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Men's 3 Meter
Prelims and more Semis Finals

Prelims and more

So, if the women's field was considered wide open, the men's field was considered a little less so...After all, we have the number one diver of this Olympiad competing...But there were lotsa guys here hungry and ready to make a name (or even more of a name) for themselves.

Probably the most impressive list of the prelims (6 optionals by 17 competitors) came from Kevin McMahon. He's had near-great performances in the past, but his new training regimen with Alik Sarkisyan is definitely paying off -- he was absolutely spectacular. His entry lines have cleaned up, he's using his board better, and he's getting his dives into more compact positions so he looks better and finishes higher. Especially notable were his 5154B (I'm not a fan of his early-out style into the twist, but wow, was it dynamic and powerful!), his 407C, which held the entry line better than I've ever seen him do before, and his 307C, which showed great balance and poise on his takeoff, that new compact position he's getting into, and a great
explosion out of the dive to his line for the entry (and he garnered two 9s for his effort).

David Pichler, veteran Olympian and national team member for the last twelve years (spanning three decades <g>), was in control of his diving from dive one. He followed up PJ Bogart's awe-inspiring 107B (8.5-9s) with an even better one (all 9s that counted -- maybe 10s if he'd pointed those feet!). He maintained 7.5s on his next three dives before getting the crowd's attention with his 307C. Kevin McMahon had just nailed this dive earlier in the round to take the lead, and some diving fans who are very familiar with Pichler's recent diving weren't sure that he could do this dive well enough to wrest back that number one position. He did it just about as well (only one judge's score differed, 1/2 point lower than Kevin's) and ended the prelims at the front of the pack.

Redoubtable Arizonan-turned-Minnesotan PJ Bogart put on quite a show as well, doing that aforementioned 107B and earning a slew of 9s on his 305B. The only dive that wasn't at his caliber was his 205B, which stood up a little to straight and didn't;t get enough somersaulting action for PJ to find his way out to a clean line for the entry -- still, don't we all wish we missed for 6.5s??

Chris Mantilla came out of the competitive fog he;s been in for the last few years and TURNED IT ON. He looked not only like he was enjoying himself (doesn't he always?) but that he was focused on doing something at these trials. Proving himself a risk-taker, he opened with a 205B, instead of the usual 405B or 107B. His unusual strategy paid off handsomely, as he garnered 8-9s on the dive (which ended up as the best back optional of the meet) and maintained the pace the rest of the prelims, earning mostly 8s or better on his 5152B and 305B, and garnering at least one more 8 on two of his next three dives to put him in a serious challenger position.

Troy Dumais opened up with a sub-par 107B for 6.5s and 7s, but put to bed any ideas that he hadn't come to play when he nailed his 5154B for 8-8.5s and his 305B for 9-9.5s. He maintained the lead until the final round, when he (along with two Mark Ruiz and Travis Niemeyer) made an odd miscalculation and ended up hitting the board on his 405B. That dive, which kept a few 4.5s, dropped him to fifth, 20 points out of second. It was odd for me to see Troy, the master of pulling much-needed scores on dives when he doesn't even know how to do those dives properly, to make such an error, but it also set the stage for another dynamic under which Troy thrives -- drama :)

Mark Ruiz started the contest tentatively, which is something I've never seen from him before. His dives first four were all there, but the entries weren't as crisp and well-defined as usual, and there wasn't quite that Mark Ruiz zippiness. Then, the unexpected -- he hit the board on his 405B, setting an awful trend. YIKES! But then it spurred him on, letting him show the Mark Ruiz we know to come out as he nailed his 5371C for 8.5s and took the seventh place spot going into the semis.

Other notables -- Chris Devine, finishing 6th, was solid to the core on the front entries -- his 107B, 405B, 5136D and 5337D were all about 8s. Oftentimes, though, it comes down to Bs and Gs for the finish...rising "star" and Kentucky/Indiana boy Phil Jones placed eighth and was in the 7-7.5 range throughout. Great job for a first time Trials competitor who just qualified this Spring with a 9th place finish at Seniors. Cuban-born Rio Ramirez nailed his inward, front, and back, but missed just a bit on his 5154B and 307C...Justin Dumais, who's made more of a name for himself on platform in recent years, showed he can dive springboard as well, hitting his 107B and 5154B for 8+.



