The fourth time was the charm for Douglas diver Moira McPherson.
During her first year at the Wyoming 3A State Swim Meet as a freshman, McPherson took seventh in the 1-meter diving event. Her next year back, she took fourth. And last year as a junior, she finished just eight points shy of the top spot to land in second.
She was named to the 3A All-State team for the first time in 2017. But beyond that, McPherson wanted bragging rights as the top diver in the state and rightfully so. She had come so close.
So at last weekend’s state meet in Laramie, McPherson did what she had been setting out to do since her freshman season. When it was all said and done, she stood atop the podium. She had gotten over the hump.
“It felt pretty good,” McPherson said about becoming a state champion. “Before the last three dives it was pretty close from bottom to top. Even seventh to 12th place was only a few points away from each other.”
After preliminaries on Friday, McPherson held a nine point lead over Kyra Klinghagen of Worland, her diving buddy from across the state. Teammate Lauren Pooley sat in seventh and moved on to the finals on Saturday along with McPherson.
When the stakes became higher and the nerves more prominent, the All-State diver kicked it into overdrive.
“I felt like there was a lot of pressure,” she said heading into finals on Saturday. “I’ve been doing a lot of the same dives for such a long time but with some of the tougher ones, it can sometimes be hard to get over those mental blocks.”
The mental blocks were no problem for McPherson. Neither was the pressure of her final opportunity to bring home a state crown.
She finished the final round in first with a score of 366.55, a personal best and ahead of Klinghagen in second by a staggering 28.40 points. Pooley took seventh with a score of 297.20.
As her high school diving career comes to an end and McPherson prepares to pass the torch on to Pooley and any other divers who may follow in Douglas, she hopes her accomplishments can set an example to follow.
“Having spent the last three years with Lauren (Pooley), I have a feeling it’ll impact her in a way that she’ll be able to go out and continue succeeding,” McPherson said. “I was really proud of her this year.
“But I also hope it inspires younger kids in middle school or any underclassmen. To show them that they can give it a shot, you never know what you can do.”
She added, “I don’t want them to ever give up when things get hard.”
Rest of the Pack
Fellow senior Sheridan Mathis took third overall in the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 2:07.97, an event she took second in last year at state. She also took fourth in the 500-meter freestyle in 5:50.90. She finished just short of being named All-State for the third straight year but along with McPherson, concluded a superb four years as a member of the Lady Cats.
Mathis also swam in the 200-yard freestyle relay with teammates Isabelle Mathis, Faith Hayes and Shayla Moore.
Moore took 13th in the 100-yard freestyle and finished just a second shy of qualifying for the finals. Mathis (Isabelle) finished 24th with a time of 1:04.62. Moore also finished 13th in the 200-meter freestyle and just .59 seconds short of qualifying for the finals. Hayes finished 19th with a time of 2:16.86.
Lexis Temple, Christina Haroldson and Anna Quinn also competed for the Lady Cats in the 200-yard medley relay preliminaries on Friday, along with Pooley. As a team, Douglas finished 10th overall with 54 points.