LA finishes season strong at district

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By Mike Cote

Josh Wilcox came through when he needed to Friday and Saturday, earning a final score of 288.50, which put him in the state meet.

Los Alamos, heading into this weekend’s meet, had already qualified four girls divers. Wilcox, the team’s lone boy diver, was within range of qualifying himself with a good showing during Saturday’s final three dives.

Wilcox got 5s across the board with his second dive of Friday’s preliminaries, an inward 1-1/2 somersault tuck with a 2.2 degree of difficulty, one of the tougher dives he attempted in the meet.

Wilcox joined the diving team during Los Alamos High School’s winter break. Previously Wilcox was involved in snowboarding and for his first several attempts during practice, he was performing 360-degree turns and other snowboarding tricks before he was told there has to be some vertical rotation in there as well.

Hilltopper veteran diving coach Keith Greene said many of his divers’ scores have actually dropped as the season wore on, mostly because many of them have been attempting more difficult dives.

On the season, Hilltopper Amy Neal has posted the best finish on the girls team, earning a 154.00  at the Farmington Invitational last week. Neal qualified on the strength of that outing, as did Emily TenCate.

Greene said this season has been a very good one, not just for his divers, but for him personally.

“They have really rejuvenated the program and they’ve rejuvenated me,” Greene said. “It really rejuvenated me to see them pushing themselves. They tell themselves, ‘I want to do better, I want to try harder stuff.’”

Greene said one of the big factors that has done the program good this season has been the installation of new diving boards on the deep end of the Larry R. Walkup pool. Many teams in the past had complained about Los Alamos’ diving boards – which Greene admits were pretty poor – but this season those same teams have been rushing to Los Alamos to use the new boards.

Kelsey Neal, a senior, earned a 131.75 at Academy Jan. 27 to earn a ticket to state, while Erin Dinehart qualified in early January at home with a 95.85.

Dinehart was actually Los Alamos’ top finisher at the District 2 meet.

At the meet, the Hilltoppers got to see the kind of competition they will be going up against at this weekend’s state championship meet.

Among the competitors this weekend on the boys side were Desert Academy’s Stuart Sproul, who has posted the second-best score in New Mexico this season – Hobbs’ Mallet Reid has posted ridiculous scores throughout the season including a 531.05 at the District 3 championship Feb. 6.

On the girls side, Laura Lee Thomas of St. Michael’s had an impressive outing at district and could well push for a state title with a good outing at this weekend’s meet.

This weekend’s competition was divided into two parts, with 8 dives performed Friday and the final 3 Saturday, to simulate the state championship meet.

Following Dinehart was Kelsey Neal, who finished with a 288.80, which placed her third overall. Tencate was fourth overall and Amy Neal finished fifth.

Wilcox placed fourth in the boys competition.