PIQUA — Everybody likes “Ike.”
And what is not to like?
The Piqua High School senior has proven himself to be a champion on and off the diving board.
Becoming just Piqua’s third individual state champion just cemented Karn’s legacy.
Karn’s official return from the Division II state diving championships came Friday afternoon at Piqua High School, during the Celebration of Winter Sports held in Garbry Gymnasium.
The boys basketball team, bowling district qualifiers LeAnn Beaty and Travis Smith and wrestling district qualifiers Sam Herndon, Nick Baker, Andrew Bolin and Jake Hetzler were also recognized.
Karn won the D-II state diving title on Wednesday at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
And like Piqua’s previous state champions Steve Butsch (1981, pole vault) and Brandon Saine (multiple state titles in track in 2005 and 2006), Karn set a record.
His score of 527.55 set a new Division II pool record.
But for as good as Karn is on the diving board, it is what he does off the board that sets him apart.
“There were numerous coaches and officials who commented about what a special person Ike (Karn) is,” Piqua Athletic Director Chip Hare said about the son of Travis and Shani Karn. “It is a reflection on Ike’s parents and the way he is raised. I get emotional just talking about Ike.”
The response when he won the state title was quick.
“When I got off the podium, I had 110 text messages,” Karn said with a smile. “The community has always been so supportive of me. I knew there would be a reaction like this. To be honest, I didn’t even realize that I was only the third state champion from Piqua. It has all kind of started to set in for me. It is kind of amazing.”
Karn returned to school Friday morning.
“It was great, just to see the teachers and students and they have been congratulating me all day,” he said.
Hare has always admired the way Karn conducts himself.
“The thing that has stood out to me through this whole process is his humility,” Hare said about Karn, who declined the opportunity to give a speech. “He has shown such humility and he has shown such great sportsmanship. Every time he has received a medal, he congratulates all the other divers who got medals before he gets his.”
And there is an important message for the young, aspiring athletes of Piqua.
“If you work hard and do the right things, this is what can happen,” Hare said. “You can accomplish great things.”
But most importantly, it how Karn has conducted himself not just in winning a state title, but in life.
He will continue that when he goes to the University of Cincinnati next year on a diving scholarship.
“I realize that diving isn’t a gladiator sport,” Hare said. “But, everyone in the Ohio diving community has tremendous respect for him and really likes Ike.”
After all, what is not to like?
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.