Cal men’s diving rose to the occasion at more-than-a-mile-high Flagstaff, Arizona, this past weekend as they took second place at the NAU Lumberjack Diving Invitational. The higher stage saw some of Cal’s best results as a second Bear qualified for the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships, the preceding round to the national championships.
“Very satisfied,” said Cal diving coach Derek Starks. “I didn’t hear any complaints about the altitude. Everyone kept pace, the quality of diving did not decrease throughout the week and they really kept it consistent, so that was good to see.”
The Bears sent three representatives as part of an eight-man competition over the weekend. Three others represented Arizona State, while the last two hailed from Grand Canyon University.
Returning sophomore Connor Callahan led Cal at third place overall, including a runner up finish in the platform along with a pair of third place finishes in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards. Callahan, who had already qualified for Zones in Utah in October, posted new season highs in both springboards with 342.00 in the 3-meter finals and 337.55 in the 1-meter finals.
Freshman Johnny Robinson finished right behind Callahan at fourth place overall, also managing to establish a pair of personal bests in the process. He became the second Bear to qualify for Zones with a score of 330.05 in the 3-meter springboard finals. That competition will also take place at NAU’s Wall Aquatic Center in March.
Freshman Jackson Gabler fell just two-tenths of a point short of qualifying for Zones, but his performance in the preliminary round of the 1-meter received a new personal best of 299.80. It was far from a disappointing outing, as Gabler set another personal best in the 3-meter with a 298.05 finish, almost 40 points higher than his score at Utah a month ago.
The divers also made their first splashes from the tower last weekend, getting off six dives from the platform. Callahan finished a point short of a personal best at 325.20, good for second place in the event.
The fourth and final male diver on the team, freshman Jared Kloos, did not travel this past weekend.
“We were a little bit more limited on the amount of divers we could bring here,” Starks said. “So we went more with the divers we had been doing tower with. We let (Kloos) stay training at home and we’re going to bring him into platform competitions in January.”
While Cal divers made significant strides, the star of the weekend was undoubtedly Arizona State’s sophomore Youssef Selim. The former Olympian swept the field, finishing with at least a 60-point margin in every event.
“The great thing here is that there were some of the top divers in the country that are going to be final-ing at NCAAs,” Starks said. “So, it’s a big confidence booster to see that we are rising up and hanging out with them. Moving forward, it’s just knowing the dives we’ve got to fine-tune, learn a couple new things, and we got a vision of what we’re looking at for the spring season.”