By the end of the prelims, we knew we were in for a treat for the semis, since the old truism about the Trials "Anything Can Happen" was certainly holding in this event!


Semis

Pichler remained the top man, steady as a rock, hitting for 8s and 9s throughout, and pointing his feet better than ever :) Surprisingly to me, who hasn't seen him dive in a year, McMahon again showed off incredibly improved lines and grace, earning mostly snowmen on all of his vols as well. PJ did his usual standout job, going 8s on the first three and 9s on the last two, including his signature 5131C (you have GOT to put that dive on the air, NBC!!!). I hope lotsa you kids start doing that, like y'all did with Hempel's 5331D after the '96 Olympics.

But the real story in the semis was the consistent moving up of Dumais and Ruiz. Troy hit his 103B for 8-8.5s, but then seized every one of his additional vols for 9s and better. His 5132D went 9s, his 301B earned 9.5s and 10s, he saved a too-open on the start 201B and nailed the entry for 9s, and had a beautiful 403B for 9-9.5s. He made up 29 points on MacMahon, and was about one point from the lead. It was a 260 voluntary list, the likes of which I have never seen before! Ruiz also worked his way up during the vols, albeit his rise was not as dramatic as Troy's. His 103 went for 9s, his back for 8.5s, his gainer dive for 8.5s-9s, his inward for 8-8.5s and his gainer twister for 9s. He chipped his way up to 5th place, and finished the semis ten points behind McMahon.

Remember, "Anything Can Happen!"


Finals

OK, so we went into the finals with Pichler one point ahead of Dumais, with McMahon 9 points behind Dumais, and McMahon, Bogart, Ruiz, and Mantilla all well within striking distance. To add to the drama, Troy was rushed to the hospital at 2 AM this morning to have treatment for an acute flare-up of kidneystones, an ailment which had also hit him at the World University Games.

Round 1 --Mantilla opened with his risky gambit, the 205B, and hit for 8-8.5s. Ruiz started out with 7.5s and eights on his 107B, while Bogart did a so-so 405B for 7s (back and short). McMahon stayed on course with 7.5-8s on his 405B, while Troy NAILED his 107B for 9-9.5s, gunning for alpha male status. Pichler responded with a 405B for 7.5s and 8s. At the end of the round, Troy led and Mark was making a move.

Round 2 -- Mantilla looked back on the board a bit and forced his full out. Ruiz does an unfocused 205B, an I heard a child yell during the dive. Mark apparently heard it as well, 'cuz when he came up, he pointed to his ear, but he didn't talk to the ref for a re-dive...PJ did a nice 3 and a half for 7.5-8s, followed by Kevin's 107B for 7.5s. Troy missed his hands on a 5154B but it was still nice for 8s, while Pichler was 9+ on his three and a half. This left Dumais with a diminished lead, Pichler way out ahead of McMahon, and Ruiz catching up with Bogart and Mantilla, about 50 points behind second.

Notable -- Justin Dumais hit his 107B, pretty, tight, and clean for 8s, following Mike Colliers nearly identical dive.

Round 3 -- Mantilla Did a solid 305B for 7.5-8s. Ruiz hit his 5351B for 8+ and furthered his move. Bogart NAILED his 205B for 8.5s...it was gorgeous and five steps ahead of his prelims one...Kevin was again solid on his 5154D for 7.5-8s, while Troy made a big mis-step on his 305B, lifting his head as he came into the pike and not getting a sense of the speed of his rotation and the line on the bottom -- OUCH for 4.5-5s. David did another solid dive, his double out, for 7.5s. At the end of Round 3, Troy had slipped to third, with McMahon 8 points ahead of him and Pichler maintaining the lead by 20 points. Interesting was the virtual tie for 4th among Ruiz, Bogart, and Mantilla all within half a point.

