Kristian Ipsen and Michael Hixon used the huge point cushion they carried into the final to hold off a determined field and claim the two spots for men’s individual 3-meter springboard at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Diving Saturday evening at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Four years after he lost an individual spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team when he missed his second-to-last dive at the Olympic Trials, Ipsen left no doubt this time around, building on the 116-point pad he held over third place entering the final. With Hixon in second, only 7.05 points behind Ipsen, the final was shaping up to be a two-man battle for the gold. When Hixon missed his fourth diving of the evening, Ipsen was free and clear on his way to the win, while Hixon finished second to earn the opportunity to compete in two events in Rio, having already qualified in synchro with Sam Dorman on Wednesday.
Ipsen finished with 1,452.75 points, 67.3 ahead of Hixon’s 1,385.45. Dorman finished third with 1,300.15 points.
Ipsen, 23, qualifies for his second Olympic Games after pairing with Troy Dumais to win the bronze medal in synchro at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Embarking on his diving career in 1998, he burst onto the scene by becoming the youngest diver to win a junior national championship at the age of 8. The alternate for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, he has enjoyed individual success in Rio, winning bronze in springboard at the 2016 World Cup event, his first individual medal at a senior international event.
A two-time Pac-12 Diver of the Year and three-time NCAA champion for Stanford, he stepped away from international competition for over a year, returning to the pool in 2014. A two-time junior world champion, he has won a total of 30 national titles, 14 at the senior level and 16 as a junior.
Hixon, 21, began diving at the age of 7, coached by his mother Mandy, the diving coach at the University of Massachusetts. She remained Michael’s coach until he left to compete at the University of Texas, where he won NCAA 1-meter and 3-meter national championships before transferring to Indiana University. A six-time national team member, he won bronze at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. His father, David, is entering his 40th season as the men’s basketball coach at Amherst College.
The audience paid an emotional farewell to four-time Olympian Troy Dumais, givng a standing ovation to the 36-year-old as he finished fourth at his final Olympic Trials, scoring 1,287.40 points.
The United States is seeking its first Olympic medal in individual springboard since Mark Lenzi won the bronze at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Lenzi’s gold at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games is this last gold won by an American in the event.