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Swimming & Diving
Sponholz finishes third at nationals
HOUSTON, Tex. -- Kelly Sponholz (Alden/Alden) finished third in 1-meter springboard diving Thursday at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships.
In the process, she became the first Fredonia State woman to earn NCAA All-American status in the sport (bestowed on the top eight finishers), and the highest national finisher of either gender since 1968.
"I set a goal to finish in the top eight, so when I did that in the afternoon that was nice," Sponholz said. "Coming in third is amazing."
The two-time SUNYAC champ and school-record holder in the event, Sponholz was fifth after 11 preliminary dives Thursday afternoon -- five voluntaries, and six optionals. She repeated the optionals Thursday night and overtook two other competitors with 426.10 points, 9.95 points ahead of the fourth-place finisher.
She finished 11th in the same event last year and was named Honorable Mention All American.
"I definitely improved a lot since last year," Sponholz said. "I learned new dives, and better technique."
"She's cleaner going into the water than she was last year, but more confident that she belongs in this group," Blue Devil assistant coach John Crawford said. "As the day wore on, her confidence just kept growing and her consistency paid off."
Sponholz's highest optional scores in the afternoon came in the inward 1 1/2 tuck, and the front 2 1/2 tuck dives. In the evening, she scored least 40 points in five of the six dives, including 44.85 points from the back 1 1/2 somersault pike position, and 44.10 points with the reverse 1 1/2 somersault tuck.
Sophomore Erica Deur of Calvin College (Mich.) won the event with 487 points, while junior Doria Holbrook of Mass. Inst. of Technology was second with 470.10 points.
Sponholz will also compete in the 3-meter springboard event, which begins with six optionals Friday afternoon, starting at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. Additional preliminaries are Saturday afternoon, with finals scheduled for Saturday night. The three-day meet is being held at the University of Houston Recreation Center. The men's championships will be held there next weekend, with Blue Devil senior Scott Horsington (Rochester/Churchville-Chili) competing in both diving events.
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