Evan Yamane is the first diver from Kingston to reach the state meet via qualification

BREMERTON — Kingston junior Evan Yamane didn’t set out to make records in high school diving. Yamane’s talent is doing that for him.

Yamane became the first Buccaneers diver to qualify for the state 2A swimming and diving championships at the Olympic League meet with 265 points. No allocations or wild cards were needed for Yamane, who has been diving for a little more than a year.

Yamane will compete for a podium finish at the West Central District meet, Friday-Saturday, at Hazen High School and then turn his attention to the big pool at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Feb. 21-22. 

It’s a bit like winning the lottery for Yamane to not have to qualify for state through district. With his ticket already punched, he can relax and focus on his dives and the process it takes to get there.

Kingston junior Evan Yamane looks at video of himself shot by coach Mark Van Huis during a diving practice at Olympic Aquatic Center last week in Bremerton. Yamane is the first Kingston diver to directly qualify for the state 2A swimming and diving championships. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

Yamane was relieved to qualify at the league meet.

“The difficulty of my dives ended up making it so I could qualify on points,” he said. “The dives themselves weren’t my best.”

That left him wondering if he had qualified until Kingston coach Mark Van Huis pulled him aside and showed him his score. 

“It was shocking, but I mean I’m not mad. I’ll take it,” he said. “I’m not going to argue.”

Van Huis said a 300-point score for Yamane is reachable.

“We’ve got to figure out his place on that stage and he deserves to be there,” he said. “He’s a fierce competitor. He wants to do well.”

Yamane did go to the state meet last year, but he went through allocation and ended up last.

“Dead last place,” he said. “I do feel I have improved a lot.” 

The Buccaneers dive program started three years ago with swim coach Mark Van Huis doing his best to learn more about the sport and teaching his pupils. Van Huis and his few divers would make the drive to Port Angeles, Shelton or Renton to find a board and practice time. 

This year Van Huis was able to work with the Olympic Aquatic Center for pool time and that has made a world of difference.

“Now we’re solely here two nights a week, we get an hour and a half and we’re getting more stable. And I’m driving a lot less.”

Van Huis said his divers, Yamane and McLean Bowers have come a long way in their limited practices. Van Huis himself is still trying to learn diving having spent most of the 35 years in aquatics with swimmers.

“When Evan gets on the board at state he’s going to be diving against people that dive eight to 10 hours a week,” Van Huis said. “The fact he’s going to be at that meet qualified, I’m so darn proud of him because he’s not afraid to try new things.”

Yamane is so naturally gifted in the air, Van Huis said he had to add a pike to his rotation for his dives because he was spinning so fast Yamane, who competed in gymnastics for years, needed the extra difficulty to slow down to complete his dive.

“He has great body awareness,” Van Huis said. “He knows where his body is. The first time I told him to do a forward double, he actually landed legally. He knew where to exactly come out of a forward double. But he was doing a tuck so he was over-spinning every time.”

That’s when they decided to add the pike, which adds to the degree of difficulty (DD). The higher the DD, the higher the diver can score. 

“I think if he really wanted to he could try a forward triple tuck,” Van Huis said. “He spins that fast.”

Yamane, whose personal best score is 285, knows his biggest stumbling block is his nerves and needs to learn to keep those at bay when all eyes are on him.

“I’ll be diving in practice and everything is fine,” he said. “I’m going to have to get used to it. One thing that does help is when my team is behind me. That’s a big one. Even last year, the pressure still got to me, but coming out of the water and hearing everyone cheering for you it makes a big difference.”

Kingston junior Evan Yamane takes a deep breath during a diving practice at Olympic Aquatic Center last week in Bremerton. Yamane is the first Kingston diver to directly qualify for the state 2A swimming and diving championships.
(Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

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