Before Gabby Mauder and Caitlyn Greenwalt took their first dives in the finals at the state meet on Saturday, they prepared for the moment.
The two of them were exchanging high-fives, hugs, smiles and laughs as they soaked in the moment together.
The two Woodbury divers were more than just teammates on Saturday night. They were friends.
After their dives on Saturday, the two of them stood on the podium as Mauder won third place and Greenwalt finished in fifth place. This was the first time for either of them to reach the podium in their diving careers.
That friendship has been built for the last number of years and it’s established a trust and a consistent push to make these two divers the best in Woodbury history.
The Royals have had a handful of legendary divers, but sophomore Greenwalt and eighth-grader Mauder have plenty of years to etch their names into the record books.
“It’s special to know that we’re a part of a program with this much history,” Mauder said. “I’ve learned so much these first couple of years and it’s going to push me for the future.”
The two of them started off as gymnasts and loved doing backflips and somersaults. It was a sport they were passionate about at a young age.
Even though the two of them were at the same gym, they never knew each other. They were on different teams and didn’t realize they would become close friends a few years later.
After a handful of years in gymnastics, they wanted to try something else. They knew there was more than just gymnastics and this was a chance for them to explore more options.
During their sixth and seventh grade years, Mauder and Greenwalt participated in a diving class with a community program. This gave them the chance to see the ins and outs of diving.
“You were still able to do flips and turns and stuff just like gymnastics,” Greenwalt said. “You just land in water instead of on a mat. After my first dive, I loved diving and wanted to focus on this sport.”
In their seventh-grade year, both of them came onto the Woodbury girls’ swimming and diving team. Instead of intimidated as young divers, they were excited to learn from the veterans and develop their skills early in their career.
Mauder and Greenwalt said they first realized the success of the Woodbury diving program from looking at the records on the board in the pool. They saw the different scores as well as the trips to the state meet.
This just made them more excited because they wanted to be on that board someday as well.
“I was the one that asked the most questions on the team in my first couple years and I still ask plenty of questions,” Greenwalt said. “I’m always curious about becoming better as a diver and I look up to my coaches and older divers for advice.”
The two of them quit gymnastics within their first year of being with the Royals and devoted their time and energy to being the best diver possible. That mentality showed in the state diving finals on Saturday night at Jean K Freeman Aquatics Center on the University of Minnesota campus.
Mauder and Greenwalt were the only two divers that weren't seniors in the top five of the state meet. Mauder finished in third place with a score of 378.80, while Greenwalt ended up in fifth place with a score of 357.10.
The majority of the divers that reached the finals on Saturday were juniors and seniors, so the two Royals are being looked at as the leaders for the future.
The two of them were already good friends when Mauder came to the program in seventh grade, but their friendship grew more last year when Greenwalt joined her club team during the off season.
Mauder and Greenwalt are a part of the Minnesota Diving Academy, which they practice at the Jean K Freeman Aquatics Center. With the club team and the high school team, these two girls see each other every weekday for the entire year.
"We aren't sick of each other yet," Mauder said jokingly. "It's been a lot of fun having someone there pushing you to be your best each day during the entire year."
Over the past two years, these two have been competing for Woodbury and they agreed that there's friendly competition. They push each other to be their best and that can lead to new dives or more challenging dives they couldn't expect to do.
Greenwalt and Mauder said each of them will come into a practice with an idea of what dives they will work on. Then, one of them will do a dive that the other wants to try and it becomes a practice of them trying to perfect the same dive.
It's a fun atmosphere for the two of them and they agreed that it helps them become the best diver they can be. This help has allowed them to reach the state meet together for the past two seasons and they hope for at least two more until Greenwalt graduates.
"It's always nice to have a friend and teammate at state with you, especially in the same event," Greenwalt said. "The support that we have from each other, our coaches, our teammates and family and friends, helps make meets less stressful and more fun."
Now, the two of them will look to continue their success until they graduate. They want to help the other divers on Woodbury's team to keep this success in the diving program.
As for Greenwalt and Mauder, they already made their stamp in the Woodbury history books. For them, it's an honor to be in the discussion with the Woodbury divers that came before them.
Those divers include Megan Miller, Erica Schiffler, Jenna Kotlarz, Erin Kolbeck, Emily Bonfig, Holly Johannsen and Heidi Lundervold. Miller holds the top score in diving for Woodbury with 481.30, while Mauder is right behind her with a score of 473.05.
These two are ready to continue showing that success of Woodbury diving for years to come.
"It's special," Mauder said. "It's amazing to think that we're part of this history with Woodbury diving. It's just an honor and I know both of us are really proud to be a Royal."