116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — There was nothing but disappointment this time last year for Samantha Klein.
As her teammates on the Iowa City West swimming and diving team were preparing for the state meet, Klein, a senior who attends Iowa City Liberty, was only able to watch.
“I was disappointed about not being able to attend last year after getting a pretty bad case of pneumonia before regionals,” she said.
So Klein, who finished eighth in the state diving competition as a sophomore, was sitting at home while her teammates were able to grab a second-place state finish behind Ames.
Not being able to compete at state drove Klein to train even harder in preparation for this season. That work has paid big dividends up to this point.
She enters Friday's state diving competition as the No. 1 seed, based on her score of 493.35 at the regional meet, which was 27 points higher than No. 2 seed Nat Freeman of Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
The state meet's two-day run begins with the diving at 11 a.m. Friday. Swimming preliminaries are set for 5 p.m. with the swim finals scheduled for noon on Saturday.
With Klein and fellow senior Scarlet Martin leading the way, No. 3 West is again a contender for the state title. No. 1 Waukee and No. 2 Ames are considered the favorites with the Trojans in contention.
If Klein were to win a state title, or place high in the standings, it would be a big boost to West's team chances.
“Having points from diving will be huge for us,” said West Coach Byron Butler. “The other top teams in the state are a little outside of scoring or lack divers completely. It will certainly give us a great chance to compete for a high team finish.”
The start of Klein's diving career came about by chance.
“My mom (Jamee) had originally signed me up for swimming lessons,” she said. “Following my evaluation, she saw that there was diving going on at the same pool. She then spoke with the coach about signing me up for the beginner lessons and I have been doing it since.”
Lori Meierbachtol, who serves as the diving coach for the West and Iowa City High programs, got a glimpse into Klein's potential at an early age.
“I actually first met Sam and coached her when she was about 8 years old,” said Meierbachtol, who dove collegiately at Indiana and coached divers at Marshall University and Northern Iowa before taking on her current position in 2019. “She would come to visit her grandparents in Iowa during the summer and she would dive with my club divers.
“I think I knew then that she was going to be a great diver. She really has always had a great understanding of the basic mechanics of diving, which probably comes from her club diving background. She’s always been a good student of the sport and has a great sense of how to make corrections to improve her own dives.”
Klein's family moved to Iowa in 2019 and she was reunited with Meierbachtol, who believes the best is yet to come for her prize pupil, who will continue her diving career next year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
The first step could come Friday.
“Sam just has to be consistent,” Meierbachtol said. “She doesn’t have the highest degree of difficulty out of all the divers, but she has an ability to perform all of her dives pretty flawlessly. She is truly an amazing competitor and knows what mental and emotional state she has to be in to dive her best.”
And Klein's opinion?
"I think the key to my success this year has been finding a way to handle the pressure during meets," she said. "Prior to this year my nerves have sometimes gotten the best of me, but with the help of my coaches I have been able to stay calm and confident during competitions.
“Winning a state title would be a perfect way to end my high school career. It has always been a goal of mine to win a state title and it would be amazing to see that goal become a reality.”
What: IGHSAU State Swimming and Diving Championships
Where: Marshalltown YMCA
Schedule: Friday: 11 a.m. - Diving, 5 p.m. - Swimming preliminaries. Saturday: 12 p.m. - Swimming finals
Tickets: $10 per session. Online purchase only.
Live stream: IGHSAU.org
(Top-seed and Gazette-Area swimmers)
Diving: 1. Samantha Klein (ICW) 493.35, 3. Nat Freeman (CRJ) 466.10, 4. Audrey Leno (CRK) 465.20, 6. Corrin Williams (LM) 441.55, 7. Lacey Neighbor (CRK) 439.25, 11. Isabel Hawker (CRW) 407.85, 12. Brinley Krivachek (Dec) 403.13, 14. Gretta Stainer (ICH) 400.90, 15. Maggie Schlamp (LM) 398.70, Aimee Varga (ICW) 397.90, 18. Kylie Link (CRK) 381.25, 23. Kate Denner (LM) 369.15, 32. Kailyn O'Gara (Dec) 352.40.
