Spring in her step: GJ’s McLean sets school diving record in quad win

Grand Junction’s Gillian McLean performs one of her six dives Friday during the Tigers’ quadrangular victory at El Pomar Natatorium. McLean set a school record with her score of 240.4 points.

Gillian McLean has accomplished a lot in her short competitive diving experience, but she’s far from done.

The Grand Junction High School senior had another landmark effort, surpassing a 12-year-old school record Friday to lead the Tigers to first place in a quadrangular meet against Delta, Glenwood Springs and Gunnison at El Pomar Natatorium. Grand Junction finished with 504 points. Gunnison took second with 496, Glenwood was third with 475 and Delta took fourth with 343.

McLean, a second-year diver, took first in the 1-meter diving with a six-dive score of 240.4. The previous school record was 232.8.

“I saw the school record at the beginning of the school year and it’s been my goal to break it,” McLean said. “I know it was possible with the dives I’ve been throwing. I’ve been working really hard all summer. My coach is the best coach I could ask for.”

McLean broke the school record despite an unspectacular second dive.

“She’s got to be one of the hardest working athletes I’ve seen,” Grand Junction diving coach Mandy Squires said. “She even technically fumbled her second-round dive and still scored that amount. That to me, the fact she could pick herself back up, knowing she missed a dive, and still come out with that score, that’s why she’s one of the top divers in the state. Mentally, she’s there, she knows what she has to do.”

McLean, who is receiving college offers from Wingate (N.C.) University and the University of Wyoming, put that unsuccessful dive behind her and focused on her final four.

She changed one of her dives from a pike position to a tuck position and it paid off, scoring 7, 7.5 and 7.5 on an inward 11⁄2.

“We made a last-minute decision on one of her dives to change her position because the tuck position was going in so much better than the pike position on her inward 1 1/2,” Squires said. “I don’t know if she would’ve scored that in pike, but I know doing it in tuck was the right decision. As a coach, I try to let that be there decision. I won’t have them change an entire dive last minute, but I will let them change position. I will let them make the call.”

McLean will need another score of 200-plus on a six-dive meet or a score of 340 on an 11-dive meet to qualify for state.

“She could very easily get in the upwards of 400,” Squires said. “We don’t like to talk about it. This meet going into the next meet were her hardest dives.

“She’ll go in with something to prove coming from Grand Junction.”

The qualifying score last year was 330 points in 11 dives.

Teammate Heather Jenkins placed second in 1-meter diving with a score of 187.75, but Squires believes Jenkins could top 200 points a couple times this season and qualify for state as well.

“Heather has the potential to qualify for state,” Squires said. “She’s in her first season diving. She’s been on the diving board for six weeks and she’s throwing dives it takes some people years to get. Having Gillian in the pool lifting the rest of the girls up helps.”

Grand Junction’s Jordyn Madsen took second place in the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 24.48 seconds) and in the 100 breaststroke (1:23.20). Ellen Atkinson took second in the 100 backstroke (1:15.94) and third in the 100 butterfly (1:15.92).

Glenwood Springs’s Hannah Grumley secured a state berth with a first-place swim of 1:05.75 in the 100 butterfly. The Demons’ 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay had state qualifying times as well.


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