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Freshman Diver Amanda Melish is a State Champion and School Record Holder by danielle abril, amy gordon and anna smith

Freshmen athletes typically have one goal: to make a team. Coming from middle school, freshmen do not usually attend summer captain’s practices or engage in team bonding activities. Most certainly, they do not expect to walk away from their first season as a state champion.

However, freshman Amanda Melish did just that.

For the past four years at Walpole High School, only one or two divers have qualified for the state competition, and none have placed. This year, however, on Nov. 18 at the MIAA Division II State Championship at Harvard Blodgett Pool, Melish placed first for the state title with 504.85 points after 11 dives.

Melish poses after winning the South Sectional Championship. (Photo/Danielle Abril)

“It feels great [to be a state champion],” Melish said. "It was great way to end a great season."

Melish was just one of two Walpole divers competing at the state competition: herself and junior Deirdre McCarthy. Melish defeated her competitors during the first two rounds and clinched the top spot with 347.00 points as she headed into the finals.

“I got a little bit better, and finals came around. It was an okay start, and then it was really stressful because it came down to nine points at the end. Four points ended up being the difference between first and second,” Melish said.

Melish accomplished defeating a rival, this year’s Bay State Conference winner, Emma Petrovich, who is a senior from Wellesley. She came back victoriously against Petrovich in the South Sectional Championship and the state championship, where Petrovich placed second in both.

This was not her only accomplishment for her freshman season. Melish also managed to surpass the Walpole High School dual meet record with 326.92 points after six dives. The previous record holder for WHS is former diver and 2013 state champion Hannah Phelan, who scored a 254.00 as a sophomore in 2013.

Melish and Brady pose at the MIAA Division II State Championship after the competition. (Photo/Haley Gilmore)

“When Amanda came on deck that first day, she had a better degree of difficulty package than Hannah did. In the world of diving, that’s all you want to have,” diving coach Chris Brady said.

In addition to making her mark at WHS and breaking her own records, she has also made a positive impact on her teammates.

“She always pushes us regardless of our ability. She is just so determined everyday. She still likes to have fun, but she always puts the work first before anything else," junior Catie Martin said. “You can just tell she loves the sport so much; every time she’s on the board she’s smiling. She just loves it and she works really hard at it, so her work pays off."

Although Melish already has great achievements, she is still looking forward to the next season, so she can defend her title.

“She’s definitely going to continue to improve. I know Coach Brady has plans for her, and she’s super determined and will continue to excel,” junior Emily Duseau.

Melish completes a dive during the state championship. (Photo/Haley Gilmore)
“She always pushes us regardless of our ability. She is just so determined everyday. She still likes to have fun, but she always puts the work first before anything else," junior Catie Martin said. "You can just tell she loves the sport so much; every time she’s on the board she’s smiling, she just loves it and she works really hard at it, so her work pays off."

Coach Brady recognizes Melish’s rare talent as a freshman to balance the amount of academic work with her commitments to club diving, gymnastics, and cheerleading.

“Amanda learned how to manage a two-and-a-half to three-month season, and all the surprises it has in store for you,” Brady said.

Although Melish was busy preparing for the postseason, she still managed to be a supportive teammate by guiding them all season and giving them advice on their own dives.

“She’s been a contributor more than just a diver, she’s worked with a couple of the other divers by helping them improve their technique. That’s the biggest thing as a teammate," Brady said. "She didn’t just go in the corner and execute her skills, she became a part of the team and really tried to help people out."

Melish wears her state metal alongside Brady. (Photo/Haley Gilmore)
"She’s been a contributor more than just a diver, she’s worked with a couple of the other divers by helping them improve their technique. That’s the biggest thing as a teammate," Brady said. "She didn’t just go in the corner and execute her skills, she became a part of the team and really tried to help people out."

Melish, though just a freshman, has already made her mark on WHS Swimming and Diving team. With school records and a state title under her belt, she will return next season to work even harder with Brady and will continue helping her teammates along the way.

“That’s what I try to project as a coach—you’re part of a family, everybody supports everybody, and everyone supports everyone. Do good today, and tomorrow be a better diver,” Brady said.

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