By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
WEBSTER -- It's been nearly two months since Amsterdam junior diver Kristian Santos stamped his ticket to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys swimming and diving championship meet, but it hasn't been two months of perfecting a set routine.
Rather, in the two weeks of practice since he won the Section II small-school diving championship in dominant fashion, Santos has tried to throw as many curveballs into his routine as possible in an attempt to amp up his score in this weekend's 1-meter springboard competition, which opens with prelims and semifinals today before Saturday's final round at Webster Schroeder High School.
"I've changed a lot of my dives for states," Santos said Thursday. "I moved some around and I added some, too. ... I wanted to add to the difficulty of my dives, try to get the best score that I can."
In particular, he's thrown in a brand-new dive that he's particularly energized about putting into his slate.
"My double-twister, I'm pretty excited to throw that in the meet," he said.
The AHS junior enters the event with a season-high score of 459.45 that he set two weeks ago at the Section II diving championships, good for the 21st-best total among the 46 divers entered this weekend. Santos' Amsterdam-record score was the second-best posted in all of Section II this season, trailing only large-school sectional champion Adam Bonk of Shenendehowa (510.40).
Santos originally qualified for states Jan. 5 at the Schenectady Invitational when he posted a score of 428.05.
Thursday, Santos arrived for the competition and got his first feel off the diving boards at Webster Schroeder during warm-ups. He also got a chance to do some advance scouting of the rest of the field.
"I got a feel of the atmosphere, and I also got to see who else was diving," he said. "It's nice just to see who you're diving against, get a feel of how the boards are."
Santos said he's aiming to crack the 470-point barrier with his diving program duringthe two days of competition, hopeful that will improve him several positions from his opening seed. As a junior, however, he said that this weekend should serve as a good introduction to state competition before an intended encore next year as a senior.
"To have the judges know who you are, that helps you," he said. "People will know your name, and that's good."
The only thing that could've made this weekend even better for Santos would be having his Amsterdam teammate, training partner and friend Connor Liverio diving at states alongside him. Liverio, also a junior, was the runner-up behind Santos at the Section II small-school championships, but his score of 396.75 was just 24 points shy of state qualification.
Santos said that Liverio will be on hand for the competition this weekend, but that he'll miss having him down on the pool deck with him -- not only for the absence of the complicated sequence of fist bumps and high-fives that the duo exchange before every dive, but for the advice they're able to exchange with each other during competition.
"It's gonna be different without Connor," Santos said. "It's someone to talk to, and not to criticize but to review all your dives with and push us to our best. He's coming down, though, so he'll be there and it'll be cool -- but it would be cool if he was diving."
Next year, however, Santos is hoping that Amsterdam can send a diving double act to states.
"Definitely," he said. "Definitely, next year we'll be here."