As if the magnitude of the moment wasn’t high enough, the announcer at Friday night’s state diving championships held at the University of Maryland, College Park, certainly helped to clarify. As the defending champion, Winston Churchill High School senior Mashal Hashem was called to the springboard to start the 11th and final round of the competition, it was announced to all in attendance that this would be the defending champion’s final high school dive. And, with a sizeable lead over teammate Kali Becker, it was all that stood between the Northwestern University recruit and her second state title.
“I did hear [the announcement],” Hashem said. “But I just tried to keep my mind blank. I felt pretty relaxed coming in, I didn’t put emphasis on defending the title, just on doing my best.”
Hashem’s final high school dive, a front 1 1/2 with a full twist, was her best and the night’s highest scoring dive and with it she closed out her high school tenure with her second straight state championship.
The 2014 Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving champion finished with a University of Maryland pool record 474.65 points, ahead of the previous record holder Becker in second place with 456.50 points. Damascus’ Emily Langworthy (420.95 points), Walter Johnson’s Katie Young (392.40) and Damascus’ Madeline Kline (381.45) rounded out the top five.
Earlier in the evening, Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior Jack Crow won his first state title, finishing more than 50 points ahead of the rest of the field. Crow’s 493.70 points broke his own previous school record for points earned in an 11-round competition, which he set in a runner-up finish at Metros, by about 15 points. Quince Orchard’s Joseph Canova (441.10), Tuscarora (Frederick County) senior Shane Miller (414.60), Sherwood’s Cody Carlson (413.55) and Walter Johnson’s Patrick Collishaw (406.05) finished second through fifth. Crow finished third at the state competition a year ago behind former Paint Branch standout TJ Shinholser and his own Barons teammate, 2013 graduate Parker Rigaux.
“It was really fun because I remember last year seeing TJ up [on top of the podium] and wanting to get where he was,” Crow said.
Friday was a fitting ending to what was a bit of a breakout year for both Hashem and Crow. While they have been among the D.C. area’s best in recent years, both have truly come into their own as confident top-ranked talents. Earlier in her career, Hashem might have been overshadowed by Becker, who won two consecutive Metros as a freshman and sophomore, but Friday marked her third consecutive major championship — two state titles and this winter’s Metros.
Crow was mere points away from his first Metros title earlier this month after breaking into the top 3 as a sophomore. He said, as weird as it feels to be the leader, he has started to embrace his position at the top.
“[Hashem] ended with her best and favorite dive and that’s a fun thing to end with,” Churchill coach Brendan Roddy said. “Mashal has this beauty in the air that makes even the simplest dives look elegant. Mashal never really has seen herself as, as good as she is. Winning Metros, then regionals then states [Friday], she put it all together. She let herself be the winner.”