American Flyer to Ohio State Diver

By Erin Cummings

Lyle Yost’s relationship with diving head coach Justin Sochor started long before becoming a Buckeye. Sochor has been the head coach at Ohio State since 2013 and has an impressive background in developing the sport. In 1996, he founded and built his first diving club and developed it into one of the largest diving clubs in the Midwest. American Flyers Diving is a Cleveland based club that brings in nearly 100 new divers to the sport each year. Not only did Sochor form the club, he helped spark the career of Yost, now an Ohio State freshman.

“When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I got really into parkour and free running, like the beginning scene of Casino Royale,” Yost said. “My response was to go in the backyard and try to run up the garage or learn how to do a backflip, so my mom decided to put me over water so I wouldn’t break my neck. I was looking for clubs in the area and American Flyers was the first one we went to and I ended up staying there for a decade.”

At age 14, Yost competed well enough at the Junior National Diving Championships to earn a spot in the 2015 Junior Pan American Games in Cuba, marking his debut in international diving. He made his way back to the Junior Pan American Games in 2017 where he won the bronze medal on the 1-meter springboard and in 3-meter synchronized diving. Through his training with American Flyers Diving, Yost continued to succeed with Team USA and earned two first-place finishes at the USA Diving Junior National Championships in 2018.

“Lyle was showing that he had a whole bunch of talent at these junior competitions,” Sochor said. “He had skill, strength, flexibility and speed.”

"He had skill, strength, flexibility and speed."

What Yost also had was a willingness to serve others.

“Lyle also donated his hair for cancer research and he did events where he would make and donate baked goods for people in need,” said Sochor. “His whole family was like that and that’s what really caught my attention. His personality was golden and I was so confident that what’s inside of him is just as good as what’s on the outside of him.”

Yost, a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, was originally hesitant about competing for an in-state school. However, his relationship with Sochor and the environment that Ohio State had to offer was undeniable.

“My relationship with Justin was really important in my choice to come dive for Ohio State,” Yost said. “The relationship I had with him and the atmosphere he creates really meshes well with the way that I’ve learned to dive and what works well with me. It really made for a smooth transition from club into collegiate diving.”

And the feeling was mutual for Sochor.

“Lyle brings another amazing person to Ohio State diving, because the rest of this team is just like him,” Sochor said. “These divers are all awesome people who come from wonderful families, and they have a lot of skills and talent. They eat, breathe and sleep for diving and Lyle is part of that group.”

Yost has been a consistent point contributor for the Buckeyes as a freshman. In his collegiate debut against Texas A&M, Yost posted a score of 377.33 for first place on the 1-meter springboard. He went on to place first on the 3-meter springboard against Kenyon with a score of 395.60 which is a season-best score for Yost. Overall, Yost has posted five first-place finishes this season, including two against Kentucky, which earned him his first Big Ten Diver of the Week honor.

“All of these guys here are really passionate about the sport and that’s something that will rub off on you and it makes it exciting to come to practice every day,” Yost said. “It’s hard work but being in this environment makes you really want to be here, makes you want to put the work in, makes you want to get better because everyone else does, and it’s such a positive atmosphere. It’s really one of the best environments I’ve ever been in.”

Now for Yost and Sochor, the focus is postseason competition but also competition on the world stage.

“Now we’re looking at Olympics,” Sochor said. “The goals aren’t just learning bigger dives or trying to get to college, now it’s how are we going to start focusing on this year’s Olympic trials and the following Olympic Games. Lyle has all the ability to do that.”

The birth of Sochor’s coaching career was American Flyers, and the birth of Yost’s diving career was American Flyers. And now, the sky is truly the limit for this American Flyer.

Yost and the Ohio State men’s divers are set to compete at Big Ten Championships Feb. 26 while NCAA Zone Diving Championships will begin March 14.

"now it’s how are we going to start focusing on this year’s Olympic trials and the following Olympic Games..."