Against all odds, UW-Green Bay diver lands on top of podium
By Mara Allen
UW-Green Bay Intern
GREEN BAY – It’s not about where you start; it’s where you finish that matters.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) diver Miles Rohrbaugh proved these words to be true at the Horizon League Swim and Dive Championships a few weeks ago.
On February 17, Rohrbaugh was crowned the Horizon League 1-meter platform champion after mounting an impressive comeback at the championship meet.
His journey to the top of the podium was nothing short of incredible.
Rohrbaugh took up diving much later than most of his fellow competitors.
Though he began swimming at a young age, he didn’t start diving until eighth grade when he joined his high school’s dive team.
He said he decided to give it a try because doing flips on his childhood trampoline came naturally to him.
Rohrbaugh said he caught on to diving extremely fast.
In his time at Duluth East High School, he qualified for the Minnesota state competition four consecutive years, winning three straight section 7AA championships in the process.
Rohrbaugh said diving is “a relatively unheard-of sport” in northern Minnesota.
As a result, he was only able to train during the three to four months he dived during the school year because he didn’t have access to year-round diving clubs.
“It was fun being able to refresh the diving scene in my area,” Rohrbaugh said.
His hard work and achievements didn’t go unnoticed.
Rohrbaugh’s success allowed him to dive collegiately at the Division I level.
He said he chose to attend UWGB because it’s a comfortable distance from home – roughly five hours away from Duluth – and the Division I program gave him the ability to compete and hone his craft at a high level.
After what Rohrbaugh called a “frustrating” junior season that included meet postponements, exhaustive testing and training for long periods with no meets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rohrbaugh said he entered his senior year of diving with high hopes.
His final season culminated in February at the Horizon League Championships, with a great deal of dramatics.
Rohrbaugh was eighth at the end of the 1-meter preliminary rounds – only the top eight divers qualified for the final round.
Though he barely snuck into the finals, Rohrbaugh never flinched.
“Going into (the) finals, after a less-than-optimal prelim, there was one dive I struggled on that lost me a lot of points in the first round I needed to hit if I wanted to improve, as well as generally tightening up all my other dives,” Rohrbaugh said. “I needed to focus on that dive, specifically. I knew if I could do that dive well, the rest would fall into place.”
And it did.
Rohrbaugh performed some of the best dives of his career in the finals, scoring 319.15 points.
His six-dive score was the fourth-best in UWGB history for the 1-meter platform event.
After his sixth and final dive, Rohrbaugh held the top spot.
However, he had to wait to learn his fate.
University of Illinois-Chicago diver Felix Lafortune, the multi-year reigning conference champion, still had one dive left to perform – the final dive of the meet.
“Felix needed a little (more than) 55 points on his sixth dive to take the top spot from me,” Rohrbaugh said. “He got exactly 55 points, causing him to land 0.1 points behind me.”
Thus, by the smallest of margins, Rohrbaugh was crowned Horizon League champion.
“There was some crying, to be sure,” Rohrbaugh said. “It was an incredible moment when the whole team bum-rushed me into a giant group hug … winning conference was a special experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
As his collegiate career wraps up, Rohrbaugh said he’s feeling particularly grateful for those who helped him get to where he is today, especially his coach, Tom Staver.
“This sport has given me so many connections, and I’ve made so many friends from it,” he said. “I want to thank anyone and everyone who has had a part in this weird, wild ride of mine.”
Rohrbaugh said he will forever cherish all the connections and friendships he made during his time competing at UWGB.