They practice together, providing friendly natural competition for each other nearly every day.
But in swimming and diving meets, such as the Missouri state meet Saturday morning, that competition between divers Mariah Hagerty and Allie Steinhauser goes separate directions.
Hagerty is a senior at Blue Springs High School, while Steinhauser is a junior at Blue Springs South. They practice at the Blue Springs YMCA, a stone's throw away from South under the tutelage of Missy Jackson, who has coached divers from both schools for several years.
Hagerty and Steinhauser both are threats to give their teams a chunk of points Saturday at the state meet, where they placed 10th and ninth last year, respectively. Last year they also where joined at state by Bre Schlenger (South), who placed fifth, and Blue Springs’ Cali Bissell (15th) and Allie Mata, all of whom graduated.
“It pushes each other to dive better every meet,” Steinhauser said of the shared-practice arrangement, “and to learn more dives and challenge each other.”
Hagerty, who is the daughter of Blue Springs wrestling coach Mike Hagerty, admits that she doesn’t see her own teammates much, but she gets along well with the South swimmers and certainly doesn’t mind the arrangement.
“I like it because it is competition in that we’re both very talented,” said Hagerty, who is a four-time state qualifier. “It pushes us to perfect our dives. It’s fun friendship-wise.”
Both girls say they got into diving after watching older sisters compete. Like some divers, Steinhauser also had some gymnastics experience, which helps because “you kind of know where your body is when you're flipping,” she said.
Mariah’s sister Nikki also was a four-time state qualifier.
“It’s exciting to match that,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about that when started diving. Most come in from gymnastics with that experience, and I wasn’t.”
Jackson said she enjoys coaching both girls because they’re goal-oriented and have a strong work ethic.
“This year’s been really nice because they’ve both won meets,” Jackson said. “They’ve been going back and forth, and it just makes the other hungrier for the next time.”
The two divers have different styles, she added.
“Allie is very good at voluntaries, the more graceful and pretty jumps,” Jackson said. “Mariah excels at the optionals, where you have to have a lot of power and quickness.”
However, when asked separately about a favorite dive they’ve added to their repertoire, both Hagerty and Steinhauser replied with the inward 1 1/2 pike, where the athlete starts facing toward the board and does 1 1/2 somersaults with straight knees and the body bent at the waist.
“It’s difficult, but it’s fun and exciting when I hit it, and it’s consistent,” Hagerty said.
Steinhauser said reverses are her go-to dives, but she’ll use the same list of dives from when she won the Suburban Big Six conference meet two weeks ago, just in a different order.
Hagerty, who missed the conference meet because of a cheerleading event, likewise isn’t planning anything different for state.
“Just relying on my entries and difficulties,” she said. “Hopefully it will be my best year.”