Best on the Board

Alexis Kleshik shows perfect form on the last of her 11 dives Monday. The Dolphins’ junior repeated as City champion.
Photos by Steve Galluzzo

Pali High Junior Alexis Kleshik Repeats as City Section Girls Diving Champion

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

With each performance on the board in the final phase of Monday’s City Section diving finals, Alexis Kleshik widened her lead and her smile. By the time points were totaled her grin was as big as the pool is deep at Maggie Gilbert Aquatic Center, where the Palisades High junior repeated as girls champion with a score of 519.80 after 11 dives from the 1-meter board.

“It feels better this time because the competition was much stronger than it was last year,” said Kleshik, who lives within walking distance of campus and won last year’s City diving title a few months after transferring to Palisades from Santa Monica High. “I changed one of my dives to a lower difficulty because I scraped my hand at a club competition. I went from a gainer one-and-a-half pike to a one-and-a-half tuck.”    

Pali High junior Alexis Kleshik executes a half twist on her way to winning her second City Section diving championship Monday at Maqqie Gilbert Aquatic Center.

Kleshik not only advanced to the CIF state finals May 18-19 in Clovis, she scored valuable points for the Dolphins’ swim squad as it  attempts to defend its title tomorrow at Expo Stadium next to the LA Coliseum.   

“I’ve gotten better at a few of my dives I messed up last year at state,” Kleshik said. “I prefer 1-meter to the others and my favorite dive is the back one-and-a-half pike, but the hardest is the front two-and-a-half tuck.”   

Kleshik trains on the 1-meter, 3-meter and tower at UCLA and has added to her repertoire since she accumulated 465.95 points on her way to last year’s City crown.   

Maya Salvitti receives her second place medal on the deck.

“I choose my own dives and the judging in high school is much more lenient than what I’m used to in club, where we have regionals, zones and nationals,” added Kleshik, who has participated in the sport for 10 years. “I came to Pali in the middle of my sophomore year and I really like it.”

After the first five dives, Kleshik had 232.45 points. She led by over 20 points after the semifinals and earned three “9s” from the five-judge panel on her 10th dive to all but seal the victory.    

Joining Kleshik at the state finals meet will be club and Pali High teammate Maya Salvitti, who was second in the girls standings with 507.10 points, and Andrei Kozeluh, who was third in the boys competition.

Kleshik is the present queen, but Salvitti and fellow freshmen Maya Demontreux (ninth with a score of 280.55) and Christina Bihari (12th with 256.5 points) represent the Dolphins’ future.

Andrei Kozeluh wears his third-place medal with pride.

“I like the 1-meter best,” said Salvitti, who knows Demontreux   from Paul Revere Middle School. “I wasn’t sure how I’d do today. I was pretty surprised I got second.  My front two-and-a-half was my favorite dive. I scored all 6.5s and 7s. I’m on the same club team as Alexis so it’s great having her on my team here too.”

Kozeluh racked up 426 points and the sophomore also gained the last State finals berth, Rhett Rubacher of Granada Hills (470.10) and Lucas Wiegand of El Camino Real (439. 65) led the boys’ point standings.

Palisades also had two ninthgraders in the boys competition. Henry Andrews took seventh with 290.80 and Sean Botansky placed ninth with a score of 244.90.