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West's Draper dives into second straight state appearance

By MIKE FORMAN
Feb. 23, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 22, 2012 at 8:23 p.m.

Mallory Draper will compete in her second consecutive state diving meet today in Austin.

UIL Swimming & Diving State Meet

Jamail Texas Swim Center, AustinQualifier: Mallory Draper, Victoria WestEvent: One-meter divingPreliminaries: 10 a.m., FridayFinals: 9:30 a.m., Saturday

Mallory Draper had no idea what to expect when she competed at the University Interscholastic League Swimming & Diving State Meet for the first time.

Draper qualified in one-meter diving as a freshman at Victoria West and finished eighth, after going into the meet as the ninth seed.

Draper will be headed back to the state meet as a sophomore and will begin Friday's preliminary round at the Jamail Texas Swim Center in Austin as the sixth seed.

"It's really noisy and they have a great pool," Draper said. "It's a separate pool for diving and that is amazing."

Draper amazed herself by qualifying for the state meet last season and was determined to return.

To accomplish the feat, she had to finish in the top two at the Region VI meet after winning the event at the District 24-4A meet.

Draper finished second at the regional meet.

"I was a little nervous because there were a few people that I was scared were going to get me in the end," she said. "The first few dives I just had to remember don't get too excited. Don't worry about anything just get through it."

Draper scored 351.60 points at the regional meet, which puts her just ahead of seventh seed Tish Walling of Andrews, who scored 350.90.

Houston Stratford's Phoebe Lamay, who won the Region VI meet, is seeded second behind Zoe Alaniz of Corpus Christi Ray.

Draper will dive eight times in the preliminary round and three in Saturday's final round.

"It all depends on how good you are that day, if it's a good diving day," Draper said. "I just stick to my original sheet. I don't want to change anything up right before state. That wouldn't be good."

Draper traveled to San Antonio on Monday to practice before going through her normal routine at the Victoria Aquatics Center on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Draper will have some butterflies when she first steps on the board, but figures to be much calmer than last year.

"I get nervous knowing that I want to hold up to a certain standard," she said. "That's where it comes from. Just making it back to state was great. Making it the first year, not knowing that I'd do well, not knowing that I'd even make it to regional, not knowing I'd do well in district. I'm glad that I have seen these people before and know what they're capable of doing."

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