LOUISVILLE -- For Grace Newell, diving became an intriguing option after the physical demands of her first sport of choice, gymnastics, took a severe toll on one of her hips.
In the case of Savannah Magness, diving became attractive once she realized much of the training and many of the moves she incorporated as a competitive cheerleader would translate seamlessly.
Although the duo remain only sophomores, Newell and Magness already are showing significant signs of improvement, and together they are giving the Monarch girls swim team one of the top diving tandems in the state. Newell and Magness will entertain the very real possibility of capturing the top two spots Friday at the annual Boulder County Invitational at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.
"Last year when they got into the program, they already had a great skill-set," said Monarch diving coach Emily Hanson, a former diver at the University of Hawaii. "I think what they've improved on the most is their competitiveness, and being able to actually compete with their talent.
"You never know what will happen, but going 1-2 (at BoCo) would be great. If not, as long as they try their hardest and keep working, that's all that matters."
Newell and Magness placed second and third, respectively, at the Boulder County Invite last year, finishing behind former Longmont and current University of Northern Colorado diver Haley Schneider. While Newell was able to qualify for state as a rookie, ultimately finishing 21st in the preliminaries at the Class 5A finals, Magness did not quite reach that final stage. However, both divers already have qualified for state this season.
Newell and Magness enjoyed a breakout performance at the annual Colorado Coaches Invitational three weeks ago. Taking on some of the state's top competitors from both 5A and 4A, Newell placed eighth while Magness finished 11th, an effort that left Hanson "incredibly impressed and awed."
No doubt, it was an encouraging performance for two divers attempting to steadily work their way into the ranks of the state's elite.
"I felt like (the Coaches Invite) showed me that I'm capable of doing things and that it's going to be a good season," said Newell, who turned to diving when hip surgery derailed her aspirations in gymnastics. "This week I just want to focus on doing my dives as good as I can. We're hoping for (1-2). We feel like we always stick together and encourage each other. It's nice to have (Magness) as a teammate."
Both athletes essentially met one another when they began the sport basically at the same time. After learning the ropes throughout their freshman season together, the pair has adopted a mutual sense of encouragement and competition that each diver believes has helped raise their performances to a level they probably would not have reached on their own.
"We definitely push each other," Magness said. "We're always on the same page and we're always kind of on the same skill level. It helps to have a little friendly competition. It pushes us better. I think it's helped me throughout these couple years of diving. We always encourage each other when we try new things and it's always good to have that person that pushes you."
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