His gymnastics career ended, Repetti making splash in the pool

July 31, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

When Jon Repetti suffered a shoulder injury that put his competitive gymnastics career in jeopardy, he didn't waste time worrying about it.

He just found a new sport -- diving.

After giving up gymnastics, Repetti found even more success in diving. Last summer, he won the 15-18 championship at the Potomac Valley Summer League All-Star Meet as well as the gold medal in the one-meter springboard event at the Maryland State Games.

This past winter, the Howard County resident won the MSA championship as a junior at Calvert Hall. He went on to take the bronze medal at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships in Philadelphia.

Not bad for a guy who has been diving seriously for less than two years.

"I was just playing around with it my freshman year," said Repetti. "But when I finished second in the MSAs, I figured I had some talent, so I started to pursue it."

That's when Repetti finally decided to retire from gymnastics.

"It was a very hard decision to leave gymnastics, because I sort of formed a family at my gym," said Repetti, 17. "They were like my brothers, and it was hard for me to leave that, but I knew I had to go on. My future for college was in diving."

For nine years, Repetti trained at Gym Plus in Columbia. He had planned to compete in gymnastics in college and beyond if possible. But one afternoon two years ago, that dream came to an end.

"I was doing a trick on the rings and tore ligaments in my shoulder," said Repetti. "The doctor said eventually it was going to pop out of the socket, so I decided to chill a little bit."

The tremendous strain on the shoulders from performing on the rings and high bar made competing in those events impossible. That left Repetti able to compete in only four of the six events required of an all-around gymnast.

He knew he couldn't get very far if he had to sit out the rings and high bar. "I knew that for colleges, they weren't going to look at a specialist as much as an all-around who does all six events, and I really wanted to do a sport in college."

So after finishing second in the MSA championships as a freshman, Repetti decided to train seriously in diving. That work paid off with another second-place finish as a sophomore and the title last year.

This summer, Repetti is training three hours a day five days a week with a new coach, Vince Wroblewski at Towson State.

Of the five required dives, Repetti said his toughest are the reverse and inward dives.

His gymnastics experience helped him adapt to the sport more quickly even to those tougher dives. "It helps you tremendously in air sense, knowing where you are in the air and when to come out."

But Repetti admitted the two sports are not as similar as he first thought. "Gymnastics didn't help me with technique on the board. At first, I was stomping on the board not jumping off the board."

Diving judges, he discovered, are even more picky about technicalities like pointed toes and arm position that give a dive its polish.

"My coach is very picky, and I like that, because he only likes the best. My expectations are to get into college and dive for that college hopefully on a scholarship of some kind," said Repetti, who holds a 3.5 grade-point average.

In the meantime, Repetti hopes to repeat his high school championship although it will be a little different this time. Since the MSA no longer exists, Repetti will go after the first Maryland Independent Athletic Association title. That would put him in the record books.

But then, he's already in the record books as the last MSA diving champion.

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