Diver

Men's cross country

Texas men’s cross country closed its season with a No. 26 finish at the NCAA Championships this Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

After securing one of just 31 spots at the championship, Texas struggled to run its best race.

All-American senior Craig Lutz fell around 4,000 meters into the race after getting bumped. Texas got caught behind the lead pack and struggled to gain any headway during the remainder of the competition.

“It was really disappointing [when] Lutz went down, but he got up and finished 51st,” said Brad Herbster, assistant coach for cross country/distance. “Was it what he wanted? No. But he didn’t quit. He very easily could have thrown in the towel and just said, ‘It’s not my day,’ but he kept fighting..”

Colorado won the men’s title, with Oklahoma State representing the Big 12 in ninth.

Regardless of the disappointing performance, Herbster said the race showed positive notes.

“They just kept fighting all the way through,” Herbster said. “Not a great performance, but they fought. That’s the one thing we can take away from this. They kept moving up, but it just wasn’t the Longhorns’ day today. We’re the No. 26 team in the country, but we’re a lot better than that.”

Men's swimming and diving

As the Texas Diving Invitational came to a close Saturday afternoon, the men’s swimming and diving team walked away with plenty to brag about.

On Thursday, the first day of the meet, the Big 12 Conference announced All-American sophomore Mark Anderson as the league’s Men’s Diver of the Week. Anderson, who received the title for the first time, lived up to the honor through the weekend competition.

Anderson was the only Longhorn competing in the platform event, and he was the only one Texas needed.

After the first round, Hawaii’s Amund Gismervik stood tall on the platform, boasting his lead in the event — but first place wasn’t his for long. Anderson climbed the stairs to the top of the platform and took his place for his second dive. Leaping off the concrete to perform his four-and-a-half somersaults almost flawlessly, Anderson garnered 77.7 points for the dive. Gismervik couldn’t do enough to catch up. Anderson finished with 441.75 points, securing victory in the event Saturday, the final day of the invitational.

While Anderson made a splash at the meet, junior Cory Bowersox and Gismervik competed in the invitational’s closest event, the 3-meter finals.

Gismervik took the lead halfway through the event, but Bowersox earned 91.2 points on a dive for a late spark to narrow Gismervik’s lead. Bowersox continued to gain ground, as the event came to a close, but his slow start came back to haunt him, as Gismervik won with 440.30 points — less than a point ahead of Bowersox’s 439.50.

Men’s diving will compete at the USA Diving Nationals next on Dec. 16.

Women's swimming and diving

Texas women’s swimming and diving swept the Texas Diving Invitational this past weekend at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center.

The Longhorns continued to win by large margins against strong teams, such as Cal and Arizona State, which were also present in every round of finals for the 3-meter, 1-meter and platform dives.

Senior All-American Emma Ivory-Ganja placed first in a 1-2 Texas finish Thursday in the 3-meter dive with 395.40 points — a new personal best. Junior Meghan Houston placed behind Ivory-Ganja by a 57.5-point difference.

On Friday, Houston was back on the board in the finals. After trailing for the first three rounds, she came in first with 304.25 points, a slim 6-point advantage over University of Houston’s Danielle Shedd’s 298.25 points. This was the closest event of the weekend, as the top-three 1-meter finalists all scored within 10 points of each other.

The final day of diving resulted in another 1-2 Texas win, wrapping up the invitational with three straight victories for the Longhorns. Sophomore All-American Murphy Bromburg gained a large margin over competitors with her third, fourth and fifth dives, earning 80-plus points each. Bromburg stole the platform with 360.70 points, a 50.20 lead over second place winner Ivory-Ganja.

Ivory-Ganja earned honors as Big 12 Diver of the Week this past Thursday.

The diving season will continue Dec. 16-21 at the USA Diving Winter Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas men’s swimming and diving team opens up its season Thursday against North Carolina. The Longhorns return to the pool after a relatively successful 2012-13 season where they captured the Big 12 conference title and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships. 

The Longhorn’s fifth place finish gave head coach Eddie Reese his 33rd championship finish at Texas. Entering his 36th season, Reese has guided the Longhorns to top-three finishes in 27 of 35 NCAA championship meets. 

