With his coach/father Gary text-messaging his older brother and fellow state champion Danny the moment-by-moment results of the WIAA State Division I diving competition Feb. 21, Menomonee Falls sophomore Nathan Cox couldn't help but feel the comfort of family as he claimed his own state crown.
"Dad's been a coach for over 20 years and he just knows so much," Nathan said Sunday afternoon. "He works well with Coach (Falls assistant Larry) Kluwe too. ..and Danny (a 2005 state champ and Purdue collegian) just really keeps me motivated. I want to take down his records someday (laughs)."
But there were no laughs, just a few nerves as Nathan entered his second state meet. He had dove a great deal when he was younger, but took some time off to play baseball. He resumed diving when he was a freshman and when he returned, it was like he had never left.
Which led to the last week's amazing events. He came into Saturday's competition at the UW-Madison Natatorium with the top sectional score, but both he and head swim coach Jim Weitzer knew that meant little as judging varies from sectional to sectional.
"I knew I was in a group of three or four guys who thought they could win it," he said. "I knew I had a chance. I just had to work to keep my nerves at bay." He got that help from teammate and eighth-place finisher Michael Torielli, who battled back problems to record a strong finish.
"He just made it easier (with his presence)," Cox said.
Which Weitzer said was a serious bonus.
"They really push each other and work with each other so well," he said. "They set good examples for each other and set the bar (for performance) very high, which is saying something because my expectations are always high."
"But Nathan is very good to work with. He always has a very positive attitude."
Which he used to help steady himself as he moved himself from fourth in the preliminary round to first in the semifinals by a precarious .45 of a point over Michael Donofrio of Marquette. He then used what he called "his five best dives" to roar to a 19 point victory with a 396.65 point total.
When he splashed his 11th and final dive successfully, he knew the remaining four competitors could not catch him and that he could begin to celebrate his title, especially for the person he thought would appreciate it the most.
"This is so awesome," he said, "but it's more awesome for my Mom (Kristin) because she can go around saying that that she has two state champs in the family."
Which was just one of the fine moments of a very good day which included a phone call with Danny, a dinner with his parents and grandparents and some hanging out with friends.
"I was a little in shock when I went up on the podium," he added. "It took awhile for it to sink in what had really happened."
Behind the two diving finishes, the Menomonee Falls/Hamilton/Germantown co-op finished 16th at state with 64 points as Madison Memorial won with 200.5.
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