BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Four divers with Indiana University ties were entered in the USA Diving World Championship Individual Trials, and four will be heading to Kazan, Russia after the final day of competition Sunday at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center.
Former IU All-American Amy Cozad and rising sophomore Jessica Parratto finished 1-2 in the platform competition, while rising junior Michael Hixon and former IU All-American Darian Schmidt went 1-2 on the 3-meter springboard.
Cozad tallied a score of 1017.05 to take the top platform spot at trials, finishing just eight points ahead of fellow Hoosier Parratto (1009.25).
Consistency was the key for Cozad as she scored fewer than 52 points on just one of her 15 dives over the three rounds of action. Cozad’s best scoring dive on Sunday came on her arm stand back 2 somersault 1 1/2 twist free with a score of 75.20.
“Consistency is the name of the game,” Cozad said. “That is how you get to finals. Having having that (scoring) gap from the first day gave me a lot of confidence, but this morning I was freaking out a little bit. (Coach) Drew (Johansen) and I worked through it together, and together we won.”
Parratto had a strong final session, finishing within eight points of Cozad. The rising IU sophomore’s best score came on her final dive of the day, scoring 72 points on a back 2 1/2 somersault 1 1/2 twist in the pike position. Parratto was awarded 70 or more points on three of her five dives in the final.
“This year has been a really good learning experience in trying to peak at the right time,” Parratto said. “It has been a long season but so much fun. I think I set myself up well for this meet.”
In addition to the platform competition, Cozad and Parratto already qualified for the World Championships as partners in the platform synchro event.
“It’s not just that (Jessica) is an IU kid, but she is also my synchro partner” Cozad said. “We are a team and we are going to be a team. It was great to be able to do this with her.”
Hixon and Schmidt were in the second and third spots heading into today’s final round. Hixon’s lowest scoring dive of the day came on his first, scoring 60 points on a back 2 1/2 somersault pike.
From there he shut the door on the competition, highlighted by three-straight dives scoring 90 or more points. He tallied 91 points on a reverse 1 1/2 somersault 3 1/2 twist, 94.50 points on a reverse 3 1/2 somersault tuck, and the big one, a career-best score of 102.60 on his forward 4 1/2 somersault tuck.
“I knew it was going to be good, up around 100 points,” Hixon said. “But as of a week and a half ago we weren’t going to use that dive. But coach said you have to believe in that one. And it paid off.”
He finished with a three-round score of 1352.30. His score of 502.80 on his final six-dive list is a personal best.
“I was in a pretty big hole after prelims but you can’t give up,” Hixon said. “This is my first time over 500 (points in a competition). I have been flirting with that number and to finally get over it is big.”
Hixon had already qualified for the world team earlier on the 1-meter springboard.
Schmidt had some ground to make up sitting in third place entering the final round. He showed the same consistency that had gotten him into the top three, scoring no lower than 70.50 on any of his six dives Sunday.
“We just both stuck with it and took things one dive at a time,” Schmidt said. “We didn’t get ahead of ourselves and dove as best as we could.”
Like Hixon it was Schmidt’s forward 4 1/2 somersault tuck that was a difference maker, scoring 91.20 points on the dive and finishing with a score of 1304.45. This will be the first major international competition for Schmidt.
“Drew has really helped me get to the next level,” Schmidt said. “And I have matured as a person and an athlete. Combining that with Drew’s knowledge has really helped me.”
One thing that all the Indiana divers had going for them was a partisan crowd cheering them on.
“It was nice to have all the support we had,” Schmidt said. “It was pretty cool to come out of the water and hear the roars for me and Mike.”
Rising sophomore James Connor, who will represent his native Australia at the World Championships, will join these four Hoosiers July 24-August 2 in Kazan, Russia.
Swimming news courtesy of Indiana Diving.