2019 M. NCAA Previews: Four-Way Platform Showdown In Men’s Diving

2019 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

1-METER SPRINGBOARD

The last two champions and last year’s first and second place finishers are graduated out of this event in Michael Hixon and Steele Johnson. That leaves Indiana’s James Connor as the top returner. Connor has been on a roll this year, winning Big Tens and the tough Zone C in this event, and looks like a good bet to ascend to the title. His top competition is Tennessee’s Colin Zengwho was 4th last year and just three points back of Connor.

Connor has been more consistent on this board – he was 3rd in both 2017 and 2018 – while Zeng has been more up-and-down. Zeng was 3rd in 2016, faded to 8th in ’17 and charged back to 4th last year.

The wild card is Miami’s Briadam Herrerawho returns from a medical redshirt to rejoin the NCAA this season. Herrera was 5th in 2017, behind Connor and ahead of Zeng. He was an A finalist in both 2015 and 2016, and should be at least a top 3 finisher this year after blowing out Zeng at the Zone B meet.

Texas sophomore Jordan Windle looks to be only getting better after placing 5th as an NCAA rookie. Windle had the highest score at Big 12s (though he dove exhibition for some reason) and finished 4th in this event in a brutal Zone D.

Three others return from last year’s A final: Sam Thornton of Texas A&M, Juan Hernandez of LSU and Grayson Campbell of Texas. All three rose into the A final for the first time last year. Hernandez beat Thornton at SECs, for what it’s worth. (It’s hard to project diving through the conference rounds, but it’s at least one data point from this season).

Indiana’s Andrew Capobianco looks like the best bet to unseat one of the three. He finished 2nd to teammate Connor at Big Tens and Zone Cs, and both have looked on fire so far this season. Capobianco was a huge freshman contributor last year, making A finals on both other boards. He finished 9th in prelims of this event by just over one point in his first-ever NCAA event. It’s fair to project him to be a bit more on-his-game for 1-meter this year.

Others to watch for: Purdue’s Joseph Cifelli was 6th in this event in 2017, but missed the A final and slid to 16th last year. Stanford freshman Conor Casey looks like an impact pickup: he won Zone E and finished second at the UCLA Invite this season. But he didn’t have a great showing in this event at Pac-12s, and when he went up against better competition at the Ohio State Invite mid-season, he finished just 9th behind a bunch of NCAA qualifiers but not returning scorers. There are a bunch of scorers returning out of the B final from last year, too: Virginia Tech’s Ben Schiesl, Texas’s Jacob CornishPenn State’s Hector Garcia and Duke’s Evan Moretti.

Top 8 Picks:

Place Diver Team 2018 Finish
1 James Connor Indiana 3rd
2 Colin Zeng Tennessee 4th
3 Briadam Herrera Miami redshirt
4 Jordan Windle Texas 5th
5 Andrew Capobianco Indiana 11th
6 Juan Hernandez LSU 7th
7 Sam Thornton Texas A&M 6th
8 Grayson Campell Texas 8th

3-METER SPRINGBOARD

On 3-meter, Tennessee’s Colin Zeng returns after taking second last year – he was four points behind champion Steele Johnson, now turned pro. The redshirt returner, though, is again Briadam Herrerawho was the runner-up to Johnson on this board in 2017.

Those two should again spar for the title. The last time they went head-to-head at NCAAs, Zeng was relegated to the B final, where he won before Herrera took second in the A final.

LSU’s Juan Hernandez has been a steady finisher at the top in both of his NCAA campaigns. He was 3rd as a freshman and 4th last year as a sophomore.

Texas has a pair of threats. Jordan Windle is best at platform, but is an outstanding diver on all three boards. He was 5th as a freshman last year and only figures to move up from there after winning Zone D over Hernandez. Meanwhile Grayson Campbell has been in the A final in both of his NCAA seasons: 8th as a freshman and 7th last year.

