FORT COLLINS — It's not always the same song, but Fairview diver Julia Benz is always blasting some kind of hype music right before each dive.
At the Class 5A girls swimming and diving state championships on Saturday, Benz was bouncing to the Lean on Me Remix by Major Lazer right up until she climbed the diving board steps in the state finals.
"That gets me really pumped," said Benz, who spikes her drying towel off to the side of the board before each approach. "You've got to be aggressive when you dive and the music gives me what I need."
What Benz needed on Saturday was to go out with a bang her senior season. Focused as she could be, Benz scored a total of 467.80 points, which earned her second place. Considering that first place went to Regis Jesuit's Austin Mckensi (539.90 points) for the third straight year, Benz was overjoyed with the result.
On her final dive in the finals, Benz scored 50.4 points with an inward double tuck. She edged Douglas County's Lexie Barker for second place by 4.2 points.
"I'm really happy with it," Benz said. "I had good warm ups and I think I nailed my last dive so it went really well. This is the best thing I could have hoped for. It was my goal to get second and just to compete with Mckensi. I couldn't be happier because I've been diving for three and a half years and it's been my goal to get second from the beginning. I've trained really hard this year and it paid off."
Broomfield junior Katie Conn entered the state finals with more modest expectations but far exceeded them. Though her goal was simply to crack the top 15, Conn nailed a back flip one-and-a-half twist in the finals to help her score 419.45 points and place eighth.
Looking to last through preliminaries and semifinals and compete in the finals, Conn ended up on the podium with a medal around her neck.
"I'm a little blown away," Conn said. "I'm surprised, I guess. It's been a crazy couple of days but it's been really fun and I've enjoyed it."