SPRINGFIELD — One good day can launch a career. For Kickapoo freshman Chloe Cothern, that day came at the Ozark Conference/COC Championship Meet.
The first-year varsity diver had not always been so willing to try the dives she was executing. A longtime gymnast, it took a while to get used to landing headfirst rather than on her feet.
For some reason, everything came together.
“It was just another meet that I could compete it,” said Cothern. “I started building points and I was like… I’m getting pretty far up there.”
A jog through the memory bank told the freshman she was approaching history.
“I knew the record was 415 points for Kickapoo. I was on my last dive and it was on I kind of struggle with. I thought: I could either do this or it’s not going to be very good.”
Cothern stuck the landing, so to speak, on her 11th dive, breaking a 30-year-old meet and Kickapoo record by 12.75 points.
“I just went into it to have fun and once I broke the record it was like… this is a big record that’s been here for a long time. I got pretty excited.”
Longtime diving coach Richard Hackett expressed his surprise over her performance, saying that, like with most freshmen, the consistency is still being hammered out.
“She is capable of doing things like that on any given day,” he said. “Earlier, there were certain dives that she was afraid of and not comfortable doing. As the year has progressed she has just gotten so much more comfortable and confident and has done a great job.”
Not bad for a girl who admitted she didn’t expect much coming into her first varsity season. It’s yielded more than she bargained for, including a state qualifying performance at the Webb City Invitational in late January, making her the first freshman diver from Kickapoo to pull off the feat in over a decade.
For any swimming & diving competitor, there is no better atmosphere for seasoning that in St. Peter’s.
“It’s always something to go to a different place with different boards,” said Cothern. “You don’t know how they feel or know the atmosphere as much, so I’m going into it a little nervous but I’m just ready for it.”
Cothern isn’t a total stranger to those surroundings. She made the trip to east Missouri the past two years to watch her brother, Cam, compete in the 200M and 400M Freestyle Relays for Kickapoo. Now, she will be the one under the spotlight, a position that Hackett echoes will go a long way towards her growth.
“She realized that she had to make those progressions if she wanted to develop into a state-level diver,” he said. “She just decided she was going to make those things happen and she did.”
Cothern will join 10 fellow Lady Chiefs at the state meet, which begins on Friday.