Kassidy Cook, Kevin Chavez Banda Win Gold on Day One of FINA World Junior Diving Championships

TUCSON, Arizona, September 2. KASSIDY Cook (The Woodlands, Texas) won gold and Kristian Ipsen (Clayton, Calif.) won bronze to give Team USA a pair of medals on Wednesday, the opening day of the six-day FINA World Junior Diving Championships. Cook placed first in the girls Group B (14-15) 1-meter final, and Ipsen was third in the boys group A (16-18) 3-meter event.

Cook scored 376.85 points to win her first junior world title. China's Luo Ying and Sun Mengchen finished second and third with 362.95 and 348.05 points, respectively.

"I'm at a loss for words. I can't even contain it. I'm so happy right right," said Cook, who had won gold on 1-meter at the last three Junior Pan American Championships before winning gold in her first Junior World competition.

Cook also finished first in the morning preliminaries, which meant she was the last diver to dive in the finals.

"I knew I had to watch the other divers go before me, so I had some pressure on me but I usually do well in those situations," Cook said. "I thought the Chinese and Russian divers were diving really well. Luckily I was able to block that out and stay focused."

USA's Gracia Leydon-Mahoney (Newton, Mass.) also advanced to the finals and finished eighth with 312.80 points.

Ipsen scored 565.20 points in the 3-meter final to finish behind gold medalist Kevin Chavez Banda of Mexico (580.30 points) and silver medalist Li Jincong of China (574.45).

Ipsen bounced back from a disappointing sixth-place showing in the preliminaries to come through with another junior world bronze medal.

"I was not happy with prelims, so I knew I had to get it together and come back strong," said Ipsen, who also won a bronze on 3-meter at the 2006 junior world meet. "I was happy with my final. Everything was solid except my gainer. I've been having problems with that dive this week, and I'm usually pretty consistent. I'm happy I didn't let it affect me and that I could still do my last dive well enough to make it on the podium."

Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass.) advanced to the finals as well and scored 516.05 to place 10th.

Ipsen and Hixon will pair up in the synchronized 3-meter final on Thursday. Thursday's competition also features Leydon-Mahoney and Murphy Bromberg (Bexley, Ohio) in girls group B platform and Cherie Hammond (Windermere, Fla.) and Kathryn Connolly (San Antonio, Texas) in girls group A 1-meter.

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