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Warriors Athlete of Week: Diver rises to occasion at section meet

Brainerd Warriors athlete of the week Cami Harmer practices a dive Tuesday before traveling to the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center this week for the Class 2A state meet. Steve Kohls/ Brainerd Dispatch

Cami Harmer was sitting in sixth place after the prelims of the Section 8-2A diving meet and needed to move into the top four to qualify for state.

Undaunted by that prospect, Harmer was relatively confident she could secure one of those four state qualifying berths due to the degree of difficulty on her remaining dives.

"I kind of stacked my (dive) list at the bottom so that I can get the most points there," said Harmer, who finished third. "I don't usually worry about place throughout the prelims and semis because I know that I have harder and higher-scoring dives toward the end."

Warriors diving coach Mary Streiff knew consistency would be the difference between qualifying for state and missing the cut for Harmer and her Brainerd diving teammates Emma Korhonen and Anna Herath. Divers have to execute 11 dives reasonably well to have a chance to advance to state.

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Cami Harmer

  • Sport: Diving
  • Year: Junior
  • Age: 16
  • Height: 5-foot-3
  • Career highlight: Qualifying for state her freshman year
  • Other sports: Gymnastics, track & field
  • Grade-point average: 4.0
  • Favorite class: AP Biology
  • Favorite food: Fruit
  • Favorite TV show: "The Office"
  • Favorite website: "Twitter"
  • Hobbies: Traveling, working out
  • Future plans: Attend college
  • Favorite diver: Olympic diver Kassidy Cook
  • Parents: Bart and Nicole Harmer 
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"It's not easy to do that in a long competition like that, click off one dive after the other," Streiff said, "but that's what she did. Looking all the way through the competition, Cami really didn't miss a dive, which is why she steadily kept climbing. She was able to secure third in the finals by going in and doing her job."

During the finals, Harmer attempted to relax as much as possible and trust her training.

"I just kind of cleared my mind and told myself that my body can do what it's been doing all season," she said. "I just did what I needed to do to complete those dives."

Streiff said the atmosphere for the finals compared to the prelims and semifinals is a night and day difference.

"We compete in the morning (for prelims)," Streiff said. "The pool is quiet, there's not a huge crowd there. For the finals, all the swimmers are in there, they're all amped up, the stands are packed beyond belief. Suddenly you get out in that arena and sometimes kids can't come through in that situation.

"Cami did a great job. She's a competitor. She's been in that arena before where she's competed in front of a big crowd. She mentally prepared herself. She had a big dive on dive No. 10, a front double pike that I felt like this is a make it or break it dive for her. She did great—she hit it. That's what catapulted her up and kept her in a solid third position."

Harmer is accustomed to competing in the Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota. As a freshman, she qualified for state and finished 22nd.

"I think that's going to push me, at least to improve that placing," Harmer said. "I would like to place 21st or higher. If I don't, that's OK too because it's a fun experience."

Harmer's junior season included four victories, four runner-up finishes, four third-place finishes and one fifth place. Of the 13 people who beat her at various times this year, only three did not qualify for state.

"I think I did a lot better than I expected," Harmer said. "I worked really hard. I went into the season wanting to better my best and not pay attention to the other competitors. I wanted to improve each time."

Streiff said Harmer competed against some of the state's top divers throughout the season.

"She's the kind of girl who always steps up in a competitive arena," Streiff said. "I don't put anything past her in competition. I know she will rise to that occasion. She certainly did that (last) weekend."

Other notable efforts:

• The 200 medley relay of Katie Streiff, Julia and Jamie Wallace and Kylie Lange qualified for state with a runner-up section finish. Streiff also qualified in the 100 butterfly with a second-place finish.