With 30 divers in tow, one might think the Hilltop High School swim team would be a heavy favorite to capture Thursday’s upcoming Mesa League diving championship, especially since the Lancers return both of last year’s male and female divers of the year.
Certainly, Hilltop will be favored when competition starts at 2 p.m. at the Parkway pool in downtown Chula Vista.
Besides titles being contested in the Mesa League, divers from the South Bay League also will be in competition.
Divers will be judged on six dives.
Both the Mesa League girls and boys titles appear up for grabs this season, which attests to the talent and depth present in the Hilltop program.
Veronica Guzman returns as the league’s female diver of the year, though she expects to be pushed by teammate Kennedy Miranda, who was second at the league finals two years ago.
On the boys side, Darius Marguet won last year’s title but teammate Josh Fischer has turned in the better dives so far this season.
Fischer, at 6 feet, 2 inches tall, is one of the tallest divers to compete at the high school level.
“For his age, he’s very comfortable on the board and very comfortable rotating in the air,” said Hilltop dive coach Kyle Kovar, a former CIF champion for the Lancers. “He’s also very understanding of his mistakes, which is nice.”
Guzman recorded their top score in dual meet competition in a league dual against Olympian May 1 at the Parkway pool: 188.35 points for six dives. In the same meet, she also set a school record with 306 points for 11 dives. Fischer tallied 147.55 points in a dual meet against Eastlake April 24 at Southwestern College; he showed his consistency by scoring 145.5 points in the dual meet against Olympian.
With so many divers on the team, the Lancers have had to divide up the group, with divers rotating in a bid to earn actual competition time.
Thus far, the plan has worked. Hilltop finished the league season undefeated in diving competition.
“Josh will be out to finish first among the guys but there are a couple of guys from Otay Ranch who can throw it,” Lancer swim coach John Salts explained. “If they can perform with high degree of difficulties, they could be a factor.”
Marguet’s season isn’t over yet, either. Hilltop’s other strong male diver this season is Zachary Passwaters. Fischer and Passwaters finished first and second, respectively, in the Lancers’ last outing against Olympian. Passwaters racked up 133.20 points while teammate Angel Soto placed third with 111.05 points.
The Eagles had three boys and one girl in competition against Hilltop, and they didn’t look bad on the board.
“My brother tried doing it, and he liked it, so I wanted to try it out, and I really enjoy it,” Olympian junior Grady Romero said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s intense but it’s rewarding.”
Eagles teammate Heath Forney concurs with Romero about the fun factor.
“I used to be on a swim team (when my family was stationed) in Japan,” the red-haired Forney explained. “I’ve done gymnastics and I’ve always liked to do flips.”