Assistant coach Kris Kubik returns for his 31st season and diving coach Matt Scoggin, a former Longhorn diver, returns for his 19th season on Reese’s coaching staff. In addition to their team success, the Longhorns individually accounted for five All-America finishes and registered an additional All-America relay showing last season. 

Despite their success, the Longhorns are primed to surpass last year’s achievements. To do this, they must rely on consistent performances from veterans such as junior swimmer Clay Youngquist. 

Youngquist, a four time All-American, claimed two NCAA Championships in the 400 freestyle relay and the 800 freestyle relay during his freshman campaign. 

“Our goal is definitely to win an NCAA Championship,” Youngquist said. “It’s always a special thing to do, but this year, with it being in our home pool, it would be special for us and the University of Texas.”

To secure the team’s 11th NCAA team title, its first since 2010, it will require an effort from a talented freshmen class, headlined by swimmer Jack Conger and diver Michael Hixon, both of whom secured wins for their respective teams during the Orange-White scrimmage earlier this month. Youngquist and the other team leaders have preached the importance of technique in practice in preparation for Thursday’s meet.

“I understand what it takes to get them to that level and win a championship,” Youngquist said. “My mom was my coach growing up so I understand how to be a leader in and out of the pool.”

Youngquist believes the biggest obstacle the freshmen will have to overcome in their first meet will be nerves.

The Longhorn coaches are not expecting blazing swim times during the opening matchup but understand the hard work the team is putting in will keep the team fresh moving forward.

Swimming and Diving finds success at World University Games

Several current and former Longhorns have found success at the World University Games this week. 

On day three of the competition, former Longhorn Laura Sogar captured bronze in the 100-meter breaststroke, just two seconds behind gold. Rising sophomore Meghan Houston, a diver, also won bronze a day earlier, on Thursday. Houston competed in the three-meter synchronized event with Laura Ryan, a diver from Georgia. Earlier, Houston finished 10th in the one-meter diving semifinals. 

Sogar will compete in the 200-meter breaststroke this weekend and the 50-meter breaststroke on Monday. 

Junior Jake Ritter placed seventh in the 400-meter freestyle event on Wednesday, his only event. Teammate Jack Conger, an incoming freshman, will compete in the 200-meter breaststroke and 100-meter butterfly on Sunday. 

Another former Longhorn, Austin Surhoff, will participate in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay this coming Monday. All are competing for Team USA. 

After a mishap at the 2011 NCAA Championships dislocated her right elbow, diver Maren Taylor opted to redshirt what would have been her third year, the 2011-12 season, to heal. Now, she has recovered, is back on the board and headed to Spain to compete in the FINA World Championships.

Taylor earned a spot in the individual three-meter diving event at the Championships beginning July 19 in Barcelona, Spain. She will be the only American woman to compete in the event and is the first Texas diver to represent the U.S. in international competition since Laura Wilkinson in 2008. Texas diving coach Matt Scoggin will join her as an assistant coach on the team.

To qualify, divers competed in the 2013 USA Diving World Trials and had to earn a minimum of 903 points with a combined degree of difficulty of 14.8 in the finals. Taylor finished with a 905.50 points and a 14.8 difficulty level on her five dives.

Scoggin said the meet was successful and proved what Taylor could do especially after her disappointing NCAA trip.

“What Maren did today was exactly what we thought she’d be able to do in the three-meter event at the NCAA Championships,” Scoggin said. “Her three-meter finish at NCAAs was disappointing, but she was able to shake it off. That’s a big key to her success. She moved on, prepared for this meet and knew she could do this today."

During the season, Taylor brought her Big 12 title total to three and was selected as the Big 12 Diver of the Year. She earned All-America honors in the one-meter and platform events this year at the 2013 NCAA Championships, giving her All-American awards for each year she has competed.

Freshman Connor Lammert attempts a shot in Texas’ 73-47 loss over the weekend. Lammert will carry an increased role into game with TCU, averaging 11.5 points per game in his last two. 

Photo Credit: John Smith | Daily Texan Staff

After his dominating performances against TCU and Arizona, redshirt sophomore Will Chandler gained recognition from the Big 12 as the Men’s Diver of the Week last Wednesday. Despite it being the third time Chandler has received the award, this time holds a special significance: it was his first Big 12 Men’s Diver of the Week honor since coming back from Crohn’s disease. 

Chandler was diagnosed with Crohn’s, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, at age 12. However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year in college, in the middle of his development as a serious diver, that the disease became severe enough to require surgery.

