The divers had the pool all to themselves Thursday as competition began in the Region III Swimming and Diving Championships in Soldotna with Kenai Central's Rachel Knowles and Kodiak's Greg Rose leading after the preliminary and semifinal rounds.
"I can't believe it's regions," Knowles said. "It almost doesn't feel like regions -- it's really, really laid back."
Divers completed eight rounds of competition Thursday and will have today to collect themselves before the final three rounds Saturday. Swimmers will be in the pool today beginning at 1 p.m. for preliminary heats. All event finals are slated for Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
Knowles said she started the competition off on the right foot.
"My forward one-and-a-half was nice. I nailed it," Knowles said. "It was my first dive. It's good to start out the meet really strong."
Knowles kept that momentum going, notching 250.90 points through eight dives. Soldotna's Heidi Biggs was in second with 168.75 points and Kenai's Jessie Miller was in third with 152.15 points.
"I started out pretty good, but by the end, three hours into the meet, I was kind of tired. My diving showed it," Biggs said. "I want to do well in the finals. I'm hoping for state."
In the boys competition, Kodiak's Jordan Cubbedge finished with three strong dives to narrow the gap with Rose. Rose had 201.25 points after the first round to Cubbedge's 176.55. Nicholas Wise of Colony was third with 176.55 points, and Kenai's Jordan Garten was in fourth with 166.20 points.
"Jordan and Greg from Kodiak -- they're really good," Garten said. "I look up to Jordan."
Cubbedge said he was happy with his final three dives after a slow start.
"It was not really good at the beginning. It was not any of my better diving," Cubbedge said, "but my coach just told me how amazingly I came back. The last three were the best dives I've done."
Cubbedge said it was good to have a day off between the semifinals and the finals.
"(Today) we don't get to dive in competition, but we do get two hours of practice, and Saturday we have warmups," Cubbedge said. "I get to think about my last three dives all day (tomorrow), and in the morning Saturday -- and there'll be a lot more people here. You get amped."
Garten also said he finished strong after an anxious start.
"Usually I dive a lot better. Today just was rough from the excitement of regions and all your nerves," Garten said. "My inward one-and-a-half I did real well today. I hadn't done it that well before."
Garten said he was glad to have a day to get ready for the finals.
"(Thursday) wasn't so hot, but now there's some time to get prepared for the next one. Hopefully, we'll do a lot better then," Garten said.
Knowles said she would have a hard time waiting until Saturday for the finals.
"I almost wish we were diving (Friday), but it will be good to have a day in between," Knowles said. "I'll go over my dives and ease into the finals."
Region III Swimming and Diving Championships
Semifinal Diving Results
(Through 8 dives)
1. Rachel Knowles, Ken, 250.90; 2. Heidi Biggs, Sol, 168.75; 3. Jessie Miller, Ken, 152.15; 4. Cara Hesselbach, Was, 151.10; 5. Tory Coursen, Sol, 144.95; 6. Elise Leahy, Val, 133.90; 7. Jennifer Werth, Sol, 130.95; 8. Sonja Miller, Was, 96.05; 9. Karina Petersen, Sol, 91.05; 10. Caitlin Pettijohn, Was, 22.50.
1. Greg Rose, Kod, 201.25; 2. Jordan Cubbedge, Kod, 184.75; 3. Nicholas Wise, Col, 176.55; 4. Jordan Garten, Ken, 166.20; 5. Chul Gibbs, Kod, 163.15; 6. Bryan Scoresby, Pal, 133.60; 7. Brandon Gonski, Col, 129.10; 8. Riley McCorkell, Was, 128.10; 9. Jerome Larson, Pal, 126.25; 10. Dustin Mariman, Sol, 118.85.
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