Woodbury girls swimming & diving: 'Red' makes a splash at stateLauren Puglisi’s final season diving for Woodbury High School ended just like it did a year ago – on the podium at the state meet.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Lauren Puglisi’s final season diving for Woodbury High School ended just like it did a year ago – on the podium at the state meet.
Puglisi, a senior diver for the Royals, earned all-state honors for a second-straight year – taking sixth place in the 2012 State Girls Swimming and Diving Meet, held Nov. 15 – 17 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.
Puglisi, who is nicknamed “Red” because of her long red hair, finished two spots better than her eighth-place finish last year – with a score of 366.75 points in the nine-dive competition. All-state honors go to the top eight finishers in each event.
“My goal was to do better than last year,” Puglisi said. “I wanted top five, but it didn’t happen. It was definitely a goal to keep my spot from last year and hopefully do better.”
Prior to state, Puglisi won every meet she competed in this fall. Most recently, Puglisi earned gold at the Section 3AA Championship meet with a score of 370.05 – 45 points ahead of the second-place finisher.
Last year, Puglisi finished in eighth place with 361.85 points.
“We were hoping for around 380 this year,” longtime Woodbury diving coach Rick Light said. “So it was just below her personal best, but it was fine. The whole thing about the state meet, a lot of girls are stressed out about it. But, she had fun and enjoyed the whole thing. She’s going to remember this a long time.”
Puglisi said finishing her Woodbury diving career at the state meet was a good way to go out.
“The competition was a lot of fun – especially Thursday when nobody knew what was going to happen at the end,” she said. “And yesterday was my last practice for Woodbury. We had a lot of fun yesterday.”
In a very close battle for first place, Maple Grove senior Lexi Tenenbaum won the state diving championship with 448.35 points, edging Edina senior Yasmeen Almog, who had 439.20 points.
Puglisi was in fifth place after the preliminary round of six dives with 279.90 points – just over 30 points behind Tenenbaum. In the finals, with only three dives left, Puglisi’s first dive went for a score of just 21.00. Her second and third dives scored 34.65 and 31.20, respectively.
Light said Puglisi got more height on her first dive than she was used to.
“She went up – and she got so high, she didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “I call that a good mistake. Her scores didn’t indicate it, but she did some of the nicest dives tonight. She’s been working on some of those approaches all year and she finally did them today.”
Next year Puglisi will attend the University of Wyoming on a scholarship and will dive for the Cowgirls. But, before that, she’ll finish off her club career with Bounce Diving Club. Between competing for Woodbury and for Bounce Diving Club, Puglisi dives 12 months out of the year. In high school divers are restricted to the 1-meter springboard. However, in club, and in college, divers compete on three different events: the tower, the 3-meter springboard and the 1-meter springboard.
“It’s a little bit sad, but mostly I’m excited to move on and take what I’ve learned from here with me to those places,” Puglisi said.
Light began coaching diving at Woodbury High School in 1989 under Jerry Simpson. During that time, he’s mentored a number of excellent divers, including Heidi Lundervold, Holly Johannsen, and most recently, Erin Kohlbeck and Emily Bonfig.
Kohlbeck, a 2011 Woodbury graduate, earned All-State honors three straight years for the Royals and is currently diving Div. I for Boise State. Bonfig, who is currently a freshman diver at Harvard, earned All-State honors for a fourth time at last fall’s state meet.
Light said Puglisi, who was in the shadow of Kohlbeck and Bonfig for the past four years, “hasn’t even begun to dive yet.”
“When she gets to college she’s really going to improve,” Light said. “She came in as a ninth grader with a lot of room for improvement and she made a lot of improvement, but she’s nowhere near where she can be. I’m excited to see where she’s going to be in four years.”