“I had six feet of my large intestine removed,” Chandler recalled. “I lost like 20 pounds in the hospital, and that’s really important, because if you’re a little twig on the diving board, the board isn’t going to go anywhere when you jump on it.”

But diving coach Matt Scoggin wasn’t concerned with Chandler’s weight loss affecting his diving abilities. He was solely concerned with how it would affect his health. 

“Sports took a back seat,” Scoggin said. “I was only concerned with Will progressing to complete health and managing the disease.”

Chandler’s diving may have been pushed to the back burner, but the diving team stepped up to support Chandler during his 24-day stay at the hospital. 

“I saw a teammate in the hospital every day I was there,” Chandler said. “Matt came to the hospital three to five times. He brought me diving videos to watch so I could still stay in the mindset. That was really my strength.”

The struggle didn’t end when Chandler was released from the hospital. He had been out of the pool for about four months and lost a significant amount of muscle. 

“It definitely plays a role in the back of your mind,” Chandler said. “When I do come back, am I going to be able to be as good or as strong as I was before?” 

However, there is one haunting factor standing between Chandler and a successful career: the potential that Crohn’s disease will return. 

Crohn’s is characterized by spontaneous flare-ups that could knock Chandler back to the beginning stages of the recovery process. Chandler acknowledges this possibility, but is hopeful the surgery, his medicine and diet will be enough to keep him healthy. 

“There is definitely a chance it can come back,” Chandler said. “But before, I was really stubborn about it. Whenever I felt sick, I didn’t tell anybody, and that’s what made me so sick. Now I talk to my doctor every five days to make sure that’s not happening again.”

Further stalling Chandler’s progress was his still-recovering body. He couldn’t dive back into his normal workout and practice routines. He had to be reintroduced slowly. 

“When I came back to practice, I didn’t even get in the water for another month,” Chandler said.

Scoggin did his best to accommodate Chandler’s condition while still advancing his skills. 

“Coming back and working with Will, I had to adjust my coaching by listening to his doctor and trainer,” Scoggin said. “Speed was important. We couldn’t throw him back into workouts too quickly. I mean, he was coming back from major surgery.”

Chandler, who redshirted last year, has made substantial improvement in his return to diving. Receiving the Big 12 Men’s Diver of the Week award only further displayed his progress.

“It’s definitely a very slow progression, but my legs are as big as they’ve ever been,” Chandler said. 

Scoggin recognizes Chandler’s abilities and has faith he can achieve NCAA recognition.

“One of the great things about Will is he’s always optimistic. He has such high goals and aspirations for himself,” Scoggin said. “He wants to be a great diver, and he has unlimited diving potential.”

Despite overcoming substantial struggles to earn the Big 12 award, Chandler still wants more. 

“Its good for confidence,” he said. “But I want to be honored on the NCAA level.”

The Longhorns will head up to SMU’s Perkins Natatorium for its first official meet this weekend. The tournament will last two days starting at 6:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Unlike traditional dual meets, the No. 9 Longhorns can only bring eight swimmers and one diver. They will go against USC, Florida, SMU, North Carolina and Louisville. All six teams, including Texas, are nationally ranked.

“I have never been to this sort of meet before,” first-year head coach Carol Capitani said. “We are going to see how one-third of our team is performing right now and how fit they are.”

Texas won the meet last year, but for the swimmers who have been training intensely, it’s more about the experience than the results.

“Our times are less of a concern,” senior swimmer Laura Sogar said. “It’s important getting out there, racing and practicing mental toughness.” Capitani, who is excited for her first meet as head coach, is more focused on her swimmers than the beginning of her coaching career.

“I just want them to race tough and maybe surprise some people,” Capitani said.

Men's Swimming and Diving

Senior diver Drew Livingston was named Big 12 Diver of the Year over the weekend. Texas also swept the other four Big 12 awards gi

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

In a year that saw the Texas Men’s Swimming and Diving team earn many individual and team awards, it’s only fitting that the second ranked squad in the country claim a few more accolades at the season’s end. Texas won the Big 12 title in February and finished second at the National Championships last month.

Over the weekend, the Horns racked up a few more awards to add to a trophy case already bursting at the seams, as Texas claimed all five yearly Big 12 awards.

