Indiana Diving Continues Dominance at Speedo National Championships
July 27, 2004
Mission Viejo, Calif.- The Indiana diving program continued its dominance on the national scene, claiming the program's 11th consecutive U.S. Combined (men and women) National Championship. The men's and women's programs combined to outdistance second-place Auburn by over 100 points.
The women's program also repeated as national champions for the sixth straight year and seventh overall in winning the women's team title over Team Orlando. The men improved a spot from last year's performance as they placed second overall in the men's team race. The second-place performance by the Hoosiers is the best since winning the title in 1998.
The Hoosiers had five US National Team members in Sara Hildebrand, Cassandra Cardinell, Lindsay Weigle, Marc Carlton and Brian Mariano. In order to make the National Team, an individual must place in the top six of an individual event or be a member of one of the top two placing synchro teams.
"We had some really great performances at nationals," Indiana head diving coach Dr. Jeff Huber said. "We qualified 12 divers for individual events and another three individuals for synchro teams. We had 12 individuals come home as national finalists by competing in the finals of at least one event at the championships. We also had five divers make the US National Team, which is the most we have ever had. To have a third of your team make a national team is pretty good."
For the third time in as many years, former Hoosier All-American and 2004 Olympian Sara Hildebrand captured the All-Around Performance Award. The award is given to the individual who accumulates the most points through all the events performed the at the Speedo Championships. For the second time in three of those years, Cassandra Cardinell was runner up behind her Hoosier teammate for the award.
"Sara and I are both really proud of that honor because it not only shows that she is a great diver, but an outstanding diver in every event," Huber said. "Sara and Cassandra picked up some really big points for us and really helped us win the team title. Cassandra was runner up, and it just shows how good of a diver she is as well. It was really a close contest between those two."
For the second consecutive year, the duo of Hildebrand and Cardinell swept the synchro events at the Speedo National Diving Championships. The pair won the synchro three-meter on Saturday and capped off the Championships with a victory in the synchro platform event. The duo scored 287.22 points and easily outdistanced their second-place competition by over 50 points. The pair of Cardinell and Hildebrand won the synchro platform event at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials to earn a spot on the Olympic Team.
"Sara and Cassandra were a little bit off on their dives at nationals," Huber said. "Part of that was that they really weren't pushed in the event, but another is that they compete in all five events. Now that the nationals are over, we will really start to focus on the platform in preparation for Athens."
Sophomore Lindsay Weigle teamed with Heather Bounds of Woodlands Diving Team to place third in the event. The duo scored 216.30 and moved up a spot from their placing in the preliminary round. Redshirt freshman Jade Summerlin and sophomore Heather Chapman rounded out the Hoosier contingent in the event placing fourth with a score of 208.71.
"I am proud of Lindsay," Huber said. "That is the first time she has ever dove in an individual final at nationals and she made the national team. To do that on the first try is really good."
Hildebrand, Cardinell and Weigle competed in the finals of the women's 10-meter platform event as well on the final day of the event. Hildebrand took runner up in the event behind fellow 2000 and 2004 Olympian Laura Wilkinson.
Hildebrand led after the second round of the finals by just under four points. Wilkinson responded, outscoring Hildebrand over her final three dives, including 91.80 points on her final dive. Wilkinson won the event with a score of 578.37, while Hildebrand was second at 523.53. Wilkinson won the gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Hildebrand narrowly missed the finals in 2000 as she placed 13th.The top 12 in the event advanced to the finals.
Hoosier All-American Cardinell took fourth in the event. She scored 454.38 points and at one point in the competition ranked as high as third. Weigle finished sixth overall with a score of 405.27.
On the men's side, the Hoosier duo of senior Marc Carlton and sophomore Brian Mariano placed second in the synchro three-meter event on the final day of the Championships. The duo scored 260.88 points and trailed only 2004 Olympic pair of Troy and Justin Dumais. The Hoosier tandem actually led the event by over two points following their first required dive.
"Brian is a year a way from really doing well at this competition," Huber said. "He got some compliments here. We just need to keep his back healthy and get some more training done. He really stepped up and did his best dives during the synchro events."
Indiana team manager Michael Penn and volunteer assistant coach Oscar Delgado placed fifth overall in the event with a score of 250.08. After qualifying for the finals, the Hoosier pair of Jesse Rappaport and Taylor Roberts had to scratch because of injury following the completion of their opening required dive.
The Hoosier men placed two individuals among the top eight in the three-meter springboard final. Carlton placed fifth overall in the event, while 2004 All-American junior Ryan Fagan was eighth. 2004 Olympian on the three-meter, Troy Dumais, won the event with a score of 707.07.
Carlton was second following the opening optional dive of the finals, trailing Duamis by just over 30 points. He maintained third position through the first four optional dives of the finals but struggled over his final two. He finished with 534.03 points.
"Marc did a great job." Huber said. "He was a little off in the beginning, but he made it to the finals of four out of the five events. He may have been the only male diver at the championships to do that. Marc is capable of winning a national title. Troy is a 2004 Olympian and was really diving well, so I don't know that Marc could have beaten him on the three-meter, but he could have gotten second."
The Hoosier tandem of Hildebrand and Cardinell will now be off to Athens to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games. The Women's Synchronized 10-meter Platform event will be held on August 16. Hildebrand will also compete in the preliminaries of the 10-meter platform competition on August 20. The semifinals of that event will be on August 21 with the finals on August 22.
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