They’ll essentially jockey for position with two big-time Indiana divers in a battle that could shape the NCAA team title hunt. Indiana went 1-2 in Zone C in a lights-out performance. James Connor looks outstanding after taking 6th last year. He’s practically unbeaten this year, with wins at Big Tens, the IU Invite and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, not to mention 1-meter and 3-meter titles over Windle at the Texas-Indiana-Florida tri meet early in the year.

And sophomore Andrew Capobianco returns – he was 8th last year, but was sitting 4th coming out of prelims last year before struggling in the final. He was second at both Big Tens and Zone Cs, well ahead of the rest of the field.

Others to keep an eye on: Penn State’s Hector Garcia has steadily moved up in this event: 18th in 2016, 16th in 2017 and 9th last year. He beat Texas A&M’s duo of Sam Thornton and Kurtis Mathews in the B final last year, and both Aggies return. In addition UNC freshman standout Greg Duncan was 11th last year, but transferred to storied diving program Purdue this season. He’s another big threat – he was 4th in the tough Zone C.

Top 8 Picks:

Place Diver Team 2018 Finish
1 Colin Zeng Tennessee 2nd
2 Briadam Herrera Miami redshirt
3 Juan Hernandez LSU 4th
4 Jordan Windle Texas 5th
5 James Connor Indiana 6th
6 Andrew Capobianco Indiana 8th
7 Grayson Campell Texas 7th
8 Hector Garcia Penn State 9th

PLATFORM

Platform should be the highlight of the diving events: six of the top 8 from last year return, including four huge names who battled for the top four spots last year.

Colin Zeng of Tennessee is the returning champ, but 2017 champ David Dinsmore is also in the mix for Miami. Dinsmore was just fourth last year, but had an incredible 2017 run. While scoring isn’t exactly consistent year-to-year, Dinsmore put up an absurd 528.20 points in 2017 to beat Olympian Steele Johnson. That’s more than 60 points better than Zeng’s 2018 winning score (466.35).

Two freshmen contended for the title last year, as well. Texas’s Jordan Windle was the top prelims qualifier by a landslide, scoring 10 more points than Dinsmore. He didn’t quite stick his dives the same in the final, though, and faded 20 points to finish second, just six behind Zeng. Meanwhile Indiana’s Andrew Capobianco put together his best showing of his rookie year, taking third ahead of Dinsmore.

Minnesota’s Nick Yang also had a stellar finals round, improving his prelims score by almost 40 points to take fifth. All five of those top divers return.

Miami also returns Zach Cooperwho was 7th in that final as a freshman.

Keep an eye on Purdue’s Brandon Loschiavothough, who has been on fire this year. Loschiavo won the mid-season Texas Invite, beating Zeng and Windle head-to-head by 20+ points. He also smashed the Big Ten field by an incredible 60 points – that field included Capobianco and Yang. Loschiavo missed the A final last year, but won the B final with a score that would’ve been third overall.

Purdue went 1-2 in Zone C, with freshman Benjamin Bramley second to Loschiavo. He’s a real A final threat as a rookie, as is Michigan sophomore Ross Todd, who bested Bramley by 0.2 points for second at Big Tens.

Texas also has Jacob Cornishwho was 11th last year. Much of that B final will return, including Duke’s Nathaniel Hernandez, Ohio State’s Aaron Daniels-Freeman and LSU’s Juan HernandezMinnesota’s Alan LeBlang could be another scoring threat, along with Ohio State’s Jacob Siler and Christopher Law, who was a scorer in 2017 before missing out in 20th last year.

Top 8 Picks:

Place Diver Team 2018 Finish
1 David Dinsmore Miami 4th
2 Jordan Windle Texas 2nd
3 Colin Zeng Tennessee 1st
4 Brandon Loschiavo Purdue 9th
5 Andrew Capobianco Indiana 3rd
6 Nick Yang Minnesota 5th
7 Zach Cooper Miami 7th
8 Jacob Cornish Texas 11th

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B1G fan

This is an excellant analysis, Jared. I can’t wait to watch!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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