East County divers won their fair share of accolades at last year’s San Diego Section finals. It appears an encore performance is in store this spring.
Nine returning CIF qualifiers were in action on the springboard at last Friday’s Grossmont Hills League dual meet between host Granite Hills and Helix.
Defending Division I champion Reece Robles of Granite Hills won the boys competition with a healthy early season score of 273.76 points. He won last year’s division finals with 283.70 points before going on to place 12th at the state championship meet.
Robles looks to command attention on the section stage once again before continuing his dive career at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
He has set his goalshigh for his senior year.
“I want to repeat as CIF champion and place in the top six at state,” said Robles, who easily met the CIF automatic qualifying mark of 190 points.
The Eagle diver hasn’t rested on his laurels as competition, of course, drives performance.
“I’ve made my front dives more difficult — I’ve changed them from tuck to pike,” he said. “I’ve done a backward two-and-one-half and a two-and-one-half gainer. Those have been my biggest accomplishments of the offseason. I guess we’ll see if I can complete them or not.”
Robles is vying to qualify again for the USA Diving Junior National Championships this summer. Medaling at the high school state meet is a good measuring standard. He racked up 434 points for 11 dives at last year’s state finals.
“It was really fun,” he said. “I got to see some people I competed against at the Junior Olympics. It was fun to meet up with them again. The guy who won (Villa Park’s Andrew Harness) is going to the University of Texas for diving. That’s a really prestigious diving school.”
Granite Hills’ returning CIF qualifiers are highlighted on the girls side by seniors Alyssa Black and Audrey Laskey.
Laskey won last Friday’s girls dive card with 186.68 points while Black (10th at last year’s CIF finals) finished third with 181.425 points.
Senior Kate Matushek was fifth with 165.22 points to round out Granite Hills’ three varsity entrants.
Granite Hills dive coach Ron Ortiz said the team has been greeted by a large turnout this spring.
“We started with 27 kids,” Ortiz said. “I didn’t want to cut anybody. It’s looking good.”
Among the impact newcomers are freshmen Vaughan Clark, Kelly Henderson and Courtney Kelly.
Clark placed fifth among the boys varsity entrants with 161.925 points while Henderson won the girls junior varsity division with 87.225 points.
Last Friday’s meet featured 23 divers — 12 at the varsity level.
Helix coach Kimber Aubin is excited about the potential for her group, which includes six returning CIF qualifiers.
“I expect all to qualify again, hopefully with two to three more to round out this season,” she said. “The divers are building on their existing skills at this point of the season. They are building on their foundation right now.”
The Highlanders paraded out 12 divers at last Friday’s meet, including six in the varsity division.
Junior Avery Baker finished second with 186.45 points on the boys side. Sophomore teammate John Funk finished third with 178.125 points while junior Stone Eastman was fourth with 166.00 points.
On the girls side, Helix senior Hattie Jenkins finished second with 182.11 points while senior Izzy Taylor was fourth with 165.75 points. Junior Aubrie Uhrich placed sixth with 150.06 points.
Aubin said other contenders to qualify for CIF this season include Erik Freshley and David Ngo. Freshley scored 127.05 points while diving an exhibition card at last Friday’s meet.
Valhalla High School will host a pair of diving invitationals at Helix High School on April 4 and May 2.
Christian High School freshman Holly Allen won the six-dive card at Saturday’s Fallbrook Invitational with 181.40 points.