In good company: GJ’s Jenkins joins McLean in qualifying for state swimming meet

Grand Junction’s Gillian McLean prepares to dive Saturday during the Western Slope Championships 1-meter competition at El Pomar Natatorium.

Grand Junction’s Heather Jenkins twists through the air Saturday as she dives during the Western Slope Championships 1-meter competition at El Pomar Natatorium. Jenkins qualified for the Class 5A State Swimming & Diving Championships later this week. Teammate Gillian McLean already had qualified.

Grand Junction High School diver Gillian McLean will have some company at the Class 5A State Swimming & Diving Championships later this week.

Teammate Heather Jenkins scored 349.15 points in the Western Slope Championships 1-meter diving competition Saturday at El Pomar Natatorium to qualify for state with McLean.

“I’m so happy,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been working so hard for it.”

McLean took first place with a 359.7 to lead the Tigers to an eighth-place finish with 124 points.

Montrose took first and second place in all three relay events to roll to the Western Slope League team title and qualify for state. The Indians scored 654 points in the 12 events. Durango took second with 423, Gunnison was third with 215, Fruita Monument was fourth with 188. Palisade/Central was ninth and Delta was 10th out of 11 teams.

“I’ve never had a team take one and two in every relay (at the Western Slope Championships),” Montrose coach Silas Almgren said. “That’s a real testament to this really deep group.”

Almgren had one more girl qualify for state in an individual event, freshman Haley Krebs in the 100-yard backstroke. She will join nine other girls that have already qualified for the Class 4A State Championships in Loveland. They are Alyssa Aragon, Ashley Aragon, Emily Stucky, Brooke Gaber, Christine Hurford, Rashyll Leonard, Logan Morris, Jenny Nocas and Amanda Winslow.

Stucky, a senior, continued to dominate the two events she has won Class 4A state titles in, the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, winning both in convincing fashion.

“The 50 freestyle is fun,” Stucky said. “I really like it. It was a good start to the day for me.”

Winslow, a junior, won the distance freestyle swims, 200 and 500, taking seven seconds off her 200 time and 11 seconds off her 500 time.

“Both of those races came out to the end,” she said. “I didn’t think I could beat Ashley (Roper of Glenwood Springs in the 200).”

Morris, a sophomore, won the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke in her first year of high school swimming.

“I can’t even believe it,” Morris said. “I’m still shaking (10 minutes after winning her second event).”

Jenkins, a junior, could hardly believe she qualified for state herself.

The first-year diver needed to score 23 points on a front 11⁄2 full twist, a 2.2 degree of difficulty, on her last dive to qualify. She scored 32.

“It’s been a struggle,” Jenkins said. “That’s the hardest trick for me to learn. I knew I had to be aggressive. I had to set it and throw it like no other (dive).”

McLean, who received the Western Slope Swimmer & Diver of the Year award, had already qualified for state and was attempting to score high enough to earn All-American status, but had a failed dive on her last attempt.

Although she had no score on her last dive, she still had her highest score of the season.

Fruita’s Leah Temple finished one second shy of qualifying for state in the 50 freestyle.


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