Austin’s Norton is plunging forward in the pool
Published 7:25 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Riley Norton may just be a freshman at Austin High School, but when he gets on the diving board he can appear much older.
Norton has put up some big scores this season and he’s hoping he can make the charge for his first state meet appearance this winter. While the sport can be a little intimidating for even the best of divers, Norton usually keeps his cool by listening to some heavy metal or classic rock music before he competes.
“I’m kind of a daredevil anyways,” Norton said. “The really difficult dives can scare you sometimes, but you’ve just got to try them and clear your mind.”
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Last season Norton took ninth at the Section 1A meet and this year he’s aiming to get in the top-four at sections, which would put him in the state meet. So far his best score of this season has been a 209 and he’s aiming to get up to a 215 before the end of the year.
“I’ve gotten pretty close to state [in the past],” Norton said. “This year I’m really hoping I can get there and I’m also hoping to break my personal best score.”
Norton picked up the idea of diving when he was in elementary school when he saw former Packer diver and state qualifier Alec Anderson on the news. Norton spoke to Anderson about diving back then and it helped him make the decision to try it out.
Now Norton is getting to know and learn from some of the better divers in the Big Nine. Jake Cuddy, a senior from Northfield who took second in the Class A state meet in 2016, is one of Norton’s bigger inspirations.
“He’s pretty good. He’s tough,” Norton said of Cuddy. “Everybody talks to each other in diving and we’re kind of like a big family in a way.”
Norton picked up his confidence on the diving board pretty quick when he began competing on the varsity team as a seventh grader. But there was one big lesson he learned early on.
“You have to pay attention to the dive they announce during the meet. If you don’t do it, it’s a DQ,” Norton said. “But overall, you’ve just got to believe in yourself and do your best.”
The Packers will host Rochester John Marshall 6 p.m. Thursday and they will host an invite 10 a.m. Saturday.