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HIGH SCHOOL DIVING : Bonita Vista’s Bauer Completes Transition With Title

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was 2 1/2 years ago that Julianne Bauer burned out on gymnastics. Though an Elite competitor, she had not reached her peak. But she had reached her boiling point.

She quit.

She did nothing for two months, then took the first steps toward becoming a cheerleader at Bonita Vista High School. But Brigitte Elfman, a friend from her days with Aztec Gymnastics, convinced her to try her hand at diving.

It turned out to be some hand. On Friday, Bauer turned in the third-highest 11-dive score in finals history to win the San Diego Section girls’ championship.

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She impressed judges to the tune of 434.50 points, third only to Monte Vista’s Kristen Walls (450.80 in 1989) and Santana’s Eileen Maul (436.95 in 1987).

Bauer, a 5-foot senior, was the first of two Bonita Vista athletes to win titles. Junior Chris Chapman overcame favored Jonathon Gale of Poway on his eighth dive and beat him by nearly seven points.

Chapman won with 401.50 points. Gale scored 393.70, and third-place Troy Velasco scored 359.65.

As she did the judges, Bauer impressed opponents, too.

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“I love watching her dive,” Mt. Carmel’s Kelly Manion said. “I think she basically had it when she came here. She even missed her reverse 1 1/2 and was still way ahead of everyone.”

Manion took third with 382.60 points. Grossmont’s Juli Walls, trying to keep the section title in the family after her sister won in 1988 and ’89, was a distant second (390.45).

Elfman, who invited Bauer to try diving, finished sixth with 359.45 points.

Bauer, who will attend South Carolina on a diving scholarship in the fall, said she’s a fast learner, and that allowed her to reach the pinnacle of high school diving--and to do so dominantly--with just 2 1/2 years of practice.

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“I’m a good listener, so I hear,” Bauer said. “And I make changes.”

Her coach, Dive San Diego’s Tom Scotty, said the mental toughness Bauer had acquired allowed her to train as diligently as she had during her 10-year gymnastics career. And many of the moves are the same.

“Once she learned how to use the diving board, she took off,” Scotty said. “She really bought into the program, the conditioning, the things that have allowed her to learn and come around so fast.”


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