Melish Becomes Walpole’s First Two-Time State Champion for Diving

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Melish Becomes Walpole’s First Two-Time State Champion for Diving

Melish poses with her family after her State Championship win.

Melish poses with her family after her State Championship win.

Melish poses with her family after her State Championship win.

Melish poses with her family after her State Championship win.

Catie Martin, Sports Editor

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There is one thing in the world of high school athletics that all athletes strive for: being a state champion. Regardless of the sport, teams and individuals set goals to get closer to a coveted state title. For some athletes, it may only happen once in a career, but for most, it may never happen at all. However, for sophomore Amanda Melish, it has already happened twice. 

On Nov. 18, 2018 Melish became the MIAA Division II State Champion, and on Nov. 17 2019, she did it again. Becoming the first-ever two-time state diving champion in the history of Walpole High School, Melish set a new school record with an 11 dive point total of 529.05. 

“This year’s state meet was more stressful for me compared to last year,” Melish said. “Since I won last year, I felt an expectation that I had to win again, but when it came time to start diving, I just cleared my mind and dove the best I could.” 

Over the course of the competition, Melish battled with two Winchester divers: Donna Zhang and Tabitha Chen-Fiske. Melish, Zhang and Chen-Fiske were neck and neck up until round five when Melish took the lead, just 3.30 points ahead of the second-place diver. 

Out of all of 11 dives competed, Melish scored two “10s” and seven “9s”. Melish’s point total of 529.05 was 70.80 points higher than the MIAA Division I State Champion who competed earlier in the day. Melish not only achieved school records, but she also achieved a personal record by beating her last year’s state championship score and previous Walpole High School record by 24.2 points.

Melish competing.

“This year and last year were very different [for Melish]. When she was a freshman, she was a bit of an unknown and mainly relied on her physical strength and a dive program with a high degree of difficulty,” dive coach Chris Brady said. “This year was a mental challenge, as she was the standard everyone was chasing.” 

This season, however, has not been as glamorous as Melish makes it look. One month into the regular season meet schedule, Melish opted out of competing and practicing all together due to a foot injury and did not return until two weeks before the state meet. 

“It was a lot harder for me to do well this year as opposed to last year mainly because of my injury,” Melish said. “I used the two weeks prior to the state meet to my advantage and wasted no time in regaining my strength on the board.” 

Not knowing the right path to take, Melish took the risk of missing her whole regular season altogether in order to rest and be at her best for the championship meets. 

“Everyone was hoping that by sitting out those eight meets, [Melish] would have enough time to heal to the point where she would be able to compete for the South Sectional and State Championships,” Brady said. “In what turned out to be a very tough competition for the State title, I believe that the mental toughness she learned this season was key to her second straight victory.” 

Despite her injury, Melish still joined her fellow divers at practice almost daily to support and help them in their own competition. 

“[Melish] is a great coach and I’ve really learned a lot from her this year,” sophomore Maggie Singer said. “Not only has she taught me basic technique but also that diving is a mental game and the best way to do something is to just go for it.” 

Melish’s presence on the pool deck and her efforts to help her teammates when she was not competing herself made for a great season for the whole Rebel Swim and Dive program. 

“As for the time she was down for those eight meets, [Melish] was instrumental in helping her fellow divers improve their skills,” Brady said. “She was very much a second coach on deck: teaching, encouraging and challenging. And most importantly being a great teammate.”  

Melish continues to further her diving competition as she dives all year round for the Boston Area Diving club. Melish will work throughout the off-season competing in other national competitions and tournaments to keep improving.

“My main goals for next season are to improve my diving list and add more difficult, higher point dives, as well as repeat my state title,” Melish said.