Like every practice they’ve had since Aug. 15, senior Casey Nightingale and junior Rachel Thorstenson prepared on Wednesday. The divers worked on their craft, took advice from coach Scott Smith and didn’t call it quits until their techniques were just right.
Repetition and consistency. It’s what this Red Knights duo hopes will carry them through the weekend during the culmination of their 2011 season.
Nightingale and Thorstenson will compete at the Class A state diving meet beginning Thursday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Both Thursday’s preliminary round and Saturday’s championships begin at noon.
The key? Remembering that state is just another meet that simply has a more prominent title.
“We’ve been in bigger meets before and done phenomenal,” Nightingale said. “It’s just another meet.”
Nightingale is returning to state for the third time. She finished 18th overall last year as the Red Knights’ lone representative.
But this year she has a teammate with her. Thorstenson, making her first trip to state, provides a peer who has gone through the late-season practices and felt the same nerves she’s felt.
She, like Nightingale, is embracing the moment with the same mentality.
“I just need to treat it like practice,” Thorstenson said. “Like Scott said, ‘Don’t get caught up in the drama of the state meet.’ It’s like any other meet. We’ve seen all these people before.”
After a strong Section 2A meet last weekend, both girls look ready.
Nightingale won the section with a 378.80 score, and Thorstenson came in second at 326.85. State will provide a new challenge, but both are looking forward to participating in the meet together.
Nightingale said she’s given Thorstenson advice on how to approach her dives at state.
“Don’t freak out,” she said. “I did that my first two years and it did nothing but hurt. Deep breaths, keep doing what you’re doing one dive at a time.”
Smith said having two teammates competing at state can be difficult, because both will be trying to beat one another in the point standings.
Still, it makes the preparation that much more intense.
“The level they push each other to is great,” Smith said.
Both Nightingale and Thorstenson said they hope for Top 8 finishes on Saturday, but both said they have found this year gratifying regardless of their finish.
For Thorstenson, it was taking the next step in her degrees of difficulty and reaching state. For Nightingale, it was finishing her senior year strong.
“Honestly, it’s been the best season of my life,” Nightingale said. “There have been some tears when I’ve been a little frustrated, but less so than the years before. It’s been a really good season, and I’ve enjoyed it so much.”
IF YOU GO
What: Class A State Diving meet
Where: University of Minnesota Aquatic Center (1910 University Ave. SE,
When: Preliminary round: Thursday, 12 p.m.; Championships: Saturday, 12 p.m.