earned him a score of 54.6, he had a 15-point lead on Vigran and never looked back.
“I knew that he (Noah Vigran) has a lot of his strongest dives at the end,” Karn said. “I was hoping to get in the lead and I wanted to get as big a lead as possible because of that.”
And despite his big lead, Karn had no trouble staying focused.
“I just focus on one dive at a time,” he said. “Whatever my next dive is, doing that as best as I can. If I do that, then it will show in the final score.”
Karn feels like he gains and advantage in the 11-dive competition.
“A lot of guys might have three or four really good dives,” Karn said. “But it is tough to do that for 11 dives.”
Karn was relaxed from the start Monday night.
“I was,” he said. “What I have learned is I seemed to dive my best when I am relaxed.”
And Karn will definitely be one of the favorites at the state meet — after finishing fifth in Division I a year ago.
“I am not one to look at the scores of the other divers,” Karn said. “I really don’t do that much. I don’t know the divers as well this year, because I am Division II. I am sure I will know who the top divers are when we get to state.”
And it will be one last chance to add to his school record when he makes the familiar trip to the Canton Natatorium next week. The Division II state diving finals kick things off at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24.
“This (winning the district title) feels good,” Karn said. “It definitely gives me confidence going to state. I know a lot of these judges will be up at Canton at the state meet.”
And it will give Karn one final chance to top himself in a Piqua uniform.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.