By Mike Philips
Practice makes perfect. For four years and endless hours of work, Smith-Cotton senior diver Derrick Kerbo sets his sights on the one award that has evaded him in his high school career.
“They’ve (the Missouri State High School Activities Association) have added a new dive this year, an inward two-and-a-half (somersaults),” said Kerbo. “If I can get that down before we go to state, then hopefully I can win the state championship.”
Kerbo has already qualified several times this season for next month’s MSHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships at the St. Peters Rec Plex.
This will be his fourth straight trip to the state meet, finishing 23rd as a freshman, 10th as a sophomore and third last year.
Ranked #1 in the Show Me State by directathletics.com, there is not much Kerbo hasn’t accomplished in his four years at S-C. He has qualified for state four times, is a four-time West Central Conference diving champion, has won the diving event four times at the S-C Invitational, won the Raytown Invitational diving championship at least twice, placed second in the Columbia Invitational, has won the ILC diving competition his first three years and has won the diving in practically every dual meet the Tigers have competed in the last four years. He also holds the S-C record for both a six-dive and 11-dive events.
“I used to go to the public pools when I was younger and I messed around with diving,” said the 18-year old native of Sedalia. “Then my freshman year in high school, one of Coach (Jerry) Tankersley’s swimmers Ian Sherman asked me to come try out for the (Tiger) team.
“I think it was at that point, that I thought I needed to start taking diving seriously,” he said.
It’s amazing how his muscular legs allow him to get high off the board and turn for a perfect head first entry into the water with barely a ripple of water at the point of entry.
“It takes practice,” said the humble Kerbo with a sheepish grin.
Kerbo has accomplished so much in his high school career without any professional training.
“I went to a diving camp at Drury (in Springfield) last month,” he said. “And if I mess up on a dive, I ask Tank (Tankersley) to help me. I work on it until I get it straightened out.”
Kerbo said he has received numerous recruiting letters from schools across the country, but said he would probably choose the junior college route, adding there are a number of junior colleges in Illinois and Florida with strong swimming programs. Photo by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.