A state finalist diver at Lake Shore, Travis Wright will head to Penn State in the fall to continue competing. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
It was not too long ago when Lake Shore diver Travis Wright made his first appearance at the state championships.
“He went to states as a freshman, but didn’t make the first cut,” said Chris Ignatowski, Lake Shore’s swimming and diving coach. “He was really nervous and everything. But he progressed and ended up getting better and better.”
Wright progressed so much during his time at Lake Shore that he evolved into the best diver in Western New York, eventually giving himself the opportunity to continue diving at the Division I level.
Upon graduating from high school with the class of 2014, Wright will head to Penn State in the fall to continue his diving career.
“He was looking there and looking local,” said Ignatowski. “I think when he went down there he fell in love with the place and the coaches.”
He has come a long way from his first visit to states in ninth grade, eventually going back this past winter to place fourth at Webster-Schroeder.
“And in culmination with his senior year he had his best finish, placing fourth at states this year,” Ignatowski noted. “He was ranked fifth in the state coming into the state meet, so that’s a nice achievement for him.”
There throughout his entire career at Lake Shore was fellow diver Lee Gaskin. Each honed skills from other sports before deciding to dive in middle school, which eventually helped shape their career on Lake Shore’s boards.
“I don’t think [Gaskin] gets enough recognition, either. They came up together,” Ignatowski said. “What happened was that Travis was the gymnast and Gaskin was the BMX racer. Of course, Travis was more polished, but neither of them were afraid of anything.”
Wright and Gaskin created quite the duo at local meets, taking the top two spots in every competition for the second half of their diving careers.
Gaskin placed ninth at states.
“Travis wanted to get everything perfect and they complimented each other very well,” Ignatowski said. “They gave us a nice one-two punch for a few years now.
“They have probably took first and second place in every meet since they were sophomores.”
Ignatowski credits Wright’s progression to the young diver’s ambition and curiosity. When Wright is not practicing with Wings, he’s asking his Lake Shore coach questions about diving and what he can do to get better.
“Even in his senior year before he went to states he was still trying to learn new stuff,” said Ignatowski.
His first visit to the state meet did not go as planned. However, Wright learned and improved to become the competitor he is today.
“Once we got there, we wanted him to have all his pretty dives in the beginning so he’d have enough points to move on,” Ignatowski said. “But then he didn’t hit a couple of them right away and he was playing catch up on his next three or four dives and it wasn’t enough to make the cut.
“But then he learned from that and then he started making the cut. Then he learned from that and ended up fourth in the state this year.”
It was during Wright’s junior year when he broke pool marks in the area once he tightened his twist and began nailing dives with higher degrees of difficulty. His point totals soared into the top two in the section.
And now, Wright will take his legacy to Penn State for the next four years.
“I have been at Lake Shore for 17 years and I’ve never seen a diver like him,” Ignatowski said.