Lewis-Palmer coach Alan Arata couldn’t watch when Aric Althouse started diving.
“Aric was terrible,” Arata said. “He couldn’t walk on a board. His body went in all different directions.
"Every dive was thrown incorrectly. He would throw with his head or with short little arms and everything else. Honestly, the first time I saw him dive, I had to cover my eyes.”
Althouse, a senior, agreed with the assessment down to the word.
“I was terrible freshman year,” Althouse said.
Midway through that first season, however, Arata started to notice Althouse’s potential.
“There are certain things I’ve seen people do over the years that were very hard for them to correct, and he had some of those things, but he was making corrections,” Arata said.
“I turned to (assistant) Rick French over there, and I said, ‘He’s a bad diver, but he is coachable.’”
Althouse improved to the point he set the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference record of 496.6 as a junior.
He crushed that Friday at his last PPAC meet with a 591.45 to earn Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week.
“To bump that up by like a 100 was absolutely shocking,” Althouse said. “It was something else.”
It wasn’t always a smooth climb for one of the better Ranger divers in recent history. He qualified for state as a freshman, but didn’t make it out of the prelims. As a sophomore, he reached the semifinals but bowed out there.
His junior year was when he started to feel competitive at meets.
“I don’t think there was a week that went by my freshman, sophomore and halfway through my junior year where I wasn't like, ‘I’m not a diver. I’m too tall. I’m too big,’” Althouse said. “There was just so many things I could say as an excuse, but I just said, ‘What’s the worst that could happen? I might as well go for it.’”
What’s next ended up being the biggest bump in the road. Althouse hit his head on the board while practicing over spring break last year.
He had a couple seizures in the pool before a lifeguard rescue and ambulance ride to the hospital.
“At that point, I was terrified of diving,” Althouse said.
“It really hadn’t registered until then that you can hit your head and you could be out for an entire season. Recovering from that has been probably the best thing that I could’ve done.”
Althouse found himself too close to success to turn his back on the sport.
He recovered quickly enough to finish fifth at state as a junior.
“He moved all the way from 18th to fifth just diving like he should have,” Arata said.
Heading comfortably into his final state meet with a well-rehearsed list of 11 dives, Arata said Althouse is in a group of six divers that could finish anywhere from first to sixth. Althouse has his eyes on a top-three showing.
“I want to win, of course, but I’m not going to be disappointed with top three considering where I came from,” Althouse said.
Regardless of where he finishes, Althouse plans to continue diving at Air Force’s prep school next year, where he can prepare for three-meter and platform dives and the academic rigors of the service academy before joining the Falcons’ Division I program.
It’s a far cry from the tall, stiff kid who struggled to point his toes and keep a compact shape as a freshman.
“He was not flexible - you’ve got to be flexible as a diver. He made himself flexible. Now when people watch him do an approach on the board, they think, ‘Oh, how skilled is that guy? He’s so skilled.' But no, he couldn’t walk on a board,” Arata said.
“All these things he didn’t have, and everybody should just give up on him, but when someone is willing to work really hard, it’s an amazing thing.”
Other Peak Performers
Grant Mondejar, Cheyenne Mountain
The sophomore did a bit of everything to help the Indians clinch a state berth for the first time since 2012. Montejar earned a six-out save in a 2-1 win over Mead in a regional semifinal before going 3 for 3 at the plate and starting the game-ending double play in a 3-2 win over Fort Morgan for the regional title.
Charlotte Cliatt, Palmer
Cliatt earned a trip to Boulder for the state tournament after finishing sixth at Monday’s Class 5A Southern Regional at Colorado Springs Country Club. Cliatt shot an 82 to lead a pair of Terrors who earned individual slots at state.
Deano Johnson, Cheyenne Mountain
The junior created extra possessions for the Indians in an 8-6 win over Thompson Valley to send the Indians to a Class 4A semifinal by winning 13 of 17 faceoffs against a team that beat Cheyenne Mountain earlier in the season. He also recorded four ground balls and two shots on goal.
Mallory Hybl, Cheyenne Mountain
The senior closed out her prep career with a hand in four of her team’s five goals against top-seeded Cherry Creek. She finished with three goals and an assist, finishing the year with 40 goals and 13 assists.
Megan Boucher, Colorado Springs Christian School
Boucher, a sophomore, gave up a goal in the first minute of Saturday’s state playoff game against DSST-Stapleton and was beaten a second time in the first 40 minutes. She pitched a shutout in the second half, however, allowing the Lions to advance to the quarterfinals with a 4-2 win. She finished with nine saves. She made five saves in a clean sheet against Eagle Ridge earlier in the week.
Boys’ swimming and diving
Kyle Leach, Cheyenne Mountain
Leach joined Lewis-Palmer diver Aric Althouse in breaking a Pikes Peak Athletic Conference meet record Friday when he touched the wall in 49.86 in the 100 butterfly. He also won the 200 freestyle by nearly 10 seconds.
Corey Patton Lossner, Cheyenne Mountain
The senior won the No. 2 singles bracket at last week’s state tournament in Pueblo, winning her first two matches in straight sets before beating Valor Christian’s Darby Warburton 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the semifinals. She downed Lewis-Palmer’s Austynn Crocker 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 in the finals.
Boys’ track and field
Brendan Young, Canon City
The Tiger junior scored in bunches for the Tigers at Saturday’s Class 4A Colorado Springs Metro League meet, winning the long jump (22 feet, 9.5 inches) and the triple jump (44-4). Young also placed second in the high jump, clearing 6 feet.
Girls’ track and field
Mikayla Cox, Doherty
The sophomore displayed command of two different distance races at Saturday’s Class 5A Colorado Springs Metro League meet. Cox won the 800 meters by more than two seconds in 2 minutes, 21.76 seconds. She also won the 3,200 in 11:54.8, nearly 10 seconds ahead of second place.