CONCORD — De La Salle High's Kristian Ipsen pulled off a rare feat Thursday at the North Coast Section diving championships, receiving perfect scores from all five judges on the day's final dive at Concord Community Pool.
As it was, Ipsen was in a league of his own all day in winning the boys competition with a score of 699.60 points. Earlier in the day, San Ramon Valley sophomore Katja Pidel won the girls title with 404.95 points. Granada senior Katie Thralls kept it close with a second-place finish of 401.30.
For Ipsen, however, the perfect 10 capped a near-perfect day.
Most other years, Amador Valley junior Tyler Pullen would have had scores good enough to win. As it was, Pullen finished second with 515.25 points, more than 100 points better than third-place finisher Spencer Corley of Cardinal Newman (411.45).
Ipsen, a sophomore, now is 2-for-2 in NCS competitions after having won last year as a freshman. And a touch of nerves on the last dive worked to his advantage.
"I didn't think I was going to get a 10," Ipsen said. "It was one of my hardest dives. But the nerves kicked in. When you're doing a hard dive, you want to have that extra adrenaline. But you don't want to get too excited when you've got to come back for your next dive."
Which is why Ipsen, as he did Thursday, typically saves that dive for his grand finale.
Ipsen impressed throughout, consistently collecting the highest scores on each of his
"He's just one of those types of individuals in the sport that comes around every two or three decades," De La Salle diving coach Larry Shaw said. "He just has it, like Michael Jordan had it. Like Willie Mays had it. Like Babe Ruth had it. Kristian is just one of those people that has that magic. Diving is just his thing."
Ipsen surely had the "It" factor working in his latest triumph. On the pool deck, he might just be one of the kids. Once on the board, though, he exudes a confidence in everything he does — even before he executes his dive. And once he dives — well, he executes like no other high school diver.
Ipsen has two more years of high school competition remaining, and beyond that, the 2012 London Olympics would not be stretch. At age 16, Ipsen's potential seems limitless.
"He's just phenomenal for his age," Shaw said. "I've been around this sport for 50 years and I haven't seen anybody as good as he is at his age."