MILFORD, Mass. – Milford High School junior Michael Mason is heading to the state diving championships, but it wasn't that long ago that he was just messing around in the pool and doing flips in gym class.
Mason took home the Hockomock League title Thursday, and though he was competing against only one other male diver, he was thrilled to win the meet and qualify for states.
“This is an amazing feeling,” he said. “This is actually the first big meet I won, and this was also the last chance I had to qualify for states, so I’m really happy about that.
“Knowing it was my last chance for states, I kept telling myself to not overthink it,” he added. “Just stay calm, breathe and just do what you do normally, and now I get to head to states.”
The sectionals take place next week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by the state championships a week later at Springfield College. Mason has rarely competed against other male divers, so the next two meets will be a different experience for him.
“It’s going to be a huge mental challenge, because I’m going to be very nervous before the meets,” Mason said. “It’s going to be tough, really tough, but I’m excited for it and looking forward to facing the best from the state.”
This is Milford’s first season in the Hockomock League, which has been a “huge change,” said Milford head swimming coach Dave Chaplin.
“We went from a league where everybody had diving components to the Hockomock, where there are only two male divers,” Chaplin said. “So Mike has had minimum opportunities to make the qualifying standards.
“But he’s going to get to dive at the sectional championships and state championships, and we’re thrilled to death,” the coach added.
If it wasn’t for Chaplin, Mason might not be diving today. He wasn’t listed as a diver back in freshman year, but that all changed during one gym class.
“I was fooling around on the diving board during gym class, and my coach saw that I was doing flips, and he asked me to try diving,” Mason said. “I decided to try it, I ended up liking it and now I’m heading to states.”