200-yard medley relay: 1. Ames 1:45.91, 9. Iowa City West 1:50.05, 11. CR Kennedy 1:50.62, 19. Decorah 1:54.04, 27. Linn-Mar 1:56.18, 32. CR Jefferson 1:57.49.
200 freestyle: 1. Jessi Wigham (Waukee) 1:51.32, 3. Jade Roghair (ICW) 1:53.99, 5. Kolby Reese (ICW) 1:55.29, 12. Lauren Trent (ICW) 1:56.21, 13. Lucy Haars (LM) 1:57.19, 20. Audrey Repko (CRK) 1:59.04, 23. Raylee King (CRK) 1:59.80, 26. Lilly Weber (LM) 2:00.48, 30. Emily Brennom (LM) 2:00.95, 33. Taylor Matta (CRK) 2:01.30.
200 IM: 1. Olivia Swalley (Johnston) 2:04.75, 2. Hayley Kimmel (LM) 2:04.86, 8. Olivia Taeger (ICW) 2:11.08, 9. Makala Hajek (ICW) 2:11.28, 15. Ellie Hance (CRK) 2:12.86, 19. Anne Baumann (CRK) 2:13.68, 22. Lilly Adams (CRK) 2:13.99, 28. Abby Jones (CRW) 2:15.84.
50 freestyle: 1. Meghan Donald (Ames) 23.24, 3. Grace Hoeper (ICH) 24.02, 6. Ella Hochstetler (ICW) 24.28, 10. Maria Trotta (CRK) 24.54, 23. Paige Werner (Dec) 25.15, 29. Lily Haars (LM) 25.27.
100 butterfly: 1. Scarlet Martin (ICW) 54.72, 4. Ella Hochstetler (ICW) 57.99, 12. Maura Carstensen (LM) 59.18, 24. Ellie Hance (CRK) 1:00.72, 27. Emily Voyna (Dec) 1:01.00, 29. Karen Liu (ICW) 1:01.43, 30 Meera Julka (CRK) 1:01.53.
100 freestyle: 1. Meghan Donald (Ames) 51.02, 5. Grace Hoeper (ICH) 52.32, 9. Olivia Taeger (ICW) 53.08, 10 Maria Trotta (CRK) 53.68, 13. Lucy Haars (LM) 54.22, 14. Lily Haars (LM) 54.31, 21. Raylee King (CRK) 54.79, 27. Makala Hajek (ICW) 55.01, 30 Paige Werner (Dec) 55.34, 31. Justyce Dominick (V-S) 55.60, 32. Julia Alberts (Dec) 56.09.
500 freestyle: 1. Jessi Wigham (Waukee) 5:00.57, 2. Jade Roghair (ICW) 5:03.83, 6. Colby Reese (ICW) 5:09.09, 7. Lauren Trent (ICW) 5:09.60, 9. Audrey Repko (CRK) 5:10.14, 11. Lilly Weber (LM) 5:10.71, 20. Casey Gannon (CRK) 5:19.99, 20. Emily Brennom (LM) 5:20.73, 28. Margaret Rhodes (Dec) 5:23.54.
200 freestyle relay: 1. Ames 1:36.39, 2. Iowa City West 1:37.14, 3. Linn-Mar 1:37.86, 8. CR Kennedy 1:39.37, 17. Iowa City High 1:42.81, 18. Decorah 1:43.20.
100 backstroke: 1. Scarlet Martin (ICW) 55.76, 10. Carlee Wilkins (ICW) 59.23, 11. Lilly Adams (CRK) 59.28, 12. Anne Baumann (CK) 59.42.
100 breaststroke: 1. Hayley Kimmel (LM) 1:04.22, 26. Casey Gannon (CRK) 1:10.41, 29. Addi Mougin (CR Jefferson) 1:10.69, 30. Abby Jones (CR Washington) 1:10.94.
400 freestyle relay: 1. Iowa City West 3:32.29, 5. CR Kennedy 3:36.40, 6. Linn-Mar 3:36.60, 21. Decorah 3:46.49, 26. Iowa City High 3:47.94, 32. CR Jefferson 3:53.13.