LINCOLN — E got straight A's Thursday in her record-setting performance at the girls state high school 1-meter diving championships.
Elizabeth Howorth — nicknamed E by her first gymnastics coach — had her most complete, technically sound set of 11 dives at the Devaney Center in her final high school meet.
The Elkhorn/Elkhorn South senior finished with a meet record total of 497.50 points, eclipsing the 475.85 posted by Papillion-La Vista's Jodi Janssen in 1994.
Howorth nearly reaching the 500-point mark and blowing past the previous best by more than 22 points was special enough on its own. But what added to the achievement was Howorth's mother and sister were major parts of making the day so unique.
Deb Howorth is the Stormin' Antlers diving coach and Anna Howorth, Elizabeth's sophomore sister, happened to finish as the runner-up with 432.25 points. That total was just 9.85 points from making The World-Herald's all-time Top 10 list.
“It just helps to have both of them there,” Elizabeth said. “It helps to have my sister there to push me, because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here. I owe it to my sister and mom.”
Another Stormin’ Antlers sophomore, Payton Conrad, finished third and was the only other diver to finish with more than 400 points at 409.85. The 1-2-3 sweep gives Elkhorn 53 points heading into the swimming portion of the championships that begins Friday at 9 a.m.
From her first dive, Elizabeth showed she wasn’t going to settle for anything but first place after finishing second in 2012. After her first five dives, Howorth had 229.05 points, a pace that put her in position to take aim at Janssen’s record.
That possibility became even easier to see after eight dives because Howorth had to average just 37 points per dive to exceed the 475-point barrier. The ninth dive produced 39 points before the 10th dive, a back one-and-a-half, was so well executed that her score was 50.60.
With one dive to go, Howorth had 453.75 points, a total that would have ranked No. 6 on the all-time chart.
Deb Howorth said she could tell after Elizabeth’s opening dive that her oldest daughter was going to have a very good day.
“She hit every single dive,” Deb said. “Everything was calm for Elizabeth after that.”
Calmness swept over Deb, too, even before the meet.
“This was the most calm I’ve ever been at a state meet,” Deb said. “Everybody did exactly what I thought they could and should be doing.”
Bettering the record was something Elizabeth said she started to think about as soon as the 2012 state meet was over.
“After I lost last year’s state meet, I just knew I needed to perfect my dives and make them clean on my entries,” Howorth said. “I didn’t have a bad dive today, but there were some where I could have done better.”
Anna Howorth knew her sister had the goal of a state record on her mind and had no doubts she could get it done.
“I knew she wanted it because she wanted to be first last year,” Anna said. “I think today went really well and I’m so happy for her.”
Now that Elizabeth’s high school career is over and she’s headed to Denver University in the fall, Anna has a new number to aim for the next two years. Anna smiled when asked about replacing her sister at the top of the all-time chart in either 2014 or ’15.
Turns out big sister is in favor of the idea.
“Absolutely,” Elizabeth said. “I want it for her as much as I wanted it.”
Individual results: 1, Elizabeth Howorth, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 497.50 points. 2, Anna Howorth, E/ES, 432.25. 3, Payton Conrad, E/ES, 409.85. 4, Ashlie Izzo, Lincoln High, 382.05. 5, Lanie Snyder, Millard West, 381.25. 6, Alexie Ryan, Omaha Duchesne, 357.05. 7, Katie Haeffner, Lincoln Northeast, 344.65. 8, Macy Palmer, Lincoln East, 343.95. 9, Taylor Romans, Millard North, 342.25. 10, Gabrielle Ryan, Duchesne, 341.70. 11, Sierra Weber, Ralston/Omaha Gross, 337.85. 12, Emmy Splichal, Bellevue East, 320.50. 13, Sydney Bonta, Lincoln Pius X, 315.00. 14, Kate Durst, Omaha Westside, 310.25. 15, Madeline Taylor, Millard West, 289.65. 16, Megan Hastings, Lincoln Southwest, 282.85.
Contact the writer:
402-618-4113, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/stevebeideck