There is a distinct and likely unintended parallel between swimming and baseball: Everyone loves the starter and closer, but few give much credence to the middle reliever.
As Gabe Currens heads off to the Division I state swimming and diving meet Saturday, there may not have been a better middle reliever for the Wadsworth boys swimming team the last four years.
A diver for the Grizzlies, the senior came into duals in the fifth event and almost always walked off with much-needed points.
“He’s a stronghold,” Wadsworth coach Allison Pallija said. “I know Gabe is always going to perform to the best of his ability and he’s always going to support the others. With the new divers, he’s been a mentor to them. They really looked up to him and asked a lot of questions.”
There was quite a bit to look up to this season, as Currens won eight of the nine duals the Grizzlies competed in.
What’s more, the three-time state qualifier won the Christmas Invitational, Suburban League Meet and Lakewood Sectional to prove he’s more than just a dual meet phenom.
“I think his mental game has been a lot more on point this year,” Pallija said. “He’s got a lot more experience with going to state last year. Not only to the Christmas Invitational and Northeast Classic, but going there and giving a good fight and competing.
“He’s got a little more experience in those aspects under his belt to help him with his mental game and mental toughness of diving. He’s ready for every dive mentally.”
When 9 a.m. Saturday rolls around, Currens’ mental makeup should be on point. He competed at the meet as a sophomore and junior, logging 18th- and 17th-place finishes.
“It’s been a phenomenal season,” Currens said. “I didn’t expect to do that well, especially with the records. It’s amazing because freshman year, I was looking up to the people who were really good and never thinking I would be there. Now that I am, it’s awesome.
“It’s really a confidence booster knowing my team knows I can do it. I’m a lot more confident this year and am ready to do my best and hopefully get top eight.”
Whether or not he finishes top eight, Currens will go out as the gold standard for next season. A stalwart on the team the last four years, he holds the six-dive (289.50) and 11-dive records (491.75) at Wadsworth.
With a sectional win and Northwest District runner-up showing, Pallija sees the fight in her star pupil to push the envelope even more.
“He’s got more experience in that sense of not showing up and just competing,” Pallija said. “It’s knowing that other people are looking at you now, too, in that sense of they know who Gabe Currens is. We’re excited to see what Gabe does at state this year and hope he’s happy with whatever place he finishes.”
Currens may join a club team when he gets to college, so Saturday likely will be his last competitive diving. That has given the standout even more motivation to give it everything he has in his swan song for the Grizzlies.
“It’s the last hurrah and my last chance to make my mark on Wadsworth diving,” Currens said.