Perfect ending for Maple Grove diver Lexi Tenenbaum

Senior becomes school’s 1st state diving champion

By Bob San

Maple Grove senior diver Lexi Tenenbaum completed a perfect season when she captured the state championship at the state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center last Saturday.

Tenenbaum entered state as the heavy favorite since she had the best scores and had won every meet this season. The pressure of high expectations might have fazed others, but not the laidback Tenenbaum.

Maple Grove’s Lexi Tenenbaum admires the state diving championship medal as good friend and runner-up Yasmeen Almog of Edina applauds. (Photos by Bob San)

Maple Grove’s Lexi Tenenbaum admires the state diving championship medal as good friend and runner-up Yasmeen Almog of Edina applauds. (Photos by Bob San)

“I felt a little pressure but I had a pretty solid meet,” said Tenenbaum. “I took it pretty much like another meet. I just took it one dive at a time and tried to stay calm.”

Tenenbaum led from start to finish but was severely tested by Edina’s Yasmeen Almog throughout the competition. The two traded solid dive after solid dive and were separated by a small margin. Like she had done all season, Tenenbaum rose to the challenge. She clinched the state championship by nailing her final dive, a back 1.5 somersault 1.5 twist. Tenenbaum finished with 448.35 points and Almog took second with 439.20.

“It’s kind of funny because we are actually really close friends outside of diving,” Tenenbaum said. “When we competed against each other, we both wanted each other to be good, so it’s a unique situation. We wanted the best for each other, but yes, she definitely put more pressure on me.”

Lexi Tenenbaum twists and turns her way on her final dive at the state meet. The Maple Grove senior led from start to finish to capture the state championship.

Lexi Tenenbaum twists and turns her way on her final dive at the state meet. The Maple Grove senior led from start to finish to capture the state championship.

“She was under a lot of pressure but that’s when she performs her best,” Crimson diving coach Stacey Benjamin said. “She was pretty calm, but that’s what she trained for — when under pressure you have to pull it out. She held first place throughout the meet but she for sure needed a solid last dive. She did a wonderful job.”

Tenenbaum became Maple Grove’s first state diving champion.

“I think it’s pretty cool. It’s an amazing way to end the season,” she said.

The state meet ended Tenenbaum’s five-year high school career, which started when she was just looking to try something new.

“I started diving in eighth grade,” said Tenenbaum, who was a gymnast a very young age. “Diving and gymnastics are similar so I wanted to try. And my sister is on the swim team so I wanted to try diving and see if I liked it and I liked it right away. Both sports give me a lot of satisfaction when I do well. The thing I like about diving is it takes up a little bit less of my time. I can have more free time. And it’s less hard on my body than gymnastics.”

After finishing fourth in the state meet last year, Tenenbaum decided to drop gymnastics and concentrate on diving. The result is a fantastic season capped by a state championship. Tenenbaum joins an elite group of Maple Grove individual state champions. They are Tara Schroeder (gymnastics all-around and floor exercise in 2000), Lisa Waananen (cross country running and 3,200 run in 2003), Curt Carlson (100 and 200 freestyle titles in 2006 and 2007 and 200 and 400 freestyle relays in 2007), RachelAnn Anderson (floor exercise in 2008) and Tess Behrens (100 backstroke in 2009).

Tenenbaum will reunite with Behrens on the University of Minnesota swim and dive team next fall because she has committed to join the Gophers.

“I went on a recruiting visit in September,” Tenenbaum said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go to college. But after going on my visit and touring the campus, I found I actually like the school and the team and I decided that’s the school for me. Tess and I are going to be teammates again, so that will be cool.”

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