Springboard finale: Second in 1-meter
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Two days after winning a national title in one diving event, Fredonia State senior Kelly Sponholz (Alden) finished second Friday in 1-meter springboard diving at the NCAA Division III championship meet.
Competing for the final time as a collegian, Sponholz totaled 454.70 points for 11 dives. Calvin College senior Erica Deur won the event with 496.05 points, while Trinity (Texas) junior Lindsay Martin was third with 441.60.
Sponholz's score was 18 points better than her previous best score in the national 1-meter, resulting in a third-place finish her sophomore year. She won the national 3-meter springboard title Wednesday -- the first by a Fredonia State swimmer or diver -- with an NCAA Division III record score of 516.50 points.
"Today I felt like I dove one of my best meets ever in the 1-meter," Sponholz said. "I was better at night than I was in the morning. The 3-meter (Wednesday) was the best meet I ever had. It was the best week I've ever had. I was really focused, especially in the finals."
"She was a pleasure (to coach)," Blue Devil diving coach John Crawford said. "It was a great journey."
Sponholz was second to Deur -- 490.85 to 454.70 points -- after preliminaries, which consisted of six optional and five voluntary dives. The top eight scorers returned for the evening session to re-dive the six optionals.
While Deur maintained her lead throughout the evening session, Sponholz and Martin were close throughout with the latter moving into second place at one point. Sponholz then got a big boost by hitting her favorite dive -- a reverse one-and-one-half -- for sevens and above from all seven judges.
"She had a girl (Martin) nipping at her toes all the way through," Crawford said. "Then she opened up a gap of three or four points and maintained it to the end ... She was very, very solid all the way through."
The championship meet was held at the University of Minnesota and was hosted by Macalester College. It was also the site of Sponholz's first NCAA meet when she was a freshman.
"I didn't know what national caliber was before she came to Fredonia," Crawford said. "After she qualified as a freshman, both she and I had a better idea what we had to do to accomplish (a national title). It became my dream and her dream, too. From her sophomore year on, she did everything that she needed to do."
In addition to winning eight straight SUNYAC titles, and rewriting the school and conference record book, Sponholz earned eight straight All-American awards. Not counting nationals, she won every 3-meter event she entered and lost only 1-meter event other than at nationals -- the first meet of her sophomore year to teammate Teresa MacInnes.