Lengyel captures NCAA title

The University of Miami can add another national championship to its list of recent successes. This one, however, is individual.

Senior diver Imre Lengyel can stand tall along with the championship UM football team, as he captured first place in platform diving at the 2002 NCAA finals in Athens, Georgia.

Lengyel’s accomplishment marks the 12th straight year the University of Miami has won a diving national championship.

“This is my last year and event ever in my college diving career, so I really expected to win,” said Lengyel, who is from Budapest, Hungary. “I just don’t think I should have waited until my senior year to win.”

Lengyel won the event without much of a threat by scoring a 620.25 in the final round. Justin Dumais of Texas was a distant second at 577.15.

Lengyel won the national championship in platform diving after struggling in his first two events of the competition. Lengyel placed 23rd in the 1-meter and came up just short with a second place finish in the 3-meter.

“My coach [Randy Ableman] put some juice in me after I came up short and pumped me up for the 10-meter,” Lengyel said.

Lengyel’s performance earned him All-American honors along with fellow Miami divers Stefan Ahrens (4th in the one-meter) and Miguel Velazquez (4th in the platform event). The University of Miami finished in 13th place in the team standings.

Lengyel’s national championship was the culmination of a very successful diving career at Miami. This past year, Lengyel was named the Big East Most Outstanding Men’s Diver after he won the men’s 1-meter and 3-meter competitions at the Big East Championships in February. The honor was the second of his career, as Lengyel also took home the 2000 Big East Diver of the Year. In addition, Ableman named Lengyel the most valuable diver at Miami.

To qualify for the nationals, Lengyel placed second in the 1-meter and 3-meter events at the Zone B Diving Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.

“I am really happy that I won, but at the same time, I am sad that my career at the University of Miami is over,” Lengyel said.

Lengyel has also competed on the national team for his native Hungary, where he finished 11th in the 3-meter springboard and competed in the 10-meter platform at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Lengyel hopes to compete in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece.

“I will be very happy if I make the Olympic team,” Lengyel said. “But either way I will probably retire after the next Olympics.”