Division II Cleveland State District girls diving: Chagrin Falls' 'Dancing Queen' Samantha Holtz captures fourth district crown

Feb. 14—Between the preliminary and semifinal rounds Feb. 14 of the girls session of Division II Cleveland State District diving, divers in the field joined together for a raucous singalong to ABBA classic "Dancing Queen."

The unifier in this instance? None other than the DJ, Samantha Holtz, herself a queen on diving boards across the Buckeye State.

The Chagrin Falls senior is having the time of her life as she winds down her decorated high school career, and the punctuation she notched when competition restarted?

See that girl, and watch THAT scene.

Holtz was in rare form to secure her fourth career district diving crown amid a captivating performance, with an 11-dive district-record score of 519.05.

She belted out the hits during breaks, and she added several more as she entered the water as well to get her 4-for-4 at district, three at CSU and one during the pandemic-riddled year at Massillon Perry in 2021.

‍♂️ Here are all 11 dives from Chagrin Falls' Samantha Holtz as she captures her 4th career district with a meet-record 519.05 at the D2 CSU District, along with Sam getting her following the competition

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) February 14, 2024

"It is really special," Holtz said. "You only get four high school years, so to be able to do it every year is really special, alongside my great coaches and these wonderful divers. It is really special.

"I've only broken 500 once in my life. So to get a PR here was really special. Going into state, it just makes me more confident."

Since 1999 in district swimming and diving competition among current News-Herald coverage area schools, just seven girls swimmers have gone 4-for-4 in an individual event: Gilmour legend Macie McNichols (50 free), Hawken greats Alyssa Kiel (200 and 500 free), Carrie Bencic (500 free), Jess Eden (100 back), Marissa Cominelli (100 back) and Sarah Koucheki (100 fly) and NDCL's Jesse Radtke (50 free).

There hadn't been a girls diver — the closest being Holtz and Hawken's Kendall Swett tied with three apiece — until Holtz broke the tie.

Her 11th dive of the afternoon — and 44th of her brilliant tenure at the district level — was a beauty. Holtz went for a inward 2 tuck and hit for a 60.20, with the score drawing wonder from fellow divers and onlookers alike.

"My last dive was an inward double, and one thing about that dive is I do not practice it," Holtz said. "I do not like that dive. I tell myself every day, 'I'm just going to stick it into the meet.' And it ended up working out today. Maybe next time, it won't work out. But that's kind of the joy of it, being the last dive. I don't really worry about it."

The rest of the slate with trademark Holtz precision, with 50-plus scores on her fourth, a forward 2 1/2 pike, and her 10th, an inward 1 1/2 pike.

As for playing the role of DJ, Holtz was elated to bring some atmosphere and charm to what can be a long morning and afternoon around the boards. The "Dancing Queen" — and throughout her career, the District queen as well.

"My coach Dan brought his speaker today, and thank goodness, because I need some good music to get me through these longer meets," Holtz said. "So yeah, I kind of took some of the girls' recommendations. I had a playlist from what we play at practice. Yeah, that was me playing music. It was just really fun.

"It was really fun. I see these girls not that often all throughout winter season, and to be able to come together and all kind of sing together and dance together, it created a great environment."

Holtz will have company among The News-Herald coverage area ranks on the road to Canton.

Beaumont senior Riley Becker capped a vast year-over-year improvement in her second year as a high school diver by taking third with a 383.75. That marks a 94.75-point ascent from when she was seventh a year ago in her Blue Streaks' postseason diving debut.

‍♂️Here are all 11 dives from Beaumont's Riley Becker as she takes a career-best 3rd with a 383.75 for her 2nd state berth out of the D2 CSU District

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) February 14, 2024

"It really shows how much hard work I've put in throughout the whole year," Becker said. "I've been spending like every day doing it. I had a goal of putting in the effort. And I have a really good coach in (legendary diving coach Jeff Arnold). That also helps a lot. His knowledge is very useful."

Becker set the tone in Round 2 of prelims with a 44.00 on an inward 1 1/2 tuck, momentum which carried into a strong final round. The now two-time state qualifier, who is the highest district placer in diving for Beaumont since Anna Brick was D-II runner-up in 2012, hit for a 33.00 on a challenging back tuck on her ninth and a 41.40 on her penultimate attempt, a back 1 1/2 twist.

She had a unique route to diving, but it has paid off handsomely.

"I did gymnastics for seven years before (volleyball), and I really missed flipping," Becker said. "My mom harrassed me for I think, like, two years to do diving. And I finally did it junior year. I actually love it.

"I'm actually pretty surprised, to be honest (with my improvement). I didn't think I was going to get this far. And now I get to do diving in college. So I'm pretty excited."

‍♂️ Here are all 11 dives from Beachwood's Nina Mayers as she takes 8th with a 304.00 for her 1st career state berth as a senior out of the D2 CSU District

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) February 14, 2024

Rounding out the trio of coverage area divers en route to Branin Natatorium next week is Beachwood's Nina Mayers. A feel-good narrative, Mayers earned her first career state berth as a senior with an eighth-place finish with a 304.00, 33.60 better than when she was 14th at CSU a year ago.

‍♂️ Beachwood's Nina Mayers discusses her 8th with a 304.00 to earn her 1st career state berth as a senior out of the D2 CSU District

Always ❤️ when student-athletes get that 1st state shot as a senior — 12th as a freshman, 14th as a sophomore & junior

Good for her

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) February 14, 2024

‍♂️ Here are all 8 dives from Perry's Ella Gigante as she competes in the D2 CSU District

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) February 14, 2024