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Okemos High School Senior Diver Hunter Hollenbeck Dominates Life In And Out Of The Pool

Hunter Hollenbeck
Hunter Hollenbeck

Hollenbeck, a two-time Michigan state title-winning diver, looks to be multi-faceted and give back.

OKEMOS, Mich. - Whether it is diving, scoring a 36 on the ACT, or baking, Okemos senior Hunter Hollenbeck's life is filled with excitement every second.


He is one of the best divers in the state, winning his second straight Division 2 championship last weekend. He was dominant this season, putting up scoring records. He broke a 38-year-old pool record at Battle Creek Lakeview in the MHSAA Regional, with a 548.40 score.


Diving is an important facet of his life, but only one of many things he is pursuing.


An average day for Hollenbeck starts at 6:30 a.m., as he gets up, checks his e-mail, takes a shower and prepares for school at Okemos High. Depending on the workload of homework, he will dedicate free time to helping others.


Hollenbeck likes to work with the computer coding club students at Central Elementary School. He also contributes to helping Michigan State professors in pediatric research. This summer, he worked alongside Dr. Mark Kadrofske, an assistant professor at Michigan State. They focused on necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease affecting the small intestine of premature infants. Around 5 p.m., Hollenbeck is usually done volunteering and heads home to work on his classwork and cook some dinner. Next up after dinner: diving practice until around 9:30 p.m.


“Then I go home and get ready for bed. In a perfect world, I would be asleep by 10, but it usually gets delayed one way or another,” said Hollenbeck.


To be able to manage a schedule like Hollenbeck's, it takes planning and prioritizing. He likes to plan out his whole week, day-by-day.


“If I know that I'll have a meet on the weekend or a chance to volunteer sometime after school, I'll make sure to do all of the school work I can beforehand so I'm not crammed on days that I'm actually busy,” said Hollenbeck. “I try my best to always stay focused on my work. On some days it's a lot to handle, but I know it'll all be worth it in the end.”


Hollenbeck loves science and math and isn’t sure yet what he wants to study in college. He has many options, with a 4.0 GPA, a 36 on his ACT, and 1540 on his SAT. His interest in studies ranges from market analysis to pure mathematics, aero- and astroengineering, computer science, physics, and biochemistry. Graduate school is definitely a big possibility as well.


“At the very least, I want to do something that will let me change the world,” said Hollenbeck.


This motivation stems from surrounding himself with positive and inspiring people.


“Honestly, I'd have to say that a lot of people inspire me to be the person that I am today. In school, I get inspired by all of my friends and colleagues that do amazing work and get amazing scores on tests, so I have a competitive reason to keep going in school and when I do research,” said Hollenbeck.


Hollenbeck said his Okemos teammates and classmates are like family and push him to be better.


“I'm an only child, and as a result, I try my best to actively support all of my close friends and treat everyone as if they were my sibling. It definitely gets lonely at times, but I have such amazing friends that I don't ever truly feel alone,” said Hollenbeck.


His ability to be a good student and hard worker have carried over to his success in diving.


Mike Wagner, a former MSU diver, has coached Hollenbeck for three years. He believes that Hollenbeck is not only a good student but a student of the sport of diving.

“Hunter is really an intelligent young man. He will watch Youtube videos of elite divers and imitate them throughout practices. He is the hardest working diver that I have ever came across,” Wagner said. “He has made me into a better coach and I could not thank him enough.”


For most divers, a lucky item is a chamois or known as a shammy. This item is a necessity for divers, as it helps them dry off in between dives. Each chamois is customized by the diver’s interest.


“Right now, my chamois has pink cacti on it, which fits because I like cacti and I like the color pink. In addition, I kiss my chamois before every dive for good luck,” said Hollenbeck. “Another good luck token for me are my Crocs. It's just such a fashion statement that you got to have them in the pool at all times.”


Hollenbeck’s diving talent is giving him opportunities to compete nationally and help him think about his future.

He finished 14th at the senior level in Nationals last year. If he can finish in the top 12 this year at Nationals, he will be invited to the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials for the Tokyo Summer Games.


Hollenbeck is definitely busy. And definitely driven. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t also find time to have fun.


One of his favorite things to do is bake.


“I adore baking – almost every week I'll bake a new treat for my lunch group. It's just so much fun because I get to experiment with many different recipes to make the perfect cookie, scone, loaf, what have you! It's one of my creative outlets that I just love to do when I'm not too busy,” said Hollenbeck.


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