Mike's 205B was the best dive he's done this contest. What an entry.

Round 4 -- Mantilla missed his 405B badly, and looked to be out of the picture. Mark did a much better 307C in the finals than the prelims, but still missed his entry a bit. 7.5-8s was OK, though <g> Peej did another wonderful gainer (gosh, he's a pretty diver to watch!) for 8.5s, while Kevin slipped a bit with a 205B that washed by. Troy responded with his bread and butter dive, his triple twister, which garnered three 10s. Pichler seemed to buckle a little with a 205B for mostly 7s, that just didn't look , confident. At the end of round 4, Pichler maintained a 10 point lead, but now Troy was in second . Kevin's back dropped him to third, and Mark's gainer brought him to a strong fourth, 22 points out of second, although PJ was just behind him by 3 points.

Notable -- Rio's double out was AWESOME for 8-8.5s and he was CLEAN!!

Round 5 -- Mark took OFF with a gorgeous 405B for 8-8.5s (I thought it was better, but I suppose he coulda jumped higher). PJ did a 5136D that almost rivaled Troy's, except for the entry. He took the 9-9.5s, though. Kevin came up with a nicely done, but splashy 407C for 6.5-8s (odd judging there..), while Troy did an odd looking (from my angle) 205B that got 7.5s-8s. He seemed a bit short and unextended on the entry, but it was a great top and got down clean...David took his gainer twister out too far and looked like he had a slight twist on the bottom for 7-7.5s. So, going into the last round we had 5 serious contenders -- Pichler with a 13 point leas over Dumais and a 307C to do. Dumais with an 8 point lead over McMahon with a 405B. McMahon with 4 point lead over Ruiz, with a 307C. Ruiz with a 2 point lead over Bogart, with a 5371C left. And Bogart, making his run with a 5337D.

Round 6 -- Speculation was high. Could McMahon and Pichler do their great 307Cs again? What was Troy gonna do, with his mere 3.0 optional. Could Ruiz pull a miracle run on his last dive, the highest degree of difficulty dive done AND a front entry? and PJ, diving better than anyone (judge's scores alone, not including DD)...could grace and solid dives do it? Ruiz opened up with a crowd stopper, deafening rip, a teaspoon of water. He got 8.5-10s, mostly 9.5s, for a 98.70 dive that vaulted him to 1130.67. Bogart got up for his 5337D, and did another solid PJ dive for 8.5-9s, ending up with 1115.60. Kevin had a beautiful hurdle for his gainer, rode the board perfectly, spun like a muthah, and pulled the entry by for 5.5-6s, ending up with a total of 1097.90. Troy came up next with his 405B. However, Mark's gainer twister added some excitement to the mix. Troy needed 87 points to beat Mark, and all 10s on the 405B is worth 90. WOW. Troy hit the board on this dive in the prelims. And Pichler still had a 3.5 dive left, a 13 point lead over Troy, and had nailed his last 307C for 8.5s. Is this dramatic enough? Troy got up over the board and got into a great pike. He didn't stretch through the entry and left it a litle heavy and slightly by for 8.5s. 1120.30. Pichler's 307C was the last dive of the contest. He left the board with a nice ride, but his arms hadn't gotten through quite quickly enough to give him the perfect top. He ended up kicking out a little early and then softened slightly as he entered the water short. The awards ranged from 4.5-6.5, but it wasn't enough. He dropped to fourth place, 1113.66, and we had the Olympic team many predicted in 1994, but that few would have predicted any time over the last two...

Notable -- Tyce Routson hit the twister he missed in prelims, getting 9s on his 5337D. Phil Jones hit three 70-point dives in the finals -- 107B, 5154B, and 5337D. Mike did the prettiest 5351B so far. Chris Devine ended his career with a 10 on his 5337D! What a way to go...

Clearly, "Anything Does Happen!"

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