Diver Logan Bauer battles adversity and fulfills his natural talent

 

Winning can always be an uplifting feeling for an athlete, but having an undefeated season and two conference crowns is something many athletes can only dream of.

But dreaming big and aiming high was not the only thing freshman GLIAC champion diver Logan Bauer wanted to do. Instead, he turned his dreams into a reality after going undefeated the entire season and capturing two diving championship titles in the one and three meters at this year’s GLIAC Swimming and Diving competition.

Competing for the first time in this year’s new NCAA Division II caliber conference, the freshman diver was able to bring home the gold, becoming Malone University’s first GLIAC conference champion.

Freshman diver Logan Bauer is only one of two divers on the Pioneers men’s team. The 2012 1-meter Ohio state champion has continuously set and broken his own school records this season in Pioneer meets as well as become the first Pioneer GLIAC champion. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

“It was pretty exciting,” Bauer said. “Winning conference is a big deal but being a freshman and doing it is just unheard of. You don’t see that and I was the first to do it ever. It was a good feeling.”

The dedicated freshman dove his way to two first-place finishes nearly three weeks ago by scoring a total of 518.45 points in the one-meter, Bauer beat his second-place opponent by 21.75 points.

But it wasn’t the one-meter that had Bauer at a close match-up.  Although Bauer was able to garner two championship titles, the roller-coaster conference ride was not all easy going for the freshman diver.

Curveballs

You never know what will come at your way during a game, race or competition. This was especially true when Bauer entered his first preliminary round of the three-meter GLIAC diving competition.

Seeded as first coming into the competition in both the one and three meter, Bauer came into the competition feeling ready to go and ready to win.

“I was going into the competition first in both one and three meter,” Bauer said. “I knew I had a good chance of winning but you never know what could happen or if you are going to mess up, which in my case I did.”

Failing a dive can be a huge setback for a diver, and it essentially put Bauer in fifth place after the preliminary round after leaning forward a little too much, causing his feet to slip off of the board.

But after shaking off the mistake and refocusing himself, Bauer knew he had to nail every dive in the final round of the competition.

“I was extremely mad because I have never messed up like that before in competition,” Bauer said.  “I just knew that if I wanted to make it back to finals, I had to drill my next three dives. So after I went into the coaches’ office and threw a big fit, I got myself back together.”

With the help of an encouraging coach and an unexpected friendly opponent, Bauer knew that he had only one thing to do.

“My coach talked to me and said ‘It’s just one dive’ and that I am still doing good if I nail these next three dives,” Bauer said. “Then right after that the guy from Wayne State that was my main competitor came up to me and said that it was fine and not to worry about it and that made me really happy and that’s when I realized ‘okay, I have to do this’.”

And that is exactly what the determined diver did in the final round of his three-meter competition. Nailing his last three dives, Bauer was able to garner his very first GLIAC conference title with the total score of 498.70, edging his friendly opponent from Wayne State by roughly eight points.

“I was so relieved,” Bauer said. “I came back during finals, won and showed everyone up. It was a good feeling.”

Then after a battling win, Bauer snatched his second GLIAC championship title in the one-meter.

Bauer prepares to jump off the board for his dive at a home meet earlier this season. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Finding his niche

There is no doubt that diving has brought the freshman success, but what many people may not know about the driven diver is that the sport is relatively new to him.

“Three years ago I was at the town pool where I live and I was doing flips off the diving board,” Bauer said. “I was just playing around and this lady came up to me and was like ‘Hey, I am the New Bremen summer diving coach and I think you should really give diving a shot.’

“I went and tried it with the summer league there and that’s when I got started. We had a big summer league championship that I ended up winning that summer with it being my first summer ever diving. I was literally only diving for two months and I won the championship.”

That is when Bauer had first thought of potentially diving his junior year of high school. After winning his summer league, diving coaches from all over were looking to train the talented diver.

“This coach was looking at me after that summer championship and asked if I would consider diving in high school,” Bauer said. “He believed that I had what it took and so I was on board. ”

After committing his promises to coach Kerry Smith, Bauer and Smith worked together to get the diving program started at Botkins High School, becoming the first diver to ever compete.

“I was the first diver and probably will be the only diver ever at my high school,” Bauer said. “ And so I was a junior and I got into some competitions and won a couple and then I went to sectionals and won that then went on to districts and then I got second at districts which qualified me for state and that is when I  realized that diving was starting to become a big deal for me.”

After making the state meet for the very first time, Bauer was able to place 2nd overall amongst the experienced, competitive field. And just like that, the new diver found his niche.

