LINCOLN — Little improvements during the course of her program Thursday helped Jessica Warak work her way to the top of the final state diving standings.
Then the sophomore from Bellevue West needed a 42.65 or better on her final dive at the Devaney Center to pass Omaha Marian senior Abigail Knapton for the title.
Warak exceeded that, posting a 50.70 to finish with an 11-dive total of 483.75 — 8.10 points better than Knapton's 475.65.
Both scores ended up being two of the best in state history. Warak moved from No. 6 to No. 4 on The World-Herald's all-time list while Knapton debuted at No. 7.
Warak said she wasn't sure if her final dive was going to score high enough until she saw the numbers on the scoreboard.
"I didn't quite know," Warak said. "It went a little bit over, but I thought it could get me to where I wanted to be."
A pair of Knapton's teammates finished third and fourth to help the defending state champion Crusaders collect 48 points for the team title chase.
Defending state champion Taylor Carter finished third (447.55) while Kelly Straub was fourth (431.40).
The state meet was the second 11-dive competition of the season for Carter, who spent most of the year recovering from foot surgery. Carter's mother and Marian diving coach Becki Carter was pleased all three could contribute to the team race.
"Abi was great, Taylor was pretty good and Kelly had a little bit of an off day," Carter said. "On any given day, any of these top five or six girls could win it all. So it just comes down to who's on that day."
Thursday it was Warak. Beginning with her first five dives, Warak was consistently ahead of her scoring pace from 2015, when she finished third with a 472.05.
Warak was 10.95 points ahead of her 2015 score after five dives and 17.45 ahead after eight dives when the field was cut to the final 16 for the last three rounds.
Warak said the presence of the three Marian divers, who are her club diving teammates, also kept pushing her.
"I have to do my best because they're always spot-on every time," Warak said. "All of them are my friends."
Bellevue West coach Peter Charles said Warak's passion for the sport also plays a part in her success and quest to work consistently on improving her program.
"It was hard work and heart," Charles said. "Jessica is an allyear-round diver. It's her passion and something she loves to do.
"It's also being another year older and being more mature."
Both Charles and Warak said extra time was spent working on the one dive she missed at the Feb. 11 Metro Conference meet, the Reverse 1.5. A hitch in that dive cost her the Metro title that went to Knapton.
"My knees buckled on my takeoff," Warak said. "We definitely worked on it a lot more to make sure the approach was solid."
Not adding any new dives to her list and sticking with what got her here simplified Warak's day.
"I've been doing these for so long it makes it a little bit easier for me," Warak said.