Windle wins gold to lead Team USA on day two of Junior Pan Ams

TUCSON, Ariz. – Led by a gold medal from Jordan Windle (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Indianapolis, Ind.) in the 14-15 boys platform event, Team USA won four medals Friday at the UANA Junior Pan American Championships to bring its two-day total to eight medals with two days of competition remaining.

Maggie Merriman (Orlando, Fla.) won silver on platform in the 12-13 girls age group, while Nikki Watters (Rohnert Park, Calif./New Albany, Ohio) and Jackson Miller (Southlake, Texas) came away with bronze. Watters won her medal on 1-meter in the 14-15 girls age group, with Miller’s coming on 3-meter in the 11-and-under boys age group.

Windle won his platform gold medal with 433.80 points, highlighted by 84.15 points on his back 3 ½ tuck, to claim the gold in his first Junior Pan Ams. Canada’s Felix Leathead scored 406.55 points for the silver, and Mexico’s Juan Celaya, who won the 1-meter gold on Thursday, was third at 383.95. USA’s Grayson Campbell (Vienna, Va.) finished ninth.

“I was nervous because this was my first Pan Ams, but it was really exciting. It was a great experience and a lot of fun,” Windle said. “I was trying to smile (during the national anthem), but my face hurt so much from the chlorine. Still, it felt great to stand at the top of the podium like that.”

In the 12-13 girls platform contest, Merriman scored 257.80 points to edge Mexico’s Ana Celaya by seven-tenths of a point to claim the silver medal in her first Junior Pan Ams. Mexico’s Gabriela Agundez took the gold at 290.75. Emily Grund (Keller, Texas) finished fifth.

“It was so much fun diving and having my teammates cheer me on. I actually didn’t have any expectations for today. I just wanted to go out and do my best and have fun. I don’t know that it was a personal best point-wise, but I had fun so I reached my goal,” Merriman said.

Watters, who won Junior Pan Am gold on 1-meter in the 12-13 age group two years ago, scored 306.05 points to take the 1-meter bronze in the 14-15 age group. Canada’s Caeli McKay finished first with 334.60 points, and Mexico’s Samanta Jiminez was second at 306.05. Brooke Schultz (Fayetteville, Ark.) was fifth.

Miller made his Junior Pan Am debut with 233.35 points for bronze in the 11-and-under boys 3-meter contest, finishing third behind Mexico’s Randal Willars (269. 05) and Yoloti Martinez (261.75). Kevin Mendez (Lighthouse Point, Fla.) finished seventh.

Mexico also went 1-2 in the 16-18 girls 3-meter contest as Dolores Hernandez won her second gold medal in two days after winning 1-meter on Thursday. Hernandez scored 462.70 points for the 3-meter, with teammate Carolina Mendoza scoring 438.70 for silver. Canada’s Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu was third with 394.35 points. Emma Villarreal (McGregor, Texas) and Mackenzie Willborn (Flower Mound, Texas) were fifth and sixth.

Rodrigo Diego of Mexico scored 524.05 points for gold in the 16-18 boys 1-meter contest, with silver going to Canada’s Philippe Gagne at 504.80. Venezuela’s Jesus Liranzo rounded out the medalists with 490.75 points for bronze. David Dinsmore (New Albany, Ohio) and Bradley Christensen (Southlake, Texas/Stanford, Calif.) were eighth and ninth for Team USA.

The Junior Pan American Championships continue through Sunday, September 29. Saturday’s competition features the 11-and-under girls on 1-meter, the 14-15 girls on 3-meter, the 11-and-under boys on platform, the 12-13 girls on 1-meter, the 12-13 boys on 3-meter, the 14-18 boys on synchronized 3-meter and the 16-18 girls on platform.

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