Courtesy: USA Diving
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – The 2023 USA Diving Winter National Championships kicked off Wednesday with finals in two mixed synchronized diving events.
Their wins qualified them to represent the United States at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar next February.
Duperre and O’Neil scored 291.78 points to win their first mixed synchro title in four tries. Jack Ryan and Krysta Palmer were second at 282.87, and Luke Forester and Sophie Verzyl took bronze at 255.51.
“We’ve been so close so many times. We’ve been on the podium three times before, but we’ve always gotten bronze,” Duperre said. “I think the difference between now and the other times, before we were just kind of doing it and seeing what would happen. This time we went in with the mentality that we can win this.”
Duperre and O’Neil, teammates at the University of Texas, scored 61.38 points or higher on all three of their optional dives, highlighted by 69.30 points on an inward 2 ½ pike.
“I think we’re really lucky to be on the same team and be able to train together. That really helps us out,” O’Neil said. “We have a lot of fun. It’s really nice to see our work pay off.”
Wills won a pair of medals in the 10-meter synchro contest while competing with two partners. He and Cranford scored 288.96 for gold, and Wills also picked up silver with 281.94 points while diving with Daryn Wright. Zach Cooper and Katrina Young were third at 268.02.
“It was exhausting, really. I was running the entire time and pretty much out of breath, but I felt pretty good about it. It actually felt like practice, not too much pressure,” Wills said.
Wills and Cranford had the highest degree of difficulty in the 10-meter contest and scored 73.44 points on a reverse 3 ½ tuck and added 69.12 points on a back 2 ½ with 1 ½ twists.
“I felt really good about it. I kind of went into like this was a fun event to get the nerves out for my other events, and it ended up going really well,” said Cranford, who is slated to compete all three individual events later in the championships.
The USA Diving Winter National Championships continue through December 6. Thursday’s competition features women’s synchronized 10-meter and men’s synchronized 3-meter finals.