HARTFORD— The perfect season had a perfect ending for Norwalk High School junior diver Kevin Bradley.
It has been a winter of gold for Mr. Bradley. The gold medal from the FCIAC Diving Championship. The gold medal from the Class LL diving championship.
And on Thursday evening at the James Brophy pool at Bulkeley High School in Hartford, Brasdley collected the biggest prize of the season — the gold medal at the State Open Diving Championship.
“It feels great. I didn’t expect the season to go this way,” Bradley said after the 11 dives were history. “Last season I hit some obstacles. It made me come back stronger this year.”
Last year, Bradley was a walking advertisement for kinesology tape. On his shoulders. On his back. One could see that the strength was missing from his dives as he battled through the postseason.
This 2018 campaign was completely different. Bradley was undefeated in the FCIAC regular season, extending his school record point total with each meet.
And the junior carried his success at every juncture of the postseason.
As has been his custom, he led the State Open from start to finish through the 11-dive event.
Although being the best diver in the state was the accomplishment, Mr. Bradley’s foes were familiar.
Darien High seniors Owen Stevens and Wiley Schmidt along with Greenwich senior Devon Satir made the arduous auto trek to Hartford to compete Thursday night.
Bradley concluded the evening with 515.15 points to defeat Stevens (505.35), Devon Satir (504.70) and Schmidt (499.80). New Canaan’s James Ragusa (6th, 443.70) also took home a medal.
“I’ve had confidence in the dives. All the hard training I’ve been able to do this year has paid off,” Bradley said. “I’m proud to be State Open champion. And as a junior, the accomplishment is even better.”
Bradley has Stevens and Schmidt to thank for a piece of his success. The trio has spent time together since age 10 in coach Joe Somma’s New Canaan Whirlwind diving club in addition to competing in the FCIAC.
“Kevin, Wiley and I are close friends,” said Stevens, who will be diving at Yale University in the fall. “We’ve pushed each other to be our best. We’ve been fortunate to have each other by our sides. We all want to win. But it’s always a friendly competition.”
Schmidt got one part of the finish he always wanted to his high school career.
“I earned a perfect 10 on one of my dives. It was a great meet,” said Schmidt, who will dive at Florida Atlantic University in the fall. “I’m excited about diving in college. Kevin, Owen and I have truly fed off each other in diving.”
Another enthusiastic passenger on Mr. Bradley’s journey to the pinnacle of Connecticut state diving was Norwaslk-McMahon Co-op coach Chris Passamano.
“The first sign that this could be a great season for Kevin was when he broke the school point mark in the first meet,” Passamano said. “I saw his maturity and things just snowballed. He succeeded throughout the FCIAC season. This State Open was another FCIAC meet. We knew who the big four finishers would be tonight.
“What I liked about tonight’s performance was it was a grind. Everybody brought their best stuff. The margin for error was slim,” Passamano continued. “It was a proud battle to complete a great season.”
Greenwich High went home having completed its most important mission. With Devon Satir (3rd), senior Sergei Shaw (7th, 441.55), freshman Joel Satir (16th) and junior Michael McNulty (20th), the divers gave the GHS boys swim team a points boost heading into Saturdasy’s State Open Swim Championship at Yale.
“Little mistakes hurt us,” said Greenwich diving coach Sergey Mescherskiy. “Once we fell behind, it was hard to comeback when a State Open title is at stake. Kevin Bradley was strongest and most consistent throughout. He earned his gold medal.”
The point gap to Class L swim champ Darien and Class L third place team New Canaan is not far.
Ridgefield’s Caitlin Inall gave the Tigers a boost with her 14th place finish in the field of 24 that dove all 11 rounds.
STATE OPEN DIVING CHAMPIONSHIP
At Bulkeley High School James Brophy pool, Hartford
FIELD OF 24 DIVERS: 1, Kevin Bradley (Norwalk-McMahon) 515.15 points; 2, Owen Stevens (Darien) 505.35; 3, Devon Satir (Greenwich) 504.70; 4, Wiley Schmidt (Darien) 499.80.
5, Brendan Downey (Avon) 451.40; 6, James Ragusa (New Canaan) 443.70; 7, Sergei Shaw (Greenwich) 441.55; 8, Hadden Gaunt (Wethersfield) 440.70; 9, Andrew Buehler (Sheehan) 430.90; 10, Justin Corres (Brookfield) 429.10.
11, Chase Galayda (Southington) 428.00; 12, Liam Simmons (Weston) 414.80; 13, Jason Bagdasarian (Glastonbury) 395.35; 14, Caitlin Inall (Ridgefield) 395.00; 15, Jackson Camporin (New Canaan) 389.60; 16, Joel Satir (Greenwich) 389.35.
17, Ethan Godfrey (Glastonbury) 387.30; 18, Nicholas Jefferson (Glastonbury) 385.45; 19, Malaki Tatum (Simsbury) 380.30; 20, Michael McNulty (Greenwich) 357.95; 21, Uranik Klobucishta (Amity) 357.35; 22, Jason Rickenbacher (South Windsor) 346.45; 23, Matheus Silva (Kaynor Tech) 325.75; 24, Marcas Racevicius (Holy Cross) 318.90.