Westhill Freshman Dives Into Record Books

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Westhill divers Lauren Burston, left, and Lauren Cunningham, right, stand with coach Jim Bowser after the Class LL meet on Monday. Photo Credit: Tom Renner

STAMFORD, Conn.  – Before this year, Westhill had not had a girl win a league or state diving championship.

Freshman Rachel Burston put herself into the record books, and she’s just getting started.

Burston, who won the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference title last week, added the Class LL crown to her resume Monday. Burston, who compiled 429 points in winning the state title, is seeded second for Friday’s State Open.

“It was a very consistent performance,’’ said Westhill coach Jim Bowser, who has been working with Burston since she was 7. “I keep preaching practice performance, to treat each dive like she does in practice, and she came pretty close. She really wasn't challenged in the state meet.”

Bowser believes Burston’s soaring confidence is one of the reasons behind her swift development.

“I’d like to see her maintain that, and not defer to the older girls at the Open,’’ Bowser said. “She’ll be pushed at the Open. It will be interesting to see how she rises to the challenge.”

Burston’s brother, Sean, won the State Open championship as a sophomore.

She also was helped by teammate Lauren Cunningham, who finished sixth.

“I think it’s very helpful to have a teammate with you at the state meets,’’ Bowser said. “They’ve been friends for over half of their lives. I told them at the beginning of the year that their leadership was needed, and they've responded. I think it has helped that they have really pushed each other.”

The only diver seeded ahead of Burston in the Open meet is Windsor senior Kalli Robelen, but there are a lot of other girls who are very close. The top four seeds are separated by just 12 points.

“It’s all about her mental state of mind,’’ Bowser said. “If she goes into it with the outlook that she can possibly win, she has a great shot.”

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