If Saturday's Hinsdale Central diving meet was, as it was billed, a mini-state meet, then Naperville Central's Peter Rusenas has a lot to look forward to when the actual state meet comes along.
Rusenas dove out to an early lead and kept the distance between himself and the rest of the field, which included most of the top divers in Illinois, to win the Hinsdale Central championship.
"It was a fun victory," Rusenas said. "After hitting my first few dives, I was able to do everything in a fluid motion, just the way I do in practice."
Rusenas has taken first in four invites and in every dual meet in which he's participated.
His 405.20 winning score follows a 425, his highest ever, that he achieved in a dual meet at Sandburg on Friday.
"It just feels amazing to see my scores going higher and higher as it gets closer to state," Rusenas said. "In every meet I try to take away several things that need improvement and that I can work on in preparing for the next event."
The closest scorer to Rusenas was Aaron Ach of Glenbrook South, who finished with 382.40. Chris Canning of Loyola was third with 382.35.
Downers Grove South's Josh Jager was ninth with 335.95, and Naperville North's Thomas Petersen finished 10th with a score of 330.85.
Rusenas's teammate Joe Gucwa was just outside the top 10 at 323.55
"Peter's degree of difficulty isn't the highest," said Naperville Central diving coach Dave Likar. "But the dives he's doing he's consistently doing 7s and 8s. At this meet his dives were very clean all day."
Likar said that Rusenas is working with more difficult dives in practice, but they're not ready to take one of the solid dives away and put in something more risky.
"Hitting my dives really well and consistently works for me," Rusenas said. "I go into every meet comfortable with the dives I throw and how I throw them."
Both Rusenas and Likar believe the Redhawk is a strong candidate to finish in the top three at state.
"It's hard to beat him if he doesn't miss anything," Likar said. "He should be strong at state."
Likar said that one unusual thing about Rusenas is that he dives much better once the meet starts than he does in warmups.
"I think I try too hard in warmups," Rusenas said. "I'm trying to perfect things beyond my capabilities. But in the meet I realize that everyone is under stress and that relaxes me. I also try to interact with everyone around me. That lifts me up and puts me in a better mood. It makes the entire environment better."