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CORE Tsunami team back in action

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Peter Stein/News-Sun

Local divers on the CORE Tsunami team have to take advantage of getting competition when and where they can.

The older divers who participated on the Hobbs varsity team didn’t get much chance to compete against other teams this past winter.

And the divers who are not in at least eighth grade are too young to compete at the high school level.

So, competitions like the one CORE Tsunami recently attended in Midland, Texas are important, even more crucial when the Tsunami divers fare as well as they did.

“It was a great, phenomenal meet,” CORE Tsunami coach Cynthia Calderon said. “Oh my gosh, the competition is pretty fierce and intense.”

To give an indication of just how fierce and intense, there were 14 teams, 70 events, 181 divers, 364 entries, 12 coaches, and 2,644 dives. Hobbs only competed in one event of the one-meter dive. “Down the road we’ll get the kids on three-meter, and they’ll compete in the three-meter,” Calderon said. “But right now we’re starting small and we’ll progressively grow.”

Even though it was just the one-meter this time, the Eagles got to compete – period – which was huge.

“In our district we’re the only team that has divers,” Calderon said, “so we have a lot of meets that don’t have any competition. The boys compete among themselves, and that’s not any fun. We compete all year long and practice all year long so we can be competitive against high school programs.”

The AAU competition had three regions – Red White and Blue – and each region was divided into North and South. Every top-six diver at each meet is eligible to attend the National meet in West Virginia.

There were over 150 divers competing in Midland at different levels, from one-meter diving to tower diving, including competitors from Arizona, Colorado, Northeast Texas and New Mexico.

“This is the first time our divers have attended a higher-level meet,” Calderon said. “The kids did exceptionally well. For a lot of them it was their first dive meet; for all of them this is the first big regional meet through AAU. We haven’t done AAU meets in a really long time. I think the last one I took my kids to was 2012. There were a lot of things that kept me from giving my kids that experience.”

Things like health issues, and COVID shutting everything down. But now Calderon is guiding divers at meets once again.

Among the Tsunami divers who attended the Midland meet was sixth-grader Ryan Cooper, who had a little baptism by fire. “This was his very first meet,” Calderon said, “and it happened to be one of the largest meets. He’s only been diving a few months; he did well for his first meet.”

Also competing was Lilly Martin, another sixth-grader, who was as inexperienced as her classmate Cooper, yet placed ninth out of 14 girls in her age group.

“This too was her first dive meet,” Calderon said. “She did a phenomenal job.”

Calderon said Martin performed eight dives as she continues “working on building her degree of difficulty so she can beat these girls.”

Seventh-grader Nicholas Morales also competed, and though he wasn’t a dive-meet newcomer, he hadn’t competed in a while. “He competed a few times years ago, and then took a two-year break,” Calderon said. “He’s only been back on the board a few months.”

And he still managed to place seventh out of eight boys in his age group.

Tsunami’s Ivan Godoy placed 18th. “He had a great meet,” Calderon said. “He successfully completed his dive sheet. This was his first regional meet. He has been diving only a few years, and continues to grow.”

LuisMiguel Cornejo competed as well, and placed 15th.

“This was LuisMiguel’s first time attending such a meet,” Calderon said. “He had a great performance.”

And there was Gabriel Palomino, who placed seventh overall in the 16-17 year-old age group.

“This was his first meet competing at this level,” Calderon said. “Gabriel was invited to join the White Team at the Nationals competition in Morgantown, West Virginia Memorial Weekend. This is the first for our divers throughout the 22 years I’ve been coaching.”

Calderon isn’t exactly sure when Tsunami will compete again. It may not be until the team hosts its own meet at the CORE Center on July 9, but it could be sooner.

“The kids want to go to Colorado Springs; I don’t think we’re going to be able to go to Colorado Springs,” Calderon said. “But we’d like to go to San Antonio, and I think that’s going to be sometime in May.”

If not, there’s that July 9 meet, which is likely to draw teams from Lubbock, Midland, Farmington and elsewhere.

“We have this amazing facility,” Calderon said, “and we haven’t used it for our meets at all. So we’re really excited.”

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