The diving program out of the Woodlands, Texas is one of the top high school programs in the country, and they produce big-time Division 1 talent on a yearly basis. Any diving coach in the country should put that program on the schedule of their annual recruiting rounds. This year’s group is heavily leaning towards the female side, but it’s a strong group that before long should make a big impact at the NCAA Championships.
The Stanford Cardinal women had a tough year at this year’s NCAA Championships in the three diving events; they only scored 11 points (all on the 1-meter from Stephanie Phipps) after getting 32 from the combination of Meg Hostage and Phipps the year before. But they’ve made a strong recruiting statement to get back into the points column with the signing of Kelly Markle. Markle took 3rd in the 2012 Texas State Championship meet, after winning it as a junior, with an 11-dive score of 514.25. She was also named the NISCA mythical high school National Champion during that junior year.
She dives all three disciplines, though the 1-meter is her best event, and she’s good enough to score there as a freshman.
Here’s the thing about diving out of the Woodlands. There’s a big group of awesome divers coming from the Academy, but they’re all in the same region at a few high schools. That means that, despite having plenty of divers who could place in the top 10 at state, only two can advance by Texas rules, and the Woodlands High took the top four spots.
That leaves out divers like Kendall McClenney, who will be headed to the elite program at Duke. She’s got very good versatillity (probably a hair better than Markle in that department), but is best on the springboards. She took 3rd on the 1-meter and 4th on the 3-meter at the 2011 Junior Nationals, and also made the final on the platform where she took 8th.
Not that its relevant in college diving, but McClenney is also an accomplished synchronized diver, which speaks to her consistency.
And in what sort of kicks off a new era, the Clemson Tigers have added their first diver for life after swimming, where women’s diving will be the only aquatic program they offer beginning in the 2012-2013 season. Katie Bartolak will be headed there next year to help build what the university hopes becomes a strong single-discipline program. She’s better at the taller boards, especially the platform, where she was 19th at the 2011 Junior Nationals. That makes this a bit of an odd decision for her, as Clemson doesn’t have a diving platform and they have to travel twice a week to Georgia to use the platforms there.
So ridiculous is this diving program at the Woodlands that Ariana Milone, a USA Diving Nationals qualifier and Junior Nationals finalist on the 3-meter synchro didn’t even crack their post-season lineup. That didn’t stop her from getting a lot of good offers, and she’ll be headed to Colorado State next year.
Of course, this year in Austin they were all topped by junior Kassidy Cook, who broke the State Record in route to her 1-meter title. She’s the top diving recruit nationally in the class of 2013, and is expected to be an NCAA A-finalist (at least) as a freshman.