Gleason heads to state

By Sara Miller

Kitsap News Group

Jason Gleason describes himself as an “open book.” It makes sense, seeing that he’s a four-time league champion high-school diver who has to walk around in speedos regularly.

But he also has a strange pre-meet ritual he likes to share, perhaps in a “too much information” moment: He always goes “number two” before diving.

“It’s an actual thing. I have to when I get to the pool,” he said.

Competing in the West Central District diving tournament Feb. 2, Gleason earned first place with a score of 422.35 (63 points ahead of the competition). He will compete in the state tournament Feb. 17-18 at the King County Aquatic Center (KCAC) in Federal Way.

“I didn’t think I was doing good, but it turned out to be my best meet,” Gleason said of the SPSL championships. “I was surprised by the outcome, but I had my mom and dad and friends there cheering me on.

“They come to every meet and really help out a lot.”

Gleason began diving for South Kitsap when he was a freshman, but this is his first year diving year-round. His sport is all-consuming: He even travels to Federal Way five times a week to dive at KCAC.

He followed in his brothers’ footsteps — they both dived at South Kitsap before him. His oldest brother Justin was the first South Kitsap diver to go to state in 2008 until the youngest of the Gleason clan entered the halls of South Kitsap.

He also had a friend living with him who formerly held the school record. Former state champion and friend Joe Rose lived with the Gleason family when he won the 4A state title. Gleason broke his school record this year.

“I’ve never been district champ, but the whole season I felt good,” he said. “This year, I focused more on diving and less on everything else.”

During a meet, competitors perform 11 different dives, two in each of the five categories, plus a third in a category of their choice. Gleason said reverse dives and twisters are his favorite.

“When you’re twisting, you’re in your own world,” he said. “You’re always close to the board and it’s a huge adrenaline rush.”

When he isn’t diving, Gleason likes to box, although he admits year-round diving prioritizes his life.

He’s looking to continue diving in college after graduating in May. He’s talked with coaches at schools like Eastern Michigan, which is known for their diving equipment.

“I have to take the ACT and stuff, but I’m working hard to get there,” he said.

But even before then, Gleason will need shoulder surgery in the spring to fix an injured rotator cuff.

“Year-round diving has its effects,” he said.

Because of his extra training, Gleason has felt more confident and relaxed during his final year of diving for the Wolves.

“When you dive, you feel like you’re flying,” Gleason said. “Sometimes you hit the water wrong, and it hurts. But you get up and do it again.”

He said during each meet, he doesn’t think about the outcome, but takes it one dive at a time.

“When you first get started, it takes a bit to get consistent as a whole,” he said. “But one day, everything will click, and then you’ll be learning new dives, one after another.”

Gleason will compete in the 4A state diving tournament to make his claim as being the best diver ever to come out of South Kitsap. He’ll get to the pool, go number two, see his friends and family supporting him in the stands and then take the leap to once again feel like he’s flying.

“People should give it a try,” he said. “Don’t let others tell you what to do. A lot told me it’s not a real sport when I wanted to try it — but look where I am.”

Gleason heads to state