Oct. 5—CHEYENNE — Brinkley Lewis exploded off the diving board and high into the air Monday afternoon at the Cheyenne Central Natatorium.
Her flips were smooth and quick. She wasn’t rushing to complete them before she hit the water.
Watching Lewis wrap up practice, it’s abundantly clear why she’s made a strong case for being the best diver in Class 4A this season. The Central senior has the top six-dive score this season (256.45 points) and the second-best score on 11 dives (414.40).
She has only finished first in every meet the Lady Indians have competed in this fall. Lewis added two more wins to her total this past weekend when Central visited Rock Springs and Green River.
Those efforts earned Lewis Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
“I feel more clean and powerful than last year,” she said. “I did a dive a couple months ago that I hadn’t done in a while, and I could feel that I was a lot higher than normal. It’s stuff like that where I see that I’m stronger than I was before.
“My parents and coaches have all told me I look more powerful, and I see it on video.”
Lewis might be a year older, a year stronger and a year wiser, but she also battled a hip injury throughout a season that saw her finish fourth at the state meet in Gillette. The injury wore away at her confidence. She often wondered whether she was favoring the injured side of her body as she moved down the board on her approaches.
Lewis often stopped in the middle of her approach. The force of catching herself on the board took an even greater toll on her body, Central diving coach Talan Premer said.
Lewis started doing physical therapy to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in her hips a month before Central’s season started. She said she has never felt this strong at this point in the season. That has allowed Lewis to be hyper-focused and take ownership of her goals.
“We talked a lot this summer about what she wanted to do this season,” Premer said. “She wanted to tackle a couple harder dives and feel like her entries were ripping the water. She came to me with some mechanical things she wanted to fix, and we ran with it.
“It’s amazing when an athlete comes to you with the things they’d like to work on. I could suggest a million different things we could do, or new dives, harder dives with a bigger degree of difficulty. But if it doesn’t come from the athlete, their mind might not be ready.”
Not having complete buy-in makes divers tentative. The potential pain from slapping the water lingers in the back of their minds and makes them reluctant to truly go for a new dive. Doubts are normal, even if the athlete suggests the dive themselves. However, they’re more willing to accept the risk if it’s their idea, Premer said.
“If it wasn’t their idea, they’re more worried about all of the things that could go wrong and how much it’s going to hurt if they slap the water,” she said.
All Lewis is worried about is doing her best and how her dives feel. The scores and results will take care of themselves if her dives feel good while she’s giving it her all. Her relationship with Premer has given her the confidence to cut loose.
“There are still some days where I tell (Premer) I’m not sure if I can do a dive, but she’s really good at giving me confidence and pushing me out of my comfort zone,” Lewis said. “I trust her because she’s real with me. She’ll tell me it’s OK to skip some dives some days, but reminds me that I’m probably going to have to do those dives if I want to be competitive down the road.
“She explains things to be in a real way. I know she’s looking out for me and not giving me false confidence.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Keagan Bartlett and Chase Talich, football, Central: Bartlett, a senior, completed 9 of 14 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns to help the Indians beat Cheyenne South 49-0. He also rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Talich, a junior, hauled in three passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns.
n Ryan Fornstrom and Stu Lerwick, football, Pine Bluffs: Fornstrom, a senior, caught four passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns during the Hornets’ 56-0 win over Lusk. He also posted five solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and an interception.
Lerwick, also a senior, completed 13 of 21 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 21 yards and a touchdown.
n Cam Hayes, Drew Jackson and Garet Schlabs, football, Cheyenne East: Hayes, a junior, completed 38 of 50 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns during the Thunderbirds’ 42-39 loss at Sheridan. He also rushed for 35 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
Jackson, also a junior, caught eight passes for 115 yards. He also gained 72 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Schlabs, a senior, caught 19 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
n Elysiana Fonseca and Bradie Schlabs, volleyball, East: Fonseca, a senior, posted 27 kills across East’s win over Cheyenne Central and its loss to Natrona County. She missed the Lady Thunderbirds’ win over Sheridan after re-aggravating a knee injury.
Schlabs, a junior, dished out 58 assists and had 16 kills across those matches.
n Izzy Delay, girls swimming, Central: The junior won four events across two meets on the week.
n Sydney Morrell, girls cross-country, Central: The senior won the Thornton (Colorado) Invitational in 17 minutes, 51.8 seconds.
n Sydni Sawyer, girls swimming, East: The junior won four events on the week.
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at [email protected] or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.