DIVING: Sophomore wins NCAA title

Diving head coach Randy Ableman might want to clear more space on the pool’s wall.

Sophomore Reuben Ross joined sophomore Brittany Viola as a national champion with a victory in the three-meter springboard Friday night at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. With a score of 466.80, Ross was able to hold off Georgia senior Chris Colwill with a key 91.80 fifth dive. Colwill earned second with a 460.55, a day after winning the one-meter event.

“I’m on top of the world right now,” Ross said. “I’ve had a smile since the event finished. It’s just an incredible feeling.”

Ross had finished seventh in the preliminary round as freshman J.J. Kinzbach failed to make the cut by scoring 274.95 and placing 32nd.

“I just had an off morning, a few mistakes here and there,” Ross said. “I knew what I had to do to this evening. I just focused on the things I had to focus on to improve my dives to bring up my game to the level I can compete on.”

The win for Ross was Miami’s 22nd men’s diving title overall and the first since Imre Lengvel won the 10-meter platform in 2002. It was the first three-meter springboard victory since Tyce Routson in 1997. Last week, Viola won the national championship in the women’s platform, and as tradition goes, both she and Ross will have portraits painted of them on the wall outside of the University Center swimming pool.

“Going up against a defending champ is never an easy task, but Reuben went out there and really had an amazing night,” Ableman said. “We gambled on his fifth dive and it paid off for us. We went with a dive that had a high degree of difficulty to maximize major points and he nailed it.”

On the first day of competition, Ross came in sixth to solidify his All-American status in the one-meter finals with a score of 375.85. The top seven divers competed in a close battle to the end, with Georgia senior Chris Colwill winning the championship at 407.25. Kinzbach, on the other hand, missed the cut with a 241.80 to place him in 30th.

Saturday night’s 10-meter final concluded the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with Kinzbach going into his strongest event. After finishing first in the preliminary round with a 432.25, which was 16 points higher than second place Colwill, Kinzbach scored four of six marks under 70, including a 45.90 and 51.15, to finish eighth in the finals at 366.05. Ross, who placed third to make the cut, earned fourth with a 445.50. Ohio State freshman Sean Moore beat out Colwill for the title with a score of 478.20 after a final dive of 95.20. Both Miami divers earned All-American status, the third of the weekend for Ross and first for Kinzbach.

“It was really special to see Reuben perform the way he did [Friday] and this had to have been the best performance of his life and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Ableman said. “I am ecstatic over how well our divers have performed this last week.”

Christina De Nicola may be contacted at c.denicola@umiami.edu.