St. Francis de Sales High School diving coach Scott TenEyck doesn't throw out
praise just for kicks, so it's a pretty big deal when he says Knights junior Dylan Szegedi is one of the most talented high school divers he's ever coached.
"He's going to be either second or third (all-time)," said TenEyck, who has coached at St. Francis since 1996. "At the top state level, kids are throwing harder dives and Dylan has the potential to be right up there. Right now he's the third-best boy I've ever coached, if not my second best."
TenEyck, who has also coached St. Ursula Academy's divers for 14 years, has had one state diving champion at St. Francis (Andy Seibenick) and one state runner-up (Scott Koenig). He also coached his oldest daughter, Brittany, to back-to-back state titles for Lake High School.
Szegedi, who was born and raised in Oregon and still lives there, scored 368.65 points to place 12th out of 24 divers last season at the Division I state swimming and diving championships in Canton.
Last summer, TenEyck took Szegedi and several other divers to a summer camp at the University of Buffalo, where TenEyck has been a member of the coaching staff for eight years.
"We had a real good camp at Buffalo, where we have an intense training session," TenEyck said. "We changed Dylan's (diving) list to a pike list, which increases his degree of difficulty. We moved all of his dives to a pike instead of a tuck. We beefed up his list so he is more competitive at the state level."
Szegedi said he was more than willing to increase his diving degree of difficulty, or "DD," which is the basis for how dives are scored by the judges.
"I knew if I wanted to be competitive at the state level, there is only so much you can do with DD," Szegedi said. "To be competitive today, you have to dive a pike list. I knew Scott would get me there.
"I'm doing pretty good right now. It's starting to get to be crunch time. Sectionals are (next) Friday and districts are after that, and hopefully states. I'm starting to peak right now. I'm getting there real quick."
Szegedi's highlight thus far during his junior season was when he was chosen the "Performer of the Meet" at the Little Giant Swimming and Diving Invitational at Fremont Ross. Szegedi set a new pool record for most points scored for the six-dive meet, and he beat 30 other divers in the process.
"At the end of the meet they announced I was the outstanding athlete of the meet for swimming or diving," Szegedi said. "I thought that was really cool. I never thought they would give that to a diver. It was a great accomplishment and I was very proud."
Szegedi also took first at the Napoleon Invitational and third at the Knight Invitational.
A three-sport athlete — he also plays cornerback in football and left field in baseball at St. Francis - the 5-8, 165-pound Szegedi doesn't devote all of his time to diving.
TenEyck, however, said Szegedi quickly became accustomed to his new diving style.
"From July to December, he's come into his own," the coach said. "What we're working on right now is cleaning up his lines because he's a muscular, strong diver. Unfortunately, that shows. In diving we want that strength but we want to hide it with grace, and that's our hardest task."
TenEyck added that Szegedi works as hard, if not harder, than any of his five divers at St. Francis.
"He's the first on the board, the first to practice," TenEyck said. "He's a leader among the kids I coach in the high school program. He's real hard on himself and that's something we work on. He gets mad when he doesn't make the corrections he knows he needs to make, but he's wonderful to work with."
Szegedi, who has a 3.6 GPA, admitted he can't argue with his coach's assessment.
"I guess you could say I'm real tough on myself," he said. "I'm a perfectionist in everything. If I have certain goals for myself and if I don't meet them, I kind of feel like I haven't achieved what I set out to reach. If I set a goal for myself, I want to reach it."
Szegedi started diving competitively at age 8, but he stopped two years later before getting back on the board during his freshman year.
"Scott's been my coach forever, and he's one of the best coaches in the area," Szegedi said. "When I came to St. Francis, I wasn't sure if I was going to dive. Scott talked to me and I decided to come out my freshman year and I placed seventh at districts, and here we are."
TenEyck said Szegedi is poised to win the Division I district diving title on Feb. 18 at Bowling Green, then finish strong in Canton.
"I train (divers) so they don't peak until we get to the district/state meet," TenEyck said. "There's a chance he could be top eight at state."
Szegedi, whose long-term goal is to dive for a Division I college program, said his main focus right now is to do whatever it takes to have a medal placed around his neck on the awards podium at the state meet.
"My goal is to place in the top eight, which would make the podium," he said. "The goal for the sectional is to win and make it to districts, and the goal for districts is to make it to states. To do better than top eight at states this year would mean I had an unbelievably great meet - the meet of my life - but I think top eight is realistic my junior year. That's a good goal to set."