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Prep Newsmaker: Duluth East’s Rohrbaugh making waves, not splashes, this season

Duluth East diver Miles Rohrbaugh

When Duluth diver Miles Rohrbaugh popped out of the water at a high school swim meet on Dec. 29 at International Falls, he couldn’t believe his score.

Rohrbaugh thought it was too good to be true, and as it turned out, it was.

“I was super surprised,” Rohrbaugh. “They announced my score 10 points higher than it was. They said I had a 517. I thought, ‘That can’t be right.’ It was actually a 507, but that still sounds too good to be true.”

That is exactly the kind of year that Rohrbaugh is having. The Duluth East junior advanced to the state meet as a freshman and sophomore, but this year he is on another level.

On Saturday, Rohrbaugh took first at the Duluth Invitational, breaking his own 11-dive pool record with a score of 440.95. His top mark for 11 dives is the 507.3 he set at International Falls, while his top mark for six dives is 295.85, set at Lincoln Park Middle School on Dec. 22.

Last year his top marks were 414 and 275, respectively.

“We’re all surprised,” said his father and dive coach, Leon Rohrbaugh.

Leon Rohrbaugh said his son’s progression has had a lot to do with growing into his body. In eighth grade, he weighed 80 pounds. Now, he’s 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds.

“Last year we kept moving him back on the board more and more because he just got bigger and bigger,” the elder Rohrbaugh said.

Leon says his son is still growing, just not at the same rapid pace.

“I’m his dad, too, so I have to buy his clothes,” Leon said, laughing.

Duluth, which combines the East and Denfeld programs during the regular season, is undefeated in dual meets this year and hosts Virginia, Chisholm, Eveleth-Gilbert and Duluth Marshall-Proctor at 5 p.m. today at Ordean East Middle School.

Miles Rohrbaugh is part of talented junior class that includes captains Jack Jarvela (200 individual medley, 100 backstroke) and Frost Bowen-Bailey (butterfly), as well as Nathan Radke (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly). Sophomore Ryan Zelen, who advanced to the state meet in the 100 freestyle, already is bettering his times from last year.

“We have four juniors, and they’re all just great leaders,” Duluth assistant coach Cliff Knettle said. “The younger swimmers look up to all four of them.”

The team does additional morning practices and yoga. The divers are recorded on a 30-second delay so immediately after a dive, they can see for themselves what they need to do better.

“We want to take our program to the next level, so this is what we’re going to do,” Knettle said.

Duluth’s divers are close-knit, and all of them can swim, too. Rohrbaugh is one of the fastest in the breaststroke, while Vincent Napoli-Quisling is the No. 2 diver behind Rohrbaugh.

“A lot of teams don’t have any divers, and we have five of them, so that’s a benefit to our team success,” Knettle said.

Rohrbaugh is coordinated and flexible. He works hard and doesn’t complain. He started honing his talent when his father bought him a trampoline when they moved into their new house seven years ago. Miles still uses it. Other than his trampoline, the only training he did in the offseason was a week-long diving camp at the University of Minnesota.

This season, Rohrbaugh added a forward 1 1/2 somersault with two twists and a back somersault with 3 1/2 twists. The dives have greater difficulty but potential for a better score.

“You can always improve on everything, but he is pretty much at the top of what we can do for where his body is at right now,” Leon said. “Miles plays music and has lots of different interests, but diving is the one thing he found that he really loves.”

If Miles Rohrbaugh wasn’t on the recruiting radar before, he certainly is after placing second among 111 divers at the Maroon and Gold Invite at the University Aquatic Center on Jan. 7 in Minneapolis.

Rohrbaugh’s goal this year is a top-eight finish at the Class AA state meet March 2-4 at the Aquatic Center, the same place he would like to dive one day as a member of the Minnesota Gophers.

Rohrbaugh was asked if he could top the record he set at International Falls.

“Oh, man, that’s a great question,” Rohrbaugh said. “That’s the challenge, but you only get so many opportunities. I’m going to keep working at it, but I’m going to have fun, too. You can never take anything too seriously.”

Prep status: Duluth East junior

Age: 16

Sports: Diving/swimming

GPA: 3.5

School activities: Hound Pack, Students for the Future

Family: Father, Leon; mother, Britt; sister, Maari, 13

Pet: Dogs Maizy and Olive and five chickens

Plans: Attend college and dive, with the goal of making the University of Minnesota swimming and diving team