All the time spent in studios perfecting his break dancing moves has paid off for Noah Batenhorst in another venue.
The Millard West senior is the top returning boys diver from the 2012 state swimming and diving championship meet. Batenhorst finished fourth and is positioned as one of the favorites to win gold at this season's state meet in February.
Not bad for a guy who didn't take up the event until he was a sophomore.
Batenhorst wasn't even looking for a spot on the squad. He was just taking an Introduction to Aquatics course taught by Wildcats coach Tracy Stauffer.
Stauffer quickly noticed Batenhorst's skillset when the class started the diving unit.
“We start from scratch with some basics then eventually everyone goes off the diving board,” Stauffer said. “Most divers are a little on the edge and have some interesting personality traits, not risky behavior, but they're not afraid to try new things.”
Those dance skills the 17-year-old Batenhorst had been working on since the sixth grade translated well on the 1-meter board.
“With break dancing I already knew how to do flips, I just had to put it on the diving board,” Batenhorst said. “Once I got the transition down it came a lot faster.”
Stauffer recommended that Batenhorst talk things over with his parents Pat and Lisa to see if he would be interested in joining the diving team.
Batenhorst said a couple of his friends had gone out for diving the year before but decided it wasn't for them. Their lukewarm reviews made Batenhorst hesitate about taking his own shot at the event.
“I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it,” Batenhorst said. “But by the end of my first season I liked it.”
A ninth-place finish at the 2011 state diving championships with only four months of experience provided Batenhorst with enough incentive to take on the 1-meter event full time.
He now drives to Lincoln several times a week to practice with the Nebraska Dive Club at the Devaney Center, and Batenhorst has added regional and zone meet competitions to his résumé.
Having already competed in one state meet helped Batenhorst be more at ease as a junior.
“I didn't know what to expect going into it that first year and it was a little overwhelming,” Batenhorst said. “A lot more experience and practice helped last year, and I've been working on raising my degree of difficult this year.”
Working on his dives year-round helped him make the leap from ninth to fourth last season. Whether or not he lands on the gold medal stand at the 2013 state meet doesn't cause Batenhorst any anxiety.
He already has accepted a scholarship offer to compete at South Dakota State next season — a choice he made primarily because of the school's engineering program — after considering a handful of other schools.
“I'm just going to see what happens,” Batenhorst said of the upcoming season. “I'm definitely going to do everything I can to win, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm just going to go into it and have fun with it.”
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