COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
Emma Friesen of Hawaii followed up her national title in the 1-meter by finishing sixth in the 3-meter.
UH’s Friesen closes golden run at NCAAs
COLUMBUS, Ohio » Emma Friesen celebrated her NCAA diving championship on Thursday night at a local restaurant named, fittingly enough, Champs.
Friesen tried to double her number of gold medals last night, but ran out of steam and settled for a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on the Ohio State University campus.
The Hawaii sophomore won the 1-meter springboard title on Thursday and placed sixth in the 3-meter last night at the jam-packed McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
"I'm really proud of myself for doing so well (Thursday) and this morning (in the preliminaries)," Friesen said. "It didn't work out tonight, but that's sports."
The Canadian native joined QiongJie Huang (2005) as the only Rainbow Wahine to win the top NCAA prize.
While Thursday's dramatic finale came down to the last dive, Ohio State junior Chelsea Davis cruised in last night's 3-meter competition, finishing with a score of 365.85, more than 10 points ahead of Buckeye teammate Bianca Alvarez.
Friesen's final tally was 332.90, after she had posted a top score of 362.90 in the preliminaries earlier in the day.
"I missed my spots tonight," Friesen said. "I didn't have the confidence I had this morning (in the preliminaries)."
Hawaii coach Mike Brown said Friesen was tired after two long days of competition.
"That's a lot of diving in two days," he said. "Plus it's only the fifth day that she's been practicing 3-meter in the last two months (due to a shoulder injury she suffered in January). She couldn't quite hold her edge tonight."
Friesen finished five spots ahead of Davis in the morning prelims, but the roles were reversed in the night finals.
"Winning this morning in prelims was a big thing," Friesen said. "Tonight, I had no regrets. I went for every single one of my dives. If you don't go for it you don't stand a chance of getting 8s on it. I went for it and it didn't work out my way."
Friesen scored 54s on her first three dives last night to fall out of title contention. She rallied in her final two dives, with scores of 57 and 64.40. Davis and Alvarez posted the highest single dives of the evening, at 73.50.
Friesen said she stole a peek at the scores as the first couple of rounds progressed last night.
"You can't help but do it a little bit, although I try my best not to (scoreboard watch)" she said. "(Davis) was diving great. The girls were all diving great. If I had hit my reverse gainer (in the third round), then it would have changed the momentum of how I was feeling on my next dive. That could have made a difference."
Friesen said the 1-meter event has been her best event for a "really, really long time."
"I'm just starting to excel on 3-meter," she said.
She wound up finishing 16 spots ahead of last year's 22nd-place finish on 3M. She placed 17th in 1-meter springboard in 2007. She credited not just physical training, but also getting mentally stronger the past year.
On Thursday in the 1-meter final, Friesen entered the sixth and final round of dives with just a two-point lead, and watched as Texas' Mary Yarrison nailed her dive to go out in front.
"Mary got 8s on her last dive, so it was really stressful," Friesen said. "I was just thinking about my takeoff. In the morning I was shaky nervous. But by the time finals came around I felt more steady and secure."
After Friesen hit the water on her reverse one with one twist, she had a good feeling. She still had to wait until the final results flashed on the scoreboard.
"I was pretty sure that it was really good, but it was going to be close either way," she said. "I ended up beating her by five points. It's nerve-racking when everyone else has (finished) and is watching to see what you're going to do."
Brown said it was obvious to him that Friesen had made a good enough dive to win.
"I knew she could do it well enough to win, it was just a matter of the moment," Brown said. "I knew (she'd won). They were scoring her for how high she was off the board and her being straight up and down. She did that on the last dive."
It wasn't too long after the competition ended that Friesen began getting calls from Hawaii, as her teammates had been following the meet on the Internet.
"I had friends calling and calling," she said. "And I was returning calls. It was hard since I didn't have any teammates here, but diving is an individual sport anyway."
She celebrated at Champs with her parents, who were national swimming and diving champions in their day, and her best friend and fellow Canadian, Kendra Melnychuk of the University of Missouri (who just missed making the finals for 3-meters).
Friesen, who was named to the CSCAA All-America team on Thursday, will travel to Seattle next week to watch several of the Rainbows compete in the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, before heading to Russia to represent her home country in an international meet.