A matter of record: Wildcats' Thomson a state favorite after shattering school marks

By Bill Althaus
Blue Springs' Josiah Thomson completes a dive during a meet last year. This season Thomson has shattered both the six- and 11-dive school records and heads to Friday's state meet in St. Peters as one of the favorites for a state title.

In this COVID-19-tinged year of 2020, there are few prep athletes who are having more fun – or success – than Blue Springs senior diver Josiah Thomson.

He broke a 16-year-old school diving record to lead the Wildcats swimming and diving team to its first dual win over rival Blue Springs South in 10 years. 

Thomson’s 319.25 points topped the school-record, six-dive score held by David Legler, a teammate of Blue Springs coach Kevin Bigham on the school’s 2004 state championship team.

Legler went on to become an All-Big Ten diver at the University of Indiana.

Thomson then totaled an 11-dive score of 511.15 to beat Joe Hoots’ record from 1987.

And this Friday at St. Peters Rec Plex in St. Peters, Mo., Thomson is one of the favorites to bring home the gold, following a fifth-place finish as a junior.

“The sky’s the limit for Josiah,” Blue Springs swimming coach Kevin Bigham said. (Missy) Jackson (the Blue Springs and Blue Springs South diving coach) has been working with Josiah and our other divers and she does such a remarkable job.

“He started diving as a freshman, and you could tell right away that he was going to be special. Just like Legs (Legler) was, back when we swam together on that 2004 championship team.”

Thomson said he can’t remember how he discovered diving, but it is now paying off.

“I really don’t know how I got interested in diving, but I’m glad I did,” Thomson said. “I jumped around on a trampoline, but never did gymnastics or any of the things you associate with diving, I’ve just been fortunate to work with great coaches and have great teammates.”

The similarities between Thomson and Legler create a sense of déjà vu for Bigham.

“I was thrilled when Josiah got the school record, took it away from my good friend, and I think there will be more big things to come,” Bigham said. “Josiah is facing some extremely tough competition at state, but he’s faced extremely tough competition all season and he loves a challenge. It seems to bring out the best in him.”

This week, Thomson joined other Blue Springs and Blue Springs South divers at the Blue Springs South Aquatic Center, while his Wildcats teammates trained at the Blue Springs High School Centennial Pool-Plex.

“We mostly train on our own, and we can get a lot of work in here at the South Aquatic Center,” Thomson said. “There has been so much doubt and disappointment this season because of COVID, but our team has had a great season and I’ve had the time of my life.”

When asked about this weekend’s state meet, he smiled and said he would like to go in with a relaxed attitude. The diving portion begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.

“I can’t wait,” Thomson said. “I’m not going to go to state and put any extra pressure on myself. Really, I hope to approach state like I did the meet against South when I broke our school record.

“I went into that meet thinking I was just going to have fun. And I had fun, and was relaxed and did great. When I go to state I want to have the same approach. I just want to be happy with my performance and we’ll see what happens.”