Sponholz wins national 3-meter title
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Kelly Sponholz (Alden) claimed Fredonia State's first swimming & diving national championship Wednesday at the NCAA Division III meet.
Sponholz scored an NCAA D-III record 516.50 points in winning the 3-meter springboard finals at the University of Minnesota. The previous record of 509 points was set in 2008 by Kendall Swett of Tufts University.
"It's all still so new and crazy," Sponholz said by telephone after receiving her national championship plaque. "(Coach Crawford) has been a lot of help."
John Crawford, the current Blue Devil assistant coach and former men's head coach, has been the team's diving coach during Sponholz's four years at Fredonia State. She was won all eight SUNYAC events she's entered and has competed at the NCAA meet all four years.
Her best finish before Wednesday was a third-place score in the off the 1-meter board as a sophomore. She also finished fifth in the 3-meter the same year.
|Kelly Sponholz's expression says it all following her NCAA record-setting performance. She is flanked by coaches Arthur Wang (left) and John Crawford as she poses with the national title trophy.|
"She has continued to improve all four years," Crawford said from Minneapolis. "That was evidenced by her setting two more SUNYAC records at this year's meet. There's no doubt that at today's competition, she was the most consistent diver and she was doing it at a high level."
The preliminaries -- consisting of six optional and five voluntary dives -- were held earlier Wednesday and Sponholz emerged as the top scorer. She and the next seven divers advanced to the evening finals in order to re-dive the six optional dives.
"She was fourth in the (preliminary) rotation," head swimming and diving coach Arthur Wang said, "and she established herself early by doing well while others might not have been as sharp."
Now a seven-time All-American, Sponholz will go for her eighth such achievement -- and a possible second national title -- when the 1-meter springboard competition is held Friday.
She is the second Fredonia State female to win a national title within the last six days. Fellow senior Julia Hopson (Poughkeepsie/Arlington) won the women's 20-pound weight throw at the NCAA track and field championships last Friday. Hopson and Sponholz are the only two Fredonia State women to win national titles in any sport.