Flintridge Prep's Maddi Witt dives to CIF championship

Madison Witt couldn’t help but look up to Annika Lenz, but by the end of the CIF Southern Section Division III Diving Finals Tuesday their roles were reversed.

A year after just being edged by Pasadena Poly’s Lenz in her freshman season, Flintridge Prep’s Witt came back and kept the standout Panther from ending her high school career with a fourth CIF championship.

Witt jumped out to a slim lead after the sixth round and didn’t give up any ground en route to capturing the Division III crown with 538 points, while Olivia Rosendahl of Immaculate Heart finished runner-up with 523.85 at Riverside City College.

“I wasn’t expecting to win; I was just hoping to get top three, that was my goal,” Witt said. “Winning was just the cherry on top for me.”

Lenz finished a disappointing third with 486.75 points after she’d won Division II titles in 2012 (545.25), 2011 (579.30) and 2010 (562.20). Lenz’ most recent championship came at the expense of Witt, who finished runner-up with nearly the exact same score (538.80) she had this season.

“I didn’t have my day today, but it’s OK,” said Lenz, who’ll dive at UCLA next season. “The last three years were a lot better, but everyone now and then has an off-day.”

Lenz had also gotten the best of Witt, whose strength is at three-meter, at Prep League Finals, which is only a one-meter competition. Lenz was the league champion with 543.70 points and Witt took second (500.65).

“She’s just someone to look up to for me because she’s been such an amazing diver and I know all her successes,” said Witt, who’s also competed alongside Lenz on the So Cal Diving team outside of high school. “We have our good days and we have our bad days and I think today was just one of my good days.”

Witt completed nine three-meter dives to Lenz’ seven in Tuesday’s 11-round competition and also had higher degree of difficulty dives than Lenz down the stretch.

Still, Witt said she didn’t get ahead of herself and assume the championship was hers until she successfully completed her final dive.

“I’ve learned through experience that anything can happen,” Witt said. “If you mess up one little thing your competition can come back and take over, so I was hoping to stay consistent and thankfully I did.”

Flintridge Prep’s Kyla Bradley and Westridge’s Cassidy Golden also competed through the final round and finished with 397.05 and 392.60 points to take ninth and 10th, respectively. Maranatha’s Zoe Wilkens took 14th with 277.90 points.

On the boys’ side, Maranatha finished with three of the top four divers in Division III with Sage Hill’s Harry Lubowe winning with 451.60 points. Maranatha’s Victor Ginelli was runner-up with 433.05 points — a vast improvement from last year.

“It’s awesome because last year I took third; it’s nice bumping up one more spot,” said Ginelli, a junior who posted 351.95 points in 2012.

“He actually killed his last three dives, so that’s where he pulled it off and impressed the judges,” Maranatha Coach Fran McCoppin said. “That’s how he moved up.”

Junior David Bunn, who entered the day as the top seed, slipped to a disappointing third (430.95) for the Minutemen. Maranatha freshman Kendall Hollimon took fourth (426.40).

“He was frustrated through the whole meet,” McCoppin said of Bunn. “I think he got in his head too early and got frustrated, but he’s an excellent diver.”

Nick Scanlan was the final placer in the 10-man field (185.60) for the Minutemen.

In Division III, Maranatha’s Hailey Gomez (177), Savannah Bancroft (173.40) and Mayfield’s Makenna Crawford (170.25) finished 19th to 21st, respectively, in the 26-member field.

Also making an appearance in the 36-diver Division I girls’ competition were La Cañada’s Courtney Wagner, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s Caroline Bender and Claire Linden of San Marino. Wagner finished 23rd with 177.55 points, Bender was 29th (156.55) and Linden was 33rd (128.55).

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