By Rob Kiser
When longtime Piqua diving coach Laura Jackson first saw Piqua senior Ike Karn dive as a young boy, she envisioned what took place Friday morning in the Piqua High School commons.
But for Jackson, who was on hand as the son of Travis and Shani Karn signed his letter of intent to dive for the University of Cincinnati, that is not the only thing that makes Karn so special to her.
“This is a great day for Piqua High School and the diving program,” Jackson said. “Ike (Karn) is a great diver. But, he is also a great kid. It is great to be part of this.”
Karn said the college choice was made easier by his club coach — who is also Centerville’s coach — Patti Hickey.
“When her divers are looking at college choices, she has a whole list of things to look at,” Karn said. “Location, scholarship, how competitive the team is, coaches, academics. She has you make a list of the pros and cons for each college.”
And Karn knew UC was the perfect fit for him.
“I really liked the coach,” Karn said. “She (Kirtley Krombholz) is a University of Cincinnati alumni and I am really looking forward to diving for her. And I am going to go into (major) in business and they have a great business school.”
Karn has dived for almost as long as he can remember.
“I was probably about six (when he started diving),” Karn said. “But, I would do it at the pool for fun. I didn’t dive competitively until my freshman year.”
Jackson already knew what she had in a diver.
“I saw his potential at a young age,” she said. “I saw it when he was diving at Tecumseh Woods.”
And Karn didn’t disappoint.
As a freshman, he was GWOC North champion and finished 20th at the state meet.
At that point Jackson knew it was time for Karn to take his skills to another level.
“I knew he needed to find a coach and compete at the club level,” Jackson said. “I wanted to find him someone who take him beyond what I could do for him and I felt like Patti (Hickey) was the best coach for him.”
Karn met her at the GWOC meet his freshman year because Hickey is also Centerville’s coach.
“She asked me if I had a club team and was competing in the summer,” Karn said. “I told her I didn’t and she explained to get your name out there and have an opportunity for a scholarship you need to compete at the club level and go to big competitions.”
The rest — as they say — is history.
Karn has thrived and made steady progress every season.
As a sophomore, he made the finals at state for the first time and finished 14th with a score of 397,55.
As a junior, he upset Centerville’s Noah Hickey to win the overall GWOC title and finished second at district and fifth at state with scores of 498.05 and 498.30 respectively.
He continued that momentum in the summer.
“Your junior year is a big year (for getting college looks),” Karn said. “I was able to compete at USA zones, USA nationals and AAU nationals. The USA nationals was a huge meet down in Orlando. There were all kind of divers going to worlds there. It was amazing.”
And as heads into his senior season, Karn obviously has some pretty big expectations.
But, he also has one number in mind.
“I was so close to 500 last year,” Karn said about his total score at district and state a year ago. “I would really like to get that at the state meet.”
As for Jackson, she is going to enjoy the ride.
“This is going to be my final year as coach,” she said. “It is going to be great to coach Ike (Karn) and watch everything he does during my final season.”
Then, he will head to UC — to be all he can be.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.