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Swimming and Diving: One Raptor, two Royals divers qualify for state

Woodbury's Meghan Miller spins through a dive at the section competition on Thursday at Cottage Grove Middle School. (Bulletin photos by Blaze Fugina)1 / 3
East Ridge's Olivia Burleigh competes in the section diving competition on Thursday at Cottage Grove Middle School.2 / 3
Woodbury's Ali Grinde tucks through a dive on Thursday at Cottage Grove Middle School.3 / 3

Senior divers from the Woodbury area dominated the Class 2A, Section 3 diving competition on Thursday evening at Cottage Grove Middle School.

Woodbury’s Meghan Miller won the Section 3AA diving competition for the third consecutive season while her teammate Ali Grinde finished fourth. East Ridge’s Olivia Burleigh also finished second to earn her fifth trip to state. All-in-all, East Ridge and Woodbury divers won three of the section’s four state diving bids. Rosemount junior Andrea Holtz finished third also to qualify for state. A total of 22 divers competed on Thursday.

Miller ended up winning the section diving competition with a score of 442.90.

The Woodbury senior was modest about her performance after winning another section title on Thursday.

“I dove pretty well, I just don’t think I dove the best I could have,” Miller said. “It did end up being a pretty solid meet. I made a few corrections here and there, so that was good.”

Last season, Miller advanced to the Class 2A diving finals as a junior. She ended up placing third in the state with a finals diving score of 419.50.

In her final season at Woodbury, the prospective NCAA Division 1 diver hopes she can advance to the state finals once again.

“I definitely want to get top-eight again, and I hope to improve on my score from last year,” Miller said. “As long as I get that I’ll be happy.”

Burleigh looks ahead to final competition

East Ridge’s Burleigh is no stranger to the Class 2A state diving competition.

This season will mark her fifth consecutive appearance at state dating back to when she was eighth-grader. As a sophomore, Burleigh advanced to the state finals and finished 12th.

On Thursday, the East Ridge senior placed second in the section with a score of 396.20.

“This has probably been my best meet throughout the season, so I’m really happy about that,” she said.

Burleigh said she has not felt as strong this season up to Thursday’s section meet. She cut back her training this summer after deciding she did not want to dive in college. She had options to be a college diver, but Burleigh intends to be a pre-med major and eventually become a doctor.

“I just decided that I want my academics to be first and my diving second, that’s always been a thing for me,” Burleigh said. “Academics drove me to choose a school that doesn’t have diving.”

With that decision, next week’s Class 2A state meet will likely be her final diving event.

“I’m nervous and sad because all my friends are divers, and we’re all a really close family,” she said.

Grinde gets her first appearance at state

Woodbury senior Grinde entered the final three dives of the section competition in fifth place, one spot outside of the top-four needed to qualify for state.

But she was able to keep her cool through the last three dives. She was able to qualify for state with a score of 326.20, ahead of fifth place Macy Gilmore of Apple Valley with a score of 320.70.

“I just had to keep my cool and try my best,” Grinde said.

It has been an action-packed few days for the Woodbury diver. She signed her national letter of intent on Wednesday to dive at Minnesota State University Moorhead, and the next day she earned her first-ever trip to state.

“I didn’t really expect it, so it’s overwhelming,” Grinde said about the state bid. “I’m really happy.”

Now that she has earned a spot at state, Grinde said she just wants to compete and see where her scores take her.

“I just want to have fun,” she said. “I’ve never been there. It’s my last season, so I just want to try my best and see where I finish.”

The section 3AA finals for swimmers will be held Friday at Bluewater Aquatic Center in Apple Valley.

The Class 2A state meet will be held on Nov. 16 through 18 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.