Feb. 1, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.--When junior Carlin Tettelbach and sophomore Laura Gartrell finished their lists of dives on the 3-meter boards Saturday against Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, UVa diving coach Rich MacDonald awaited their final scores with great anticipation.
When he heard Gartrell earned a score of 290.35 and Tettelbach a mark of 281.85, MacDonald pumped his fist, knowing Virginia qualified all nine divers for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships, a school record. The meet will be held in Christiansburg, Va., March 15-17.
"I think it's really huge," said junior Kelly Lloyd, who qualified earlier in the meet on the 1-meter boards. "That was our biggest goal coming into the season from day one. To do it at the last meet, it gives us a big boost for those who are going to ACCs and for all of us as we go to Zones."
"It was a team goal that we set the first week of practice that we wanted the whole team to go to the Zone meet," MacDonald said. "I knew with last weekend being the last meet of the dual meet season, it was coming down to the wire and Carlin, Kelly and Laura all dove well. I was extremely excited when they all put it together and made the qualifying score."
In addition to the Zone qualifying marks, UVa diving has made its mark on the record books and in Atlantic Coast Conference action. Sophomore JB Kolod has broken the men's school record on the 1-meter boards (369.30) and the Aquatic and Fitness Center and UVa records on the 3-meter boards (420.65).
In consecutive weeks, Kolod defeated the last two ACC champions in the 3m event, Duke's Nick McCrory, an Olympic bronze medalist, and Virginia Tech All-American Logan Shinholser.
Perhaps the biggest contribution to the squad has been Kolod's development as a team leader. With the graduation of All-American Briggy Imbriglia, the Pittsburgh, Pa., native is now the veteran of the men's squad and has aided the development of freshmen Carl Buergler, Jordan Sacks and Colby Shinholser.
"I didn't know if he'd be able to take on that role only being a sophomore," MacDonald said. "Sometimes it's a role you don't necessarily want so early in your collegiate career, but sometimes it's put on you. Even though he missed about four weeks early in the season with mono, he came back strong, embraced that leadership role and has thrived in it."
On the women's boards, freshmen Becca Corbett and Katie Warburg have each broken a school record in their first year on Grounds. Corbett holds the 1m mark (301.42), while Warburg set the 3m record (316.05).
Along with all the records and qualification marks, the freshmen class has infused a higher level of intensity in practice.
"The first-years have come in and trained really hard," Lloyd said. "When you see someone hitting a lot of dives, it's exciting and makes you work harder to do the same."
"I think because the intensity in practice has been raised, it has raised our performance and focus in meets," Buergler said. "You can see the whole team practicing harder and focusing on the little things and perfecting the details."
Although the intensity has increased, MacDonald says other keys are keeping it light and student-athletes supporting each other.
"Practices are much more intense, but it's still a fun environment," MacDonald said. "The kids like each other and are always having fun joking around, but once they step up on that board, they want to do the best dive that they possibly can and beat their teammates in whatever they're doing.
"One of the best aspects of the team is that they are all supportive of each other. For example, Becca and Katie have been going back and forth all year and they are each other's biggest fans. To have that support and have someone really pushing you makes them excel. "
Next up, the Cavalier divers will have a few competing at the ACC Championships Feb. 20-23 in Greensboro, N.C. Both the men's and women's diving takes place during the women's conference meet. After ACCs, the nine UVa divers will head to the Zone meet in Christiansburg, site of the 2012 ACC Championships and a part-time training site that UVa uses to practice platform diving.
"I think it is an advantage that we're a little familiar with the pool," MacDonald said. "But we're still a young team, so they are still going to have to step up and learn how to compete at a high level to move on at the meet. It will be a great experience for all of us."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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