Patrick Carter's quest for a Suffolk diving title began a year ago, when the then-seventh-grader competed in the county meet for the first time and placed third. Knowing how close he was to winning, Carter trained hard during the offseason with hopes of reaching his goal.
"I dove, dove, and dove some more," said Carter, of West Islip. "I practiced every day and I always dreamed of winning the county championship."
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Carter's dream was fulfilled Friday, as he won the county crown with an 11-dive score of 451.25 at Hauppauge. Carter won by more than 40 points and improved on last year's score by more than 70 points.
"I knew I had gotten a lot better from last year, so I really wanted to beat my old score," he said. "I just took it dive by dive and tried to do my best each time. I thought all the dives went very well."
The win caps a season in which Carter was undefeated in dual meet competition and earned his first trip to the state championship in Buffalo.
"He worked so hard this year and he's improved so much since he first started," said West Islip diving coach KristiLee Hender, who has coached Carter since he was in the fourth grade. "The goals for this year were to win counties and make states, and he did both. I'm very happy for him."
Half Hollow Hills sophomores Alex Cohen (410.90) and John Natalone (405.70) finished second and third. Divers must score at least 420.35 to qualify for the state meet.
Carter qualified for the state meet in December when he won the Suffolk Invitational (scoring 437). Knowing he will be facing some tough competition, he remained humble in his expectations. "My main goal is to just make it to the finals," he said. "If I can get to the finals, then I'll try my best to win."
Hender echoed Carter's sentiments: "It's just his first year [going to the state meet], so it's going to be a learning experience," she said. "We want to get him in there and get him the experience of competing at the state level, and hopefully he'll make it to the finals."