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Diving: Hendricks, Bucklin qualify for state Friday

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By Mike Cote

The more lead time, the better.

A pair of Los Alamos Hilltopper divers qualified for the state championship meet in their first solo competition of the season Friday. Lisa Ann Hendricks and Lauren Bucklin both picked up qualifying scores at the Los Alamos Diving Open, held at the Larry R.

Walkup Aquatic Center.

Hendricks finished with a final score of 179.70, placing her fourth among the finalists Friday, while Bucklin finished right behind her in fifth place. Bucklin collected a total score of 154.55.

Hilltopper diving coach Keith Greene said he was impressed not only with his two qualifiers but with his team as a whole.

Los Alamos has 15 divers this season. In the 2007-08 season, there were three.

“They’re well ahead of schedule,” Greene said. “They get the nerves out in this meet and they did really well. I’m excited for them.”

By getting their state qualifying out of the way early, Hendricks, a senior, and Bucklin, a junior, can focus their energies on improvement.

Both Hendricks and Bucklin came up with big scores toward the end of the six-dive competition.

Bucklin scored a pair of 5s and a 5-1/2 with her forward somersault twist, her next-to-last dive, while Hendricks got 5-1/2s all around with her backward 1-1/2 somersault twist on her finale.

Hendricks, Los Alamos’ top returning diver from last season’s state meet – she finished ninth overall – said her only goal heading into Friday was to get her qualifying score.

“I thought it went well,” Hendricks said. “I wanted to make sure all my starts were good.”

Hendricks also scored big with her fifth dive, a forward somersault twist, in which she grabbed a 6-1/2, 5-1/2 and 6.

After Los Alamos’ top two, Kelsey Neal had an impressive start in the first competition of her career. Neal hit a 6-1/2 and a pair of 6s with her back dive.

Emily TenCate, Los Alamos’ third finisher Friday, also has aspirations to get to state and Greene said she is right on the cusp after her performance which netted her a 135.60.

The winner of Friday’s competition was Rio Rancho’s Hope Hoover, who earned a 214.05 to top Laura Lee Thomas of St. Michael’s.

Greene said that while his divers have a chance to do some good things this season, watching divers like Hoover and Thomas gives them an idea of what lies ahead.

“That’s their competition,” he said. “The have to stick their dives in meets. They have to start diving in the meets like they’ve been diving in practice.”

Here are the results from Friday’s Los Alamos Open diving competition. Athletes are from Los Alamos unless otherwise indicated.

Girls

1. Hope Hoover, Rio Rancho, 214.05; 2. Laura Lee Thomas, St. Michael’s, 205.80; 3. Shannon Gonzalez, Rio Rancho, 184.00; 4. Lisa Ann Hendricks, 179.70; 5. Lauren Bucklin, 154.55; 8. Emily TenCate, 135.60; 9. Lindy Edwards, 135.60; 11. Kelsey Neal, 127.75.

Boys

1. Gary Moku, Rio Rancho, 197.90; 2. Gavin Moku, Rio Rancho, 194.85; 3. Brian McCallister, Rio Rancho, 187.85; 4. Jeremy Jones, St. Michael’s, 171.60; 5. Dylan Whitley, Santa Fe, 169.65; Joseph Andres, NS.