Topeka When Free State High diver Annie Soderberg steps onto the board, the silence of the crowd engulfs her. Everything slows down, and her mind goes blank to tune out any excess noise.
Then, Soderberg, a gymnast in her first year diving for FSHS, springs from the board, twisting and flipping in the air until she gracefully splashes into the water.
“You feel free and open,” Soderberg said. “I feel like it’s really slow. In gymnastics, it’s really fast, and (here) you get a lot more spring, so you’re in the air for a while.”
Soderberg — the lone city diver competing at the state championships at Hummer Sports Complex — made it through to the finals after her performance in the diving preliminaries and semifinal rounds on Thursday afternoon.
Finals, where each diver has three more dives, start at 2 p.m. today at Hummer.
After five dives in the prelims, Soderberg’s score of 152.90 was good enough for 12th place and a slot in the semifinals, where she had three more dives to earn one of 16 spots in the finals.
Her three dives in the semis boosted her score — which is cumulative throughout all 11 dives — to 233.20, good for 10th place at the moment.
“Her middle three dives were really consistent,” FSHS dive coach Emily Wicktor said. “She’s certainly had better days, but she put herself in a good spot with that consistency.”
Blue Valley Northwest’s A.J. Lewis, last year’s state champion, is currently in first at 319.40.