Rams to Watch: Callie Borda and Conner Pace

Matthew DiFonzo and Daniel Pujo

Callie Borda, Dive 

As the winter sports season unfolds and many multi-sport athletes transition from last season, few can boast entering a season in which they are not only a member of the varsity team but also a USA regional champion.  

Specializing in the one meter, three meter and platform events, freshman standout Callie Borda is a four time USA Diving National Qualifier, a one time USA diving Regional Champion, three time Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national qualifier and three time CCSDA Champion. In addition, Borda and her synchro partner are currently ranked fourth in the nation for USA Diving 13 and under girls.

Borda dives year round as a member of the Montgomery Dive Club, the RHS team and in the summer, Manor Country Club team, where she holds four of the five diving records. Such dedication comes with extensive practice times. Borda typically trains five days a week, for three hours each day, she said.

“Since I train so much during the week, I don’t need to come to the RHS swim and dive practices, but I love going. It’s so much fun. I love this team so much and I want to get to be good friends with them. So if they are going to 5 a.m. practices, so am I,” Borda said.

During the fall sports season, Borda played defense for the girls varsity soccer team and was one of eight freshmen to make the varsity team and contributed to the team’s successes through her moderate playing time.

After the team’s season ended in a second round playoff loss, Borda switched her focus to diving. Borda said she looks to lead the RHS dive team to a winning season this year, and possibly secure an individual state championship title.

Borda began diving at the age of six and took weekly dive lessons until the age of nine. Throughout her career, she has had opportunity to train at the University of Cincinnati and spend time training in both Scotland and England with the Edinburgh training team, the Ohio State Diving Club, as well as a few Olympic divers. Looking ahead, Borda said she plans on diving at the collegiate level, with her sights set on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

As a freshman her current focus on improving on the dive team and drawing on her experience to help improve the diving community and her teammates.

“I’m also enjoying the opportunity to help some of my team members with specific dives, which is probably helping me as much as it’s helping them,” she said.

Sophomore teammate Spencer Finnegan is in his second season on the RHS swim and dive team, and his first year with Borda. He appreciates the dive experience that she brings to the team.

“Callie is a really good teammate and brings a lot of spirit to the dive team. She helps us out with new dives because she is able to teach us,” Finnegan said. “She brings a lot of experience to the dive team which will definitely help us this season and is a role model as she is always in a good mood and is always trying to help people.”

Borda is constantly working hard in practice and competitions to improve her overall skills. As a freshman, she is competing against much older participants throughout the county. However, the competition throughout the county seems to motivate her to work even harder.

“There are a lot of really good high school divers out there, and I dive with most of them on my club team. But, my goal this year, as freshman, is to finish top five at Metros, and top three at states,” Borda said. “However, I’m mainly looking forward to an awesome four years with some great teammates. I’m already having so much fun and I love the swim and dive team at RHS.”


Conner Pace, Wrestling 

While most underclassmen are happy to earn a spot on junior varsity (JV) sports teams, sophomore Conner Pace continues to set himself apart as he competes on varsity wrestling for his second year where he develops his leadership skills while spending time with his older peers.

Pace started wrestling in the winter of his freshman year after his football coach, Will Morris, who was also the varsity wrestling coach, encouraged him to try out for wrestling once the football season had ended. Pace quickly earned a spot on the varsity team.

With 24 wins, 19 of which were pins, Pace soon came to love wrestling.

“I really enjoy wrestling because there is no better feeling then getting your hand raised at the end of a match, and it is the best way to stay in shape,” Pace said.

During this year’s winter wrestling season, Pace will continue to practice the leadership he brought to the team as a freshman. Pace’s work ethic has contributed to his success as a budding leader.

“We really lacked some leadership last year as we lost a lot of seniors, and somebody had to step up and do it, which Conner made himself accountable to do,” Morris said.

Wrestling practices consist of running, stretching and drill moves.

“To prepare, I made sure I was sweating a lot and lifting weights to get my body in shape for wrestling,” Pace said.

Pace also started at linebacker (LB) on the varsity football team which transitioned from a 0-10 2017 football season, to finishing 4-6 during the 2018 season. Pace was a key contributor to the team’s success and was named a 3A/2A All-County Honorable Mention LB.

“Conner always would get tackles, he never would let go of his man, and he sprinted and went hard every play. That’s what I think separates him from the rest of his grade,” senior offensive/defensive lineman Jaylon Harry said.

Pace’s presence on the varsity wrestling team has been the result of his continuous work, whether it be at wrestling or football.  He trains hard to get his weight up and stay in shape. At football workouts he had the 13th best Big Horn total out of the whole program which is the bench press, squat and deadlift added together.

That strength translates to wrestling season, as Pace is in the 195 lb weight class and will have to face strong opponents.

“Conner works extremely hard in practice, he qualified for regionals last year. I think he could do it again and possibly states if he keeps working hard,” Morris said. “The other guys take notice of this and it gets the rest of the team to work harder.”

Teammates feel the energy that Pace brings during practice and competitions. When he is pushing himself and performing at his best, the team knows they need to follow his example.

“Conner is someone who you are almost scared of. He looks like he could pass out because he is going so hard sometimes, but that just shows the rest of the team, we need to step it up and do the same,” sophomore Gahl Shem-Tov said.

As it is early in the season, Pace said he looks forward to the team working toward a dominating record, helping his teammates grow and potentially winning a state title.