Head Coach Eddie Reese was named Coach of the Year, Matt Scoggin claimed Diving Coach of the Year honors, Jimmy Feigen was dubbed Swimmer of the Year, Drew Livingston was tabbed as Diver of the Year and Kip Darmody was crowned Newcomer of the Year. This is the fourth time since 2003 that Texas has claimed all five yearly awards.

Reese adds this year’s title to an already sterling resume, bringing in his seventh straight Coach of the Year honor and 10th overall during his tenure on the 40 Acres. Reese guided the Horns to their 16th consecutive Big 12 Title en route to a fifth consecutive first or second finish at the National Championships.

Matt Scoggin claimed his sixth Diving Coach of the year award in a season that saw senior divers Matt Cooper and Drew Livingston earn All-American honors and between them claim one National title, four top-four and six top-ten finishes at the NCAA Championships.

Senior Jimmy Feigen capped off what has been a prolific career at UT with his fourth consecutive Swimmer of the Year honor. The 24-time All-American earned national championships in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and the 400-meter freestyle relay at this year’s NCAA Championships. Feigen’s is the first swimmer in conference history to win Big 12 Swimmer of the Year four straight years.

Drew Livingston’s Diver of the Year Honor is the third of the senior’s career. Livingston won the National Championship in the 1-meter while earning three more All-American honors, enough to be named NCAA Diver of the Meet.

Freshman Kip Darmody is an emerging force for this Texas squad. He was a member of the National Champion 800-yard relay squad and earned All-American honors in the 100 backstroke. Darmody’s Newcomer of the Year honor extends an impressive streak for the Horns, as Texas has had a swimmer earn the title every year since 2003.

Printed on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 as: National runners-up sweep Big 12 awards

Women's Swimming and Diving

For sophomore diver Maren Taylor, collegiate competition just doesn’t cut it any more.

Last year, Taylor was already a standout at Texas. Her many successes throughout the year culminated in an impressive NCAA performance where she was an All-American honorable mention diver in the one-meter event. This year, she has moved past the basic concepts of diving and is using her past performances as motivation in upcoming national-scale meets.

“My freshman year, I was working on a lot of more basic things so I didn’t quite get to where I wanted to be,” Taylor said. “This year I feel like I am finally starting forward to where I want to go. This fall and winter I’ve made some really big steps in terms of learning new and bigger dives like the Olympians compete with.”

On Wednesday, Taylor finished fourth in the final round of the one-meter diving event at the 2011 USA Winter National Championships, held at the University of Iowa.

In addition to the added practice that this major competition provides, many athletes use it as a stepping stone to the Olympics, one of the many goals that Taylor has her eyes on.

“I can use it as a practice college meet towards big college meets coming up,” Taylor said. “Since it’s the year before the Olympics, they use it as a qualifier for a bunch of teams and if you do well enough you make the trials.”

After she gets back to Austin, the next big stop on her schedule is the Big 12 Championship and NCAA Championship meets. This year they are being hosted at UT, which is a huge advantage for the team, both swimming and diving. To a diver, location may be one of the most important things about competing.

Because of variances in pool design and architecture, each pool is unique and sometimes glaringly different. Everything from the color of the pool and walls, and the objects around the pool and on the walls, to the location of surrounding boards influence the execution of a dive.

“For divers it’s all visual — the way we know when to come out of a dive,” Taylor said. “When you go to a new pool, the visual aspect is something you have to think about and get used to, but here you don’t have to think about it. You can focus on competing.”

This advantage will be the cherry on top of a great season of preparation for Taylor. Throughout fall and winter competitions, Taylor has consistently finished at, or close to, the top of the field. She is still perfecting her platform dive, her favorite event, but Taylor is well known for her performances on the tower.

In July 2010, she finished fourth on the tower at a USA Zone Diving meet which qualified her to compete in the U.S. Diving National Championships the following month.

Though platforms are her favorite, she also excels at the spring board events. In October 2010, she was named Big 12 diver of the week based on her first place finishes in both the one-meter and three-meter springboard events in a meet against California.

“Three-meter is the one that I have made the most jumps as far as new dives go,” Taylor said. “I feel like I am going in with more of a degree of difficulty and I feel like I have a chance to do really well at it.”
The star diver has wanted to come to Texas since she started high school. The chance to work with head coach Matt Scoggin at a university that was known for its diving program was a chance she couldn’t pass up. To her, being able to compete for a top tier university, both in athletics and academics, instills a sense of pride.

