Courtesy: USA Diving
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia – Brandon Loschiavo won men’s 10-meter and Sarah Bacon won women’s 3-meter as the 2023 USA Diving National Championships wrapped up Wednesday.
Their wins also qualified each of them for a second event at this summer’s World Aquatics Championships.
Hailey Hernandez and Max Flory finished second in their respective events to also earn spots on the World Championships team.
Bacon, Loschiavo and Hernandez had already qualified for the world team in other events, as Bacon won gold in synchronized 3-meter, Loschiavo won men’s synchronized 10-meter and Hernandez took the 1-meter title earlier in the week.
In Wednesday’s 10-meter contest, Loschiavo won gold with 950.90 points over two lists of dives. Flory finished second with 914.55 points, and Joshua Hedberg was third with 881.40 points.
Loschiavo was in third place, 9.45 points out of first, after Monday’s semifinals. Those scores carried over into the finals.
Loschiavo moved into second place after scoring 81.60 points on his first-round dive, an inward 3 ½ tuck, and then took the lead after 86.40 points on his second dive, an armstand double back somersault with 2 ½ twists.
Still, the contest remained close through four rounds. Heading into round five, just 6.9 points separated first from third. All three divers were performing a front 4 ½ tuck in the fifth round, and Loschiavo came through with 94.50 points to widen his lead. Flory scored 72.15 points and Hedberg received 42.55 points.
“I kind of wanted to feel that heat a little bit. I started the first cumulative round pretty badly, and so I wanted to lock in and feel like I was behind the whole time. I thrive under that pressure, and so I liked the challenge,” Loschiavo said. “The whole goal was just shutting my mind off for every single dive. I know how to do every single one, so putting all the pieces together was my goal.”
The women’s 3-meter contest was just as close. Ultimately, Bacon came out ahead with 636.95 points in two lists of dives. Hernandez scored 602.95 points to edge Krysta Palmer, who finished third at 597.45. Less than 10 points separated first from third heading into Wednesday finals.
“I try to not let that get into my head. I knew after semifinals I had about an eight-point lead coming into finals, so I just told myself everything starts over. An eight-point lead is not much. If you try and focus too much on that then it’s going to mess you up, so I just start over from scratch,” Bacon said. “My body knows what to do with my dives and I just go out there and perform the best that I can. There are still some things I can work on when it comes to my diving, but overall I’m very happy with how I did.”
Bacon’s lead was still less than eight points with two rounds to go in the finals. She responded with her two highest-scoring dives of the day. Bacon scored 68.20 points on her fourth-round front 3 ½ pike and finished with 70.50 points on her front 2 ½ with one twist to extend her lead.
Hernandez went into the last round with a 7.1-point lead over Palmer, but Palmer had an edge in difficulty. Palmer dover first and came through with 64.60 points on the more difficult front 2 ½ with two twists, but Hernandez followed with 63 points on her front 2 ½ with one twists to hold on to the silver medal and the spot on the world team.
The World Aquatics Championships begin July 14 in Fukuoka, Japan and will be the first opportunity for countries to secure their quota spots for the 2024 Olympic Games.
The Baconator is on another level right now! Hope she carries this into the Olympic year!