Strong Finishes At USA Diving Junior Nationals

Denny Gulia-Janovski 2
Photo Courtesy: USA Diving

By Erin Keaveny, Swimming World Contributor.

The 2018 USA Diving Junior National Championship wrapped up in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, August 4, 2018 after a full week of competition.

This year, 174 divers were entered in the meet across four age groups.

Most divers who competed qualified in one of six zone meets held earlier in the season. Others were pre-qualified for the meet as members of the High Performance Squad, or as YMCA national champions.

Competition at Junior Nationals features one-meter springboard, three-meter springboard, and platform. Platform heights can vary from five-meter to ten-meter depending on the divers’ age and list.

Commonly, the most competitive age group category is 16 to 18, for boys and girls. Many of these divers have aspirations to compete at the senior national, NCAA, and Olympic level in coming years. In addition, many of the tier three high performance squad members compete in this age group.

In the final rounds, the divers are scored on five optional dives. That score is added to the diver’s score from the semi-final round to reach their final score.

The first 16 to 18 age group events to finish was girls one-meter, and boys three-meter, on Thursday, August 2.

On one-meter, Samantha Vear, from Conroe Diving Club finished in the top spot with a final score of 467.45. Her front two-and-a-half pike (105B) was her highest scoring dive in finals. Bridget O’Neil, a High Performance Squad member from GC Diving came in second with 459.40 points.

Conor Casey from Alexandria Dive Club won boys three-meter with 607.95 points. His reverse three-and-a-half tuck (307C) earned nines from the judges, totaling over 90 points, one of the meets highest scores. Casey is committed to dive for Stanford in the fall. Despite his high scoring dive, Casey finished less than four points ahead of Jacob Fielding, an Ohio State commit, who had a strong and consistent list.

On Friday, August 3, 16 to 18 girls platform and boys one-meter wrapped up.

Aliyah Watson, a High Performance Squad member from Fort Lauderdale Diving Team, won the gold on platform with 495.15 points. In an impressive showing, both her reverse two-and-a-half tuck (305C) from 10-meter and her back two-and-a-half with one-and-a-half twists pike (5253B) from ten-meter were awarded more than 70 points. Johanna Holloway, a fellow high performance squad member came in second.

For the boys, Lyle Yost, a high performance squad member from American Flyers Diving, came out on top with 567.35 points. His highest scoring dive in finals, his full twisting two-and-a-half pike (5152B) was awarded 76.8 points. Fielding earned his second silver medal in the event.

Finally on Saturday, August 4, girls three-meter and boys platform were the final events of the meet.

Anne Fowler, a high performance squad member from Alexandria Dive Club, took the last gold medal for her age group, with 505.70 points on three-meter. Fowler’s superb final dive, a full twisting two-and-a-half pike (5152B) earned 8s from the judges, totaling 70.50 points. O’Neil came in second behind her, earning her second silver of the meet.

Yost won his second gold medal on platform by a decisive 42.25 points, with a total score of 550.15. His reverse two-and-a-half tuck (305C) from 10-meter earned him more than 71 points. Emmanuel Vazquez from YFC Diving Team came in second place.