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PAUL RODRIGUEZ , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Michelle Lee of Fairmont Prep makes a dive off of the 1- meter board on Friday at the CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships in Clovis.

Fairmont Prep's Lee finishes eighth in state

STAFF WRITER

FRESNO - Die-hard aquatics fans know Michelle Lee for mentoring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on a celebrity diving show a few years ago.

“It was really fun and I’m happy I got to do that,” Lee said of her time on the short-lived series “Splash”.

Lee stays in touch with the basketball legend through his manager, but the Fairmont Prep freshman is carving her own reputation as a competitive diver. The signs of her progress surfaced again Friday.

Lee placed eighth at the inaugural CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships to lead Orange County girls on a cool morning at Clovis West High.

Lee’s Trojan club teammate, senior Olivia Rosendahl of Los Angeles’ Immaculate Heart, captured the girls title with an 11-dive score on the 1-meter springboard of 517.50 points. The Northwestern-bound Rosendahl was the Southern Section’s runner-up in Division 3 and is headed to the World University Games this summer in South Korea.

The state boys diving final is Saturday morning.

Lee scored 450.70 points. She spent most of the session hovered in the top five but cooled off in her final three dives, all of which carried a degree of difficulty of 2.2 or higher.

“I was pretty happy overall,” she said. “I’m still a freshman, so I think it would be a really good experience to (try to qualify for state) all four years.”

Lee scored a 9.0 and two 8.5s in the third round on a reverse 11/2-somersault tuck.

“She’s a beautiful diver,” said Coach Curt Wilson of Crown Valley Divers, who served as a judge. “She is slightly built so she doesn’t get a lot of push on the board right now, but she will and she’ll do great.”

Dana Hills’ Madeline Wiese (442.70) and Laguna Hills’ Heather Yoshii (413.00) both cracked the top 16, finishing 10th and 15th, respectively, to earn points for their schools. Both dive club for Crown Valley.

Trojan Dive Club delivered a strong performance. Rosendahl outdistanced runner-up Mikaela Lujan of Nevada Union (492.85) and third-place Mimi Lin of Palo Alto (489.85), while the Trojan’s Carly Souza of West Ranch (469.80) finished fourth.

“Every other state in the country has a state championship. We never have until today,” Wilson said. “We’re blessed.”

“It’s exciting,” Rosendahl said of becoming the first state champion.

Lee, Rosendahl and Souza, a junior, train under former Mission Viejo Nadadores coach Hongping Li at USC.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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