Gering’s Miller dives after state honors, Seacats record
     2013-02-21      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Gering junior, Seacat Noah Miller achieves a beautiful snapshot in time during the Scottsbluff Invitational Swim Meet several weeks ago. Miller says that diving is "a big mental game." He is the lone diver for the Seacats. 
Noah Miller is one of a kind on the Scottsbluff/Gering Seacats swimming and diving team this season.
Miller, a junior at Gering High School, is the Seacats’ diving team.
Being the lone diver, who has qualified for this week's Nebraska State Swimming and Diving Championships for the second straight year, he said has its advantages.

For one, when the Seacats hosted the Twin City Invitational, Jan. 18-19 at Scottsbluff High School’s Splash Arena, Miller had the home crowd advantage and stage to himself.

And, one week after he qualified for state in his first 11-dive program of the season, Miller won the boys’ competition at the Twin City meet with a personal- and season's-best score of 325 points.
"I was really happy with my performance,” Miller said the day after his competition, which puts him with the 20th-best state qualification score entering the state championships' diving competition Thursday.

“I not only passed 300, which is the state qualifying score, but beat (the) last week’s score of 312 and I also beat my personal high of 318, which was really nice to shot that I have improved.”
With his Seacat teammates sitting at the far end of the pool, and easily drawing the loudest support of any of the 12 divers who competed at the meet, Miller won the boys’ program by more than 40 points.

One of Miller’s early scores was a 39, which really drew a roar from the home crowd – and applause from many of his competitors as well.

“Thirty-nine points is definitely good, because when that pops up, that’s good because I need to average 27-1/2 points per dive in order to get the 300 for state,” Miller said. “So when I have dives that score 39 points, that gives me 13 points or so leeway. I keep a tally in my head if I’m going to be close to 300 or not.”

In between dives, Miller turns his attention to mental preparation for the next attempt. In watching him, one sees how focused he gets in getting ready for that next dive.

"I like to separate myself sometimes because I'm there to win and do the best I can. It's a big mental game,” Miller said. “I might even over-think things, but I make sure I've thought through everything that my coach reminded me I needed to do.

“I think of all that before I go up there, and I do any sort of stretching I need to that's particular to that dive, like if I need a nice, tight tuck I will stretch my legs before I go up there."
Miller utilized a long-standing relationship that the Seacats have built with Omaha Westside, in which each plays host to the visiting team members in their homes and they have a joint team meal together after the diving competition on Friday night.

At the Twin City meet, when he wasn’t locked into his deep mental preparation, Miller chatted with some of the Westside divers in between his attempts and seemed to enjoy the company.

“Westside and us really have a neat bond because we stay in each others’ houses and it helps save both of our teams a lot of money in motel rooms,” Miller said. “It’s just pretty neat that we have something like that worked out, so Westside and us are close to each other and we cheer for each other. We’re friends.”

Miller said Westside’s facility is his favorite place to compete on the road. And he scored a 311 at the Warrior Invitational on Jan. 25, saying he started well but then missed a few dives at the end of his program.

“I really enjoy Westside’s meet because they have a nice pool and they have nice people, and I really enjoy their gym next to the pool,” he said. “That gym is jam-packed full of teams sitting all over."

Miller said he enjoys being the Seacats’ initial competitor at meets.
“I like it a lot, because I’m usually first, and then the rest of my trip has no worrying of how I’m going to do,” he said. “All the pressure’s off, so I can enjoy the rest of my trip. While the rest of the swimmers are still nervous about their events, I’m getting to feel good about the rest of my trip and enjoying it.”

The Cheyenne meet, where Miller qualified for state, was a one-day event and required him and Scottsbluff/Gering diving coach Deb Post to rise and travel earlier than the rest of the Seacats. Some inclement weather the day before also played a role in their travel plans to the Wyoming capital city.

“I got up at 3:30 that morning, we left my house at 4, and when we got there teams were already practicing,” Miller said. “They had a two-hour warm-up, with 26 kids competing, so I had plenty of time.”
For the most part, Miller said the divers all support one another – that is, until the competition gets heated.

