Two years ago, Maggie Buckley was relatively clueless to diving.
And now, she can't see herself doing anything else.
Over the weekend, the Rampart sophomore became one of the state's best after she captured the Class 4A diving title. It topped last season's performance, in which she placed as the state runner-up just months after she picked up the sport.
Her finish this year also was a turning point for the Rams, who came from behind to capture back-to-back state girls' swimming and diving titles at Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton.
Buckley's standout performance landed her this week's Gazette Preps Peak Performer honor.
"There were definitely some nerves," she said, not long after she received her gold medal. "Since I got second last year, there (was) definitely some pressure because people kind of knew who I was at that point."
She was a competitive gymnast during her early years. Enter her freshman season: Several of her friends from gymnastics told her that they had made the transition to diving.
She tried out.
After all, both sports require an athlete to perform aerobatics in the air.
Buckley was fine with that. She said she signed up as "clueless freshman," but her coaches recognized she had talent. She picked up a catalog of dives. And soon enough, she was finished near the top at duals and meets.
Then came the state championship.
She finished second. That showing helped the Rams to their first state girls' swimming and diving title.
And this year, Buckley was clutch again.
The Rams were behind Niwot by a few points before the diving competition. She scored 498.65 points, comfortably ahead of Denver South's Lindsey Hammar, who totaled 475.5. Buckley's win in the event, coupled with Gabrielle Pelter's sixth-place showing, gave the Rams a nice, big lead.
"It's swimming and diving," said sophomore swimmer Lindsey Immel, "but diving usually doesn't get enough credit but without them we wouldn't be close to winning state."
Her teammates and coaches recognized the importance of the win.
"It was a turning point to pull ahead and stay ahead," Rams coach Dan Greene said.
And that's exactly what Buckley plans to do.
She wants to stay as one of the top state divers. So, that's why she's focused on her club team. Her diving season, in a way, just started. She plans to attend college diving camps in the summer and return to help the Rams to perhaps a three-peat at state.
Her ultimate goal is to earn a Division I scholarship in diving.
And she doesn't plan to return to gymnastics.
"I stopped last December to focus on diving," Buckley said, "because I found out I really like diving."
Just the Facts
Maggie Buckley, Rampart
Highlights: In just her second competitive year of diving, Buckley won the Class 4A title in her event with a score of 498.65. Last season, she was the runner-up. Her gold medal helped the Rams to back-to-back state titles.
Favorite movie: Big Hero Six
Favorite sports team: Atlanta Falcons
Favorite school subject: Science
Other Top Performers
Payton Kaiser, Vista Ridge
The senior dropped a season-best 27 points in a 76-62 win over Sand Creek last Friday. He hit three 3-pointers and recorded four assists to lead the Wolves to their second win in eight games.
Josephine Howery, St. Mary's
The junior poured in a game-high 23 points in a 73-34 win over Palmer Ridge last Saturday to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for her career. It helped the Pirates to a 17-1 overall record. Also last week, Howery scored 20 points in a dominant 60-20 win over La Junta.
Aaliyah Ricketts, Widefield
The senior scored nine points in a 48-42 win over Elizabeth to become her school's all-time scoring leader with 1,209 points. She accomplished the feat on Senior Night. The Gladiators have two regular season games left.
Tyler Alldredge, Doherty
The forward notched four goals and added an assist to lead the Spartans to an 8-1 win over Coronado last Saturday. It also helped Doherty extend its winning streak to 10 games.
Girls' swimming and diving
Meredith Rees, Lewis-Palmer
The senior had an all-around good day at the Class 5A state meet over the weekend, winning the 50-yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke. In the latter event, she came in 53.71 seconds -- about a second from the state record. Rees, a Missouri signee, kicked off the 200 medley relay for the Rangers, who placed seventh and broke a school record in a time of 1:46.75.
Edenna Chen, Rampart
The senior had three impressive performances at the Class 4A championships over the weekend. She was part of a Rams group that topped its own record 4A in the 200 medley relay in 1:42.49. She then went to set the classification record in the 100 breaststroke, finishing in 1:01.4, and taking second in the 50 freestyle behind teammate Lindsey Immel.
Jared Volcic, Mesa Ridge
The junior won the 195-pound title at the Colorado Springs Metro League championships over the weekend with two pins and an 8-3 win over Elizabeth's Abe Leonard. Leonard was ranked first in Class 3A and had a 28-1 record before the match. His win helped the Grizzlies with the team title.
Bella Mitchell, Vista Ridge
The junior was the lone champion from the Pikes Peak region at the sport's first state tournament as a pilot program over the weekend. She won the 161-pound weight class with a 23-second pin and a 5-2 decision before pinning ThunderRidge's Avery Harter in the finals. Mitchell finished the season with a 23-2 record.