ROCK SPRINGS—Rock Springs High School senior Ali Lange has taken home the Wyoming 4A State Diving title two years in a row, and now she has her sights set on collegiate level diving at a Division 1 school.
Hard Work Pays Off
Lange took second place at state her sophomore year, and won the diving title her junior and senior year, earning herself three All-State honors.
“It feels good being able to know that I have done well within this sport. All-State honors help me reflect on how far I have grown in the sport. I am very proud of myself for these achievements,” Lange said.
She added that winning state is a testament to the dedication she has put into the sport throughout her career.
“I was very happy to win the state title for the second year in a row. Winning the title just shows how hard I have worked over the years,” Lange said.
Favorite Coming into 2017 Season
After winning state last year, she was the favorite coming into her senior year, everyone expecting her to take the title again. However, she had to work harder than ever to bring the title home for the second time.
“There were other girls in the state that wanted the title as well and were working hard to try to get it,” she said. “There were a few meets where I did not perform my best and was beat. These meets gave me drive to work harder.”
Lange went into this diving season as a state title winner, and a school record holder, but she wanted to achieve more, setting clear goals for her season. She wanted to break the RSHS school records, become a back-to-back state champion, and beat the state diving record.
She accomplished all but one of these goals.
“I was able to break both of the school records for diving. For the 11 dive, I had to beat my own record, which was 417.10, and now I set it to 477.55. It was a huge improvement,” Lange said.
She also set the school’s 6 dive record at the Last Chance Meet in Green River, in which it now stands at 262.30.
“It was a great feeling because going into my last dive it seemed unlikely I would break the record. This happened to be my last chance to break the record as well which only added to the pressure,” she said.
Her only goal she did not accomplish was breaking the state record, however it was within her capabilities.
“I broke the record at a different meet, but it doesn’t count. I worked hard but fell a little short, but now I am excited to keep working, and to do bigger and better things with my diving.”
Rock Springs High School
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Struggles Early On
When Lange started diving in seventh grade, she showed a lot of skill and potential, according to Todd Dulaney, Lange’s one and only diving coach for her entire six-year career so far. However, Dulaney said they ran into some problems her eighth-grade year.
“She started out really strong, and then she got a mental block where she couldn’t do the dives she’d always done,” Dulaney said.
He explained that she would “balk” which means she would get to the board and begin to attempt the dive, but then would stop and back out of it. Dulaney pointed out that she balked in practice, but never in a meet.
This mental block prohibited her from making a lot of improvements during her eighth-grade year.
Lange’s freshman year was spent trying to improve her self-confidence in the dives. Throughout the year, she progressed in her diving, and her sophomore year she was competing with the top divers in the state.
“Her sophomore year we were trying to go after the defending state champ from Laramie, but we didn’t have the degree of difficulty to compete with her,” Dulaney said. Lange was a sophomore competing against a senior.
Everything “Clicked” Senior Year
The field was wide open for Lange’s junior year, meaning there was no clear favorite. Lange and Dulaney focused in on the mechanics of her dives.
“We beefed up her degree of difficulty and mechanics and entries, and she started to grasp concepts on what we were talking about,” Dulaney said.
By the time the summer before her senior year came around, everything just “clicked” according to Dulaney.
“She was jumping stronger, which allowed us to go after more difficult dives,” he said, including an inward double half twist, which she tried as a junior but did not have the board work yet.
Her confidence had improved and she had trained hard throughout her high school career, so Dulaney put emphasis on enjoying the sport.
“This year we just focused on relaxing and enjoying the meets, because she put in the work,” Dulaney said.
Lineup of Dives
No longer affected by a mental block, Lange’s dive list became her biggest obstacle her senior year. She had a good handle on several different dives and executed them all well, making it a difficult decision to choose which ones to do in competitions.
“You can’t go over 9.0 in voluntary dives, so we had to move things around, and make possibilities, and see what worked best,” Dulaney said.
Dulaney said Lange’s lineup and order of dives was the key to her success for the 2017 season.
Though Lange had a good handle on several difficult dives, Lange and Dulaney agree that there was some frustration this season with some of her dives, particularly Lange’s favorite dive, the Inward Two Somersaults Tuck.
“In practice she would rip a difficult dive, but in a meet, she was just off. She couldn’t show anyone her true ability,” Dulaney said.
She performed the Inward Two Somersaults Tuck best during warm up at a small meet in Green River Lange recalled. Though Lange could not perform this dive to her best ability during meets, she enjoyed it the most because of the challenge it presented.
“This dive requires a person to stand backwards on the board and flip towards the board twice before entering the water… I really liked the dive because when I did it well it felt good. Not many people in the state can perform this dive successfully,” Lange said.
“I also found it fun because I had a limited amount of time to get it done before I would hit the water. I had to work hard for most of the season to make the dive look well,” she added.
Managing Her Time
When Lange started high school, she set a goal to earn 12 letters in varsity sports. Lange dives in the fall, competes in indoor track in the winter, and plays soccer in the spring. In addition to these three sports, she also competes in gymnastics.
“I love to do sports, and I somehow figure out the time to make all of them possible,” Lange said.
Time management is something Lange and Dulaney have had to work on together throughout her diving career. Dulaney said that he would have liked Lange to dedicate herself just to diving, but he had to adjust so Lange could achieve other goals.
“As a coach, I had to relinquish power,” Dulaney said. “I had to jive with her goals. She wanted 12 letters, so I had to work around that to get the best production.”
Though Lange has a busy schedule, she does not limit diving to the fall. Dulaney credits much of Lange’s diving success to her out of season training.
“Off season training I think was her biggest attribute. She would work off season and still achieve her 12-letterman goal.”
After Lange graduates from RSHS in the spring of 2018, she plans on diving in college while getting her undergraduate education in biological science. However, to get a spot on a collegiate team, she needs experience on the high dive, which is a 3-meter springboard.
“I am planning on working on that throughout the rest of this school year and this coming summer,” Lange said.
Though she has not committed to a college yet, she hopes to dive for a Division 1 school.
Looking Back at RSHS Diving
Lange’s competitive high school diving career has concluded, and looking back through all of it, Lange will miss her coach the most. She recalls that Dulaney made every day fun and she could always rely on him.
“He has been a huge influence on me, and I am thankful that I was able to have him as my coach. He has pushed me to become better. He didn’t give up on me even when I was in my head and other coaches told him to ‘make her a swimmer’,” she said.
Some of her favorite moments throughout the season and her career were laughing at jokes in practice with Dulaney, which helped her maintain a good positive mindset.
“Due to his dedication, determination, and understanding, I was able to become the diver I am today. I will miss him a lot, but hopefully I will still be able to see him at my college meets in the future.”
Lange said she will also always remember her teammates, as well as her competitors, as they helped her become the diver she is now.
“I am sad to leave RSHS diving, but I’m excited to go forth to reach my full potential in college,” Lange said.