“What many people don’t know is that I was a gymnast for 12 years,” Bauer said. “I was a ten time national champion in gymnastics but I didn’t love it anymore. It was wearing me down and so I retired from gymnastics after I placed 2nd at the state meet because I had this hunch that diving was going to take me somewhere and that’s when I knew it was my time to give up gymnastics.”

After finding his love of a sport and giving diving more of an opportunity, Bauer went on that year taking diving more seriously.

Training long hours a day and setting his sights high, Bauer was able to come back his senior year and win a State title with only his second year of diving.

“I really worked hard that year,” Bauer said. “By the time my senior year came around, I was winning a lot more. I won sectionals, districts and actually set a new state record. Then when state came around, I was able to win that and that’s when everything clicked and I knew I was made to be a diver.”

The right choice

After a successful high school career, Bauer was bombarded with multiple universities of all levels. From Division I to Division III, Bauer had a wide selection of college choices to choose from.

There was no doubt that the established diver could have any university to choose from, but it was small, Christian school named Malone University that had him sold.

“The way I saw it was I could go Division I but I wouldn’t be known the way I am now,” Bauer said. “I knew if I went Division II I would get myself known and get myself out there. So good ole Brian Peresie talked me into it and the diving coach I have now is absolutely amazing and I think that helped me to choose to go here.”

The rest then was history for Bauer after he signed with the Pioneers and became the university’s first GLIAC champion.

If you want something so bad, you have to work for it ,” Bauer said.” I didn’t get any of it handed to me, I had to work for it. I put in hours and hours of training to get here. Sweat, tears, bruises and broken bones to get me to this place.”

But it wasn’t all fun and games for Bauer after he settled his first semester here.

Trials and terrors

Like any other athlete, the freshman diver had to deal with the hardships and struggles of being a college student-athlete.

“Mid-way through my season, I started going through a lot,” Bauer said. “I had some home issues with some friends back at home and I was going through a lot with school and it was a lot to handle.

“It reflected on my diving as well because I was trying too hard and I was trying to do new things too fast so that caused me to always mess up. I just felt like I wanted to give up.”

Also dealing with injuries from his previous gymnastic career, everything had hit the first-semester athlete.

“Everything was carrying over from when I was a gymnast,” Bauer said. “It wore my body down and I was feeling some injuries I got from gymnastics. All of these things were hitting me at once and this was a time where I thinking maybe this wasn’t right for me.”

Despite a struggling semester, Bauer was able to regain himself and saw some light at the end of the tunnel.

“I talked to my coach and some friends here and took some time off,” Bauer said. “During this time I realized that I couldn’t just give up and that I still had a lot going for me, so I came back and competed.”

Promising future

Through an exciting three year journey, Bauer has gone from an inexperienced diver to two-time GLIAC champion and his future is only looking brighter.

Diving his way to a qualifying USA standard in diving, Bauer sees his diving career taking him to the next level.

“This year has been crazy,” Bauer said. “This motivates me even more to push myself to get better so that my future looks good. I want to go as far as I can with diving and I am not going to give up until I get what I want . This only opens my eyes more and makes me want to work harder.”

So where is the diver heading next? Bauer hopes to train towards the AT&T nationals, which is a prestigious diving competition for USA qualifying athletes.

Already hitting the qualifying mark, Bauer is excited to work towards his future.

“I don’t exactly know where my next step is but all I do know is that I’m going to start competing for USA ,” Bauer said. “I have some meets that I’m looking into so that I can hopefully qualify for AT&T Nationals.”

Bauer wipes himself off after performing his dive in a home meet earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Bauer also shared his thoughts of the next summer Olympic trials in the next four years.

“I can for sure see myself going to trials,” Bauer said. “I already have a qualifying score for the trials but since its four years away its too far away to actually get a seeded spot but hopefully I can even improve a lot more so that by the time the competition comes around, I can be there.”

Closing

It is no secret that Bauer is an impeccable walking image of hard work.  His dreams and visions have not only come true but have grown to be his passion in life.

“If you want something so bad, you have to work for it ,” Bauer said.” I didn’t get any of it handed to me, I had to work for it. I put in hours and hours of training to get here. Sweat, tears, bruises and broken bones to get me to this place.”

Bauer also encourages athletes to stay positive and to never give up on the dreams they are fighting for.

“Don’t give up,” Bauer said. “Keep fighting for what you want because eventually it does pay off.”

Tina Oprean is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.

 

 

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