“I have some friends with some of the teams from over there,” he said of the Wyoming schools’ divers, “and one of them always gives me tips on my dives, and he got second. He's a really nice guy, and I like that because a lot of the really good people are cocky and don't want to talk to anyone who's not as good as them, but he's really nice to everybody.”

Speaking of friendly relationships, Miller said the Seacat team members are just that, with school affiliation and the usually fierce Twin City rivalry set aside for the sake of the swimmers and diver.

“We don’t see it too much because a lot of the people who are swimmers don’t have as much of a hatred as much,” he said. “Like basketball is during swimming season and that’s a rivalry, but the other sports aren’t during our season. We get along great and there’s never been a problem with that. You don’t even think of ‘Oh, they’re from Gering or they’re from Scottsbluff.’”

While many of the Seacats got their start in swimming as part of the Scotts Bluff County Torpedoes swim club, Miller got his start in diving in two different non-water activities: trampoline jumping and bicycle motocross racing.

“I’ve done trampoline since grade school,” he said. “I got this Olympic-sized trampoline from my grandparents’ house because my dad (Dana Miller, a former Seacat diver who is now Gering’s fire chief) grew up jumping on it, and it just jumps you so much higher compared with the ones you buy nowadays. They don’t the same spring.”

After suffering a broken arm while competing in BMX, Miller said his parents influenced his decision to try something different. And Dana Miller, who used that same trampoline as a youngster, saw his son follow his path into the diving arena.

“I started right at ninth grade,” Noah said. “I enjoyed jumping on the trampoline, so I just felt that it would be something I might like.

“I was nervous coming into it. I didn’t have a clue about how many divers they had or if it would be hard. It wasn’t near as bad as I thought it would be and I really enjoyed it. I was actually the only diver for a little while, then they had a girl come back who had dove the year before and dive with me.”

Miller had two diving teammates for the first part of this season but is the Seacats’ lone diver now. And while he enjoys being in the spotlight for Scottsbluff/Gering during the diving competitions, sometimes being the lone wolf can have its drawbacks, especially during practice time.

Miller has to practice after the Seacats’ daily workouts end at 5:30 p.m., because his diving area requires two of the pool’s six swimming lanes to be open. He usually works out with Post for two hours each weeknight, and when the Seacats are off, like they were last weekend, he also practices on Saturday.

“It does get kind of hard at times, just because I am alone a lot and I wonder why I am still doing it,” Miller said. “But my coach is usually there and I enjoy her. And my dad was a diver for the Seacats when he was in high school, and he keeps me motivated too.”
The main drawback to his practices, Miller said, is the Torpedoes also have their practices while he is doing his diving workouts.

“It’s kind of hard because concentration is so big, and I’m having to deal with a bunch of noisy kids, so that makes a kind of interesting aspect,” Miller said.

Before this year’s diving season began, Miller participated in tennis in Gering’s first-year program during the fall.
“It was a lot of fun and we beat Scottsbluff a couple times, and that felt kind of good since it was our first time and they’ve had a program for years,” said Miller, who played doubles. “It almost brings you closer; it doesn’t make things awkward or anything.”

Miller said his goal for this year’s state meet, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bob Devaney Sports Center's aquatic arena, is to make the top 12. His 325 from the Twin City meet is 21.20 points behind the 12th-place diver entering the state meet.

In his final tune-up for state on Feb. 8, Miller won the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Championships boys' diving title with a score of 318.90 points.

"My main goal is to go down to state and make it through both cuts, which would put me in 12th place or better,” Miller said. “That would make me really happy, but the main thing is going down and giving it my best."

And Miller has his eyes on another goal for either this season or his senior year next year: the Seacats’ school record.
“My goal for next year, if it doesn't happen this year, I would really like to break one of the records up on the school-record board in there, which is 367.8 points (for an 11-dive program),” he said of the school record, set by Jose Arellano in 2006. “I was 40 points away, which means I would have to score about four points
higher on each dive.

“It's doable if I have a really good day, I could definitely hit that. It will probably end up happening next season, but I would love to leave my name up there to show that I was here for four years.”

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