EVANSTON – Riverside-Brookfield sophomore Harrison Nolan was barely in elementary school when he started diving at his country club.
When he was 8, he began training with Windy City Diving, a premier club program based in Chicago.
“Best decision of my life,” Nolan said. “I got so much better at a really rapid rate.”
Nolan is still improving rapidly. After finishing fifth at the state meet as a freshman, he moved up three places this year, scoring 522.95 points to finish second at Saturday’s finals.
Homewood-Flossmoor senior Jack Williams, who is one of Nolan’s club teammates at Windy City, won his second consecutive state championship with a pool record 544.20.
“Me and Jack have been doing travel together,” Nolan said. “We are both on Windy City Diving, so this was basically like practice.
‘We’re both pretty good buddies and it’s good to see both of us do well.”
The Penn-bound Williams took notice when Nolan scored a whopping 604.10 points to win the Lyons Township Sectional by nearly 150 points. That total would have been a state record had he done it at the state meet.
“Once you have someone who is gearing up with you to compete, it pushes you to do the best stuff at every dive,” Williams said. “So when I saw his sectional score, I was like, ‘Oh, boy, it’s going to be a great meet.’
“I’m really working hard on keeping myself calm in these situations while knowing that I have great competition right on my heels.”
The battle for the title turned into a two-way race between Williams and Nolan. Williams led 393.30 to 370.15 after Friday’s semifinal round, with no other diver within 30 points of Nolan.
In the end, Williams won because of a slightly higher degree of difficulty, hitting a back 2 and finishing with a full twisting 2 .
But Nolan was satisfied with his placement, which is the highest finish by a diver in program history. He also is the first Bulldog to win two state diving medals.
“I was really happy with my reverse 1-1/2 with 1 twists and front 2 pike today,” Nolan said. “They were both pretty good.
“The difference this year is I just feel like I’ve gained a lot more consistency, throwing a couple new dives into the mix. I’d say it was a pretty good and consistent year.”
With Williams graduating, Nolan has a good chance of becoming a state champion.
“It feels great to represent the school,” Nolan said. “Although we didn’t have any swimmers (here) and it was just me, it still feels good to be able to represent my school.”
Williams said he was proud of Nolan, whom he credits with raising his game.
“He was one of my first friends when I first started diving club because we look alike and we get along, our humor is the same and our work ethic has always been the same,” Williams said. “So just kind of being able to rebound off each other and give each other advice and be great teammates has really been helpful to me over the years. That’s something I really value.”
In the swimming events, Hinsdale Central tied Glenbrook South for first in the 200-yard medley relay as junior Nolan Lahmann, senior Alexander Cho, senior Cullen Cochlan and junior Erkan Ozgen timed 1:31.31. Lyons Township won the 200 free relay behind senior Bryson Breitenbucher, senior Jack Wanless, junior Michael Schoneman and Jack Thorell, who timed 1:22.70 after setting a pool record 1:22.40 in prelims.
Lyons finished sixth in the team standings with 82 points, while Hinsdale Central was eighth with 54.
Thorell paced LT by finishing third in the 50 free in 20.61 and fourth in the 100 free in 45.42.