EHW SWIM AND DIVE: Record-setter heads to state

Like her forward 1 1/2 twist, Erica Bonthuis’ athletic career has taken a turn.

From the time she was a toddler, Bonthuis was a gymnast. As she grew older, Scheuermann’s kyphosis, a disease where the vertebrae grow unevenly and cause back pain, crept in and forced her off the mat.

The jarring pace of cross country and track smarted as well.

But her parents Mark and Rhonda were determined to find a sport their daughter could enjoy without the sting.

Last year, she showed up at an Enumclaw High swim team practice to give diving a try.

“This sport doesn’t make you hurt,” the shy junior said.

In fact, diving makes Bonthuis smile.

For the second straight year, Bonthuis will compete at the state Class 3A 1-meter diving championships Nov. 11 and 12 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

She earned her spot at state with a first-place finish at the league meet. Her 337.10 points met the state-qualifying criteria and set an EHS 11-dive record. The former record belonged to Kaycee Joubert who set the mark at 334.40 in 1994.

The magic number for state qualifying is 300 points with a degree of difficulty of 11.6.

“Her dive sheet was incredible,” EHS diving coach Steve Bannerot said. “It was all fives and sixes.”

Judges score on degree of difficulty and execution, then toss out the highest and lowest scores.

Divers, Bannerot explained, are trying to learn the hardest dives in a short season. Bonthuis competed in the Hornets’ regular meets, which are typically six-dive events. Bonthuis added three dives to her repertoire in the past two weeks, including one Bannerot tossed in the day of competition to seal the deal – an inward somersault, pike position.

“She nailed it,” Bannerot said. “It wasn’t hard, just challenging before a meet.”

A back, 1 1/2 tuck and an inward 1 1/2 tuck were Bonthuis’ hardest dives.

Harder than the execution of the dive, Bannerot said, is knowing all the rules and regulations in an 11-dive competition. That’s his job. After calculating and recalculating, he told Bonthuis there was no margin for error.

“I was nervous,” Bonthuis said.

It didn’t help, she said, that the venue was silent.

Bannerot said she was spot-on.

“She was amazing,” he said.

Both said the transition from gymnastics to diving is hard.

“You have to unlearn gymnastics which is fast, fast, fast,” Bannerot said. “Springboard you have to wait.”

Her gymnastics background enhances her diving.

“She has such pretty lines,” Bannerot said.

In addition to her diving, Bonthuis is a member of the EHS cheer squad, but it’s Bonthuis who has Hornet fans cheering.

After her big win, her parents called friends and family to share the news. Then, instinct sent them to the Enumclaw Aquatic Center to sneak a peek at the record board.

“We knew it was right around that,” Rhonda Bonthuis said of Erica’s point total. “We thought she might have broken the record.”

Bonthuis is excited about the trip to state and the record, although it’s not a jumping-up-and-down, tell-all-your-friends excitement.

She just smiles.

“She’s very modest, very quiet. She’s always been wise beyond her years,” Rhonda Bonthuis said.

“I think it will be a lot less nerve-wracking having been there twice,” the younger Bonthuis said of her trip to state in a couple of weeks.

Last year, she was a last-minute, wildcard entry at the state meet. She survived two cuts and scored high enough during the preliminary round to carry her into the finals, where she completed the final three dives, not feeling her best, of the 11-dive contest to finish 13th.

Earlier this season, Bonthuis got the chance to return to the King County Aquatic Center dive tank during the Hornets dual meet with Decatur.

She also plans to compete Friday and Saturday at the West Central District III 3A meet in Renton, for the added experience and to help out the Hornets. Bonthuis has been a big point-earner for the Hornets this season. She alone earned 22 points for EHS in its second-place finish at the league meet.

The district meet, which combines with the Narrows, Olympic and Seamount leagues, will also give Bonthuis and Bannerot a chance to eye the competition, especially Kennedy Catholic which has a couple of the state’s top divers.

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