NCAA Women’s Championships: Aranza Vazquez Montano Golden on 1-Meter

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Women’s Championships: Aranza Vazquez Montano Golden on 1-Meter

Aranza Vazquez Montano couldn’t contain her joy while being interviewed on ESPN Thursday night at the NCAA Championships. The choice of words to express her feelings about winning the 1-meter diving event was, shall we say, colorful in a way that the FCC will not appreciate.

But when you understand the journey the University of North Carolina junior has taken, the release of emotion is entirely understandable.

Vazquez Montano had won every medal short of gold at NCAAs in two years, then led wire-to-wire to get that gold medal with a score of 358.75 points. She’s the first diver in program history to win NCAA gold.

The pathway to the top step of the podium was much more for the Mexican Olympian than just finishing second in this event in 2021 (to go with silver on 3-meter) and third in 2022. She took the 2022 summer international season off as she coped with what she termed a post-Olympic depression, needing to fall in love with the sport again.

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Aranza Vazquez Montano; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The release of emotion when she hit the water after her final dive at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville knowing that she’d won gold told the tale.

“It means a lot,” she said. “Last year was so hard mentally, coming out of the Olympics, I went through Olympic depression. It was just hard to keep going, really hard to love diving and love competing. I’m just really proud of myself and really excited, really happy.”

Delaney Schnell edged out Mia Vallee for silver, the Arizona senior scoring 340.05. Vallee, a senior from the University of Miami, entered as the defending champion, having set the NCAA record last year. She earned bronze this year at 338.10.

Vazquez Montano was one of four Tokyo Olympians in the championship final. She’s likely not the only one who felt some version of the post-Olympic crash. Instead of pushing herself last summer internationally, the native of La Paz, Mexico, spent nearly two months at home, resetting herself emotionally and refocusing for the competition ahead. Understanding how much she missed the sport was an essential part of her getting back on the board.

“I really missed that adrenaline and that excitement of accomplishing my goals and being where I wanted to be,” she said. “It definitely helped me stepping back and seeing what my goals were this year.”

The championship final featured divers from four countries. Vazquez Montano set the pace in prelims with Vallee second. American Olympians Hailey Hernandez and Schnell were in medal contention throughout.

The final belonged to Vazquez Montano. Her fourth-round gainer 1.5 was a big confidence boost. She hit the board for Round 6, with a high degree of difficult reverse two-and-a-half, needing just 5s to win the title. She knew as soon as she hit the water that she’d done enough.

“I was trying to tell myself that I’ve done those dives so many times,” Vazquez Montano said. “So many times I’ve done them really good that it was nothing different than practice. I was just trying to keep myself calm, trust myself, and trust what my coach was telling me.”

Schnell was the big mover in finals, qualifying fourth and rising to second. Kyndal Knight of Kentucky was third in prelims but ended up seventh, the senior struggling in the final round.

Hernandez finished fourth for Texas, which adds 15 points to the Longhorns’ tally. Bridget O’Neil finished 11th to chip in six more. Virginia was shutout in the event, Elizabeth Kaye just outside the scorers in 17th place.

wo years, then led wire-to-wire to get that gold medal with a score of 358.75 points. She’s the first diver in program history to win NCAA gold.

Event 6  Women 1 mtr Diving
=========================================================================
         NCAA: N 365.75  3/17/2022 Mia Vallee, Miami (FL)
         Meet: M 365.75  3/17/2022 Mia Vallee, Miami (Florida)
         Pool: P 364.30  2/15/2017 Lauren Reedy, Missouri
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
=========================================================================
                       === Championship Final ===                        
 
  1 Aranza Vazquez Montano JR UNC                325.80     358.75   20  
  2 Schnell, Delaney       SR Arizona            311.15     340.05   17  
  3 Vallee, Mia            SR Miami (FL)         315.45     338.10   16  
  4 Hernandez, Hailey      SO Texas              303.15     321.05   15  
  5 Pellacani, Chiara      SO LSU                297.50     318.55   14  
  6 Sculti, Carolina       SR USC                288.25     312.90   13  
  7 Knight, Kyndal         SR Kentucky           315.00     304.55   12  
  8 Zhu, Joy               SR Minnesota          297.15     297.35   11

 

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