“Since I was a freshman in high school, I just wanted to come to Texas,” Taylor said. “When I go home and wear my burnt orange, someone will say something. People kind of look up to you.”

Taylor and her teammates host SMU on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the final home meet of the season. 

Diver Drew Livingston and swimmer Jackson Wilcox both collected two wins each on Friday in the Longhorns’ victories over Indiana and Michigan.

Texas defeated Michigan 160-140 and Indiana 181-119.

Wilcox and Michael McBroom finished one-two in both the 1000 and 500 freestyle races.

Cole Cragin won the 100 backstroke while Dax Hill was victorious in the 100 freestyle.

Livingston set a pool record at Indiana’s Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center with a score of 405.70 points in the 1-meter event and he also won the 3-meter event.

“He knows he can do so much better than that,” diving coach Matt Scoggin said. “That’s a positive sign in the right direction, to dive as well as he did.”

The 200 breaststroke helped the team take the lead with a one-two-three finish with Nick D’Innocenzo, Eric Friedland and Scott Spann.

Although the team won, head coach Eddie Reese sees room for improvement.

“We seemed to get better in the races at the 200-yard distances,” Reese said. “We weren’t very good in the 50s; like in the 200 medley relay. Otherwise, we’re right where we need to be this time of year.”

Reese was impressed with D’Innocenzo’s performance and the distance swimmers.

“Jackson Wilcox, Michael McBroom and Jim Robertson all did a really good job with their heavy load in the distance events, though we didn’t sprint well at all today,” Reese said.

It’s called the “Cullinan.” It’s a difficult feat involving a half twist/turn move on the uneven bars, and only a handful of gymnasts can do it. One such person is Shelby Cullinan, a redshirt sophomore diver who the move is named after.

In two years at Texas, Cullinan has proven to be an unstoppable force. Both her experience as a gymnast and her vivacious personality have propelled her in a sport that is relatively new to her. Cullinan spent much of her life in the gym perfecting routines on the uneven bars en route to becoming a nationally competitive gymnast. It was not until her sophomore year of high school after a torn ACL along with the encouragement of her aunt that she decided to try diving — just for fun.

After reinjuring her knee, Cullinan quit gymnastics and switched to diving full time, where she quickly became the top high school diver in her home state of Arizona. While her transition from an exceptional gymnast to an equally talented diver was sensational, it came as a result of hard work and a persistent attitude.

For Cullinan, the transition between the two sports was easier than most would expect.

“You’re still flipping and you need air awareness [in diving],” she explained, “but it was really hard landing on my head, learning to spot the water to know when to come out, and also trying to find the rhythm of the board because gymnastics is all power but with the board you have to be patient.”

Diving is also easier on the body than gymnastics. Cullinan recalls feeling pain after a gymnastics competition. With diving she is now able to walk and do other types of physical activity after a meet.

Despite the differences, Cullinan made the transition seamlessly. Diving head coach Matt Scoggin has taken notice of how her gymnastics background has contributed to her success.
“As a diver, she is very gifted because she twists really well from gymnastics,” he said. “She has good visual references like most gymnasts do. [She] knows where [she] is in the air and that has really translated into [being] a consistent diver.”

Her physical skills have been helped along by her “Type A” personality. At competitions she is often found chatting with divers from other teams, as she prefers to have fun while diving. Her methodology, while out of the ordinary, has proven successful.

“When I first came here I was really nervous competing and I thought that I needed to be really serious and focused, but every meet I was getting last, I was doing horribly,” Cullinan recalls. “I need[ed] to figure out what works for me ... I can’t focus on the dives in competition ... I have to talk, listen to my music, just get my mind away from it and have fun.”

Cullinan’s transition to diving has not been totally seamless. There was one significant hurdle she had to overcome as a diver — she is afraid of heights. With the encouragement of her coaches and consistent practice she has able to begin to conquer that fear. She admits that her best event is probably the highest dive, off the 10-meter platform.

Her fear of heights is a “work in progress,” Scoggin said. But he added that some of the best divers in history have been afraid of heights.

If Cullinan can continue to stave off her fear of heights and continue to get stronger, there is nothing stopping her.