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Friendly rivals vie for title

Alex Tilbrook and Austin Hampton are close. Not in the friendship kind of way, but as competitors.

After being separated by just 19 points at districts, the two divers took the Class A state finals down the last dive and seven points.

Tilbrook, an Osceola senior, won the state diving title at North County Aquatic Center on Saturday. Hampton, an Admiral Farragut junior, took second, just as Tilbrook had done for the past two years.

"I always bomb one dive and I always end up losing," Tilbrook said.

Tilbrook's first dive drew 9's from all five judges. His last dive, a triple twist one-and-a-half, is one he almost never misses.

"That's his favorite dive," said Osceola coach Ernie Whalen. "When he hit it, I knew it was good."

Hampton forced Tilbrook, with whom he practices almost every day, to put his best on the board. Hampton's ninth dive drew the highest scores, two 9{'s. Hampton's final dive had a higher degree of difficulty (3.1) than Tilbrook's, but he lost it at the end.

"I had a feeling inside me that that was it if I would have nailed it," Hampton said.

Osceola junior Kyle Blitch, a first-year diver, finished fifth.

In swimming, Admiral Farragut's girls finished ninth. Jacksonville Bolles, which dominated the meet, took its 13th consecutive state title. Bolles' boys team also won, making it 16 straight.

Blue Jacket freshman Christine Thompson finished fifth in the 500 freestyle, behind four Bolles swimmers. Farragut freshman Claire Thompson took seventh in the 200 freestyle and Farragut's 400 freestyle relay team finished eighth.

"What I really wanted to do was make it to finals, because I didn't make it last year," Thompson said.

St. Petersburg Catholic junior Dani Brands fought off a cold all week and was up most of the night before the meet, but qualified for the consolation finals in 100 freestyle and 200 individual medley. Brands won both heats, placing ninth in each event.

Shorecrest junior Adam Moody took seventh swam in the 100 backstroke final for the second year in a row. He finished seventh.