INDIANAPOLIS – Kassidy Cook (The Woodlands, Texas) won the women’s 3-meter title, and Steele Johnson (Carmel, Ind./West Lafayette, Ind.) took gold on men’s 10-meter as the USA Diving Winter National Championships came to a close Sunday.
With their wins, Cook and Johnson secured spots to represent Team USA at the FINA Diving World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in February. Abby Johnston (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Durham, N.C.) also grabbed a World Cup berth with a second-place finish on 3-meter, and David Dinsmore (New Albany, Ohio/Coral Gables, Fla.) took third on 10-meter to earn a World Cup berth as well. The World Cup will serve as the final opportunity for countries to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Cook scored 975.20 points over three lists of dives in the women’s 3-meter event, with Johnston coming from behind to finish second with 950.75 points. Laura Ryan (Elk River, Minn./Athens, Ga.) was third with 892.60 points.
Cook had an 11.35-point lead heading into the finals. She built up her margin of victory with 330.65 points on her final list of dives, which included 70.50 points on her opening round inward 2 ½ pike and 72 points points on her front 2 ½ with one twist in the last round.
“I knew I had the lead but I was trying not to think about it. My coach just told me to stay in the moment and have fun, because that’s when I do my best. I tried to pretend we were starting over at square one, with zero points, and then just I followed through,” said Cook, who also won the 3-meter title at the 2015 AT&T National Championships.
Johnston was in fourth place and 28.1 points out of second after Friday’s semifinals. She scored more than 70 points on three of her five dives in the finals, including 72 points on her last two dives – an inward 2 ½ pike and a front 2 ½ with one twist to move her way into the top two.
“I felt like I was in my zone today. I woke up feeling good and just went for it. I’m really pleased. I knew I had a realistic shot. In my mind, the last 48 hours I’ve just been telling myself ‘28 points, 28 points, I can do it’,” Johnston said. “I knew it was attainable. I didn’t look at the scores, and I didn’t know where I was going into the last dive. I kind of had a feeling that I was there because my coach told me to just do a normal one, nothing crazy. I think that’s his cue, you’re good if you just stay solid. Today, I competed up to my potential.”
Johnson won his 10th national title and fifth individually after dominating the men’s 10-meter contest. He finished with 1523.05 points over three lists, with silver medalist Rafael Quintero (Rio Grande, Puerto Rico/Tucson, Ariz.) scoring 1414.60. Dinsmore was third at 1333.25. Because Quintero competes internationally for Puerto Rico, Dinsmore received the second berth on the World Cup team.
Johnson scored more than 90 points on three of his six dives in Sunday’s finals, opening with 91.80 points on an armstand double back somersault with 2 ½ twists in round one and adding 98.05 points on a front 4 ½ tuck and 90.10 points on a reverse 3 ½ later in the finals.
“We’ve been training really hard. Training’s been going well the past couple months, and that’s translating into good competition. I’m growing as a diver and a competitor, and it’s starting to pay off,” Johnson said. “I treat every list as a new contest, whether I’m 100 points up or 20 points down. I’ve got to go out and do every dive as best I can. That’s what I did this week. I took it one dive at a time and focused on that dive alone.”
Longhorn Aquatics won the overall team title, with Stanford Diving finishing second and the University of Miami third in the final team standings.