KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Florida State divers Ayla Bonniwell and Joshua Davidson will advance to the 2018 NCAA Championships after qualifying on the first day of the NCAA Zone B Championships on Monday.
Bonniwell finished third on 1-meter to qualify for her second career NCAAs while Davidson fought back to take the final spot for Zone B in sixth place.
Bonniwell will join seniors Natalie Pierce and Tayla Lovermore in addition to freshmen Elise Olsen and Madeline Cohen at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which will take place in Columbus, Ohio from March 14-17 at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
Davidson will compete at the men’s meet from March 21-24 in Minneapolis, Minn., at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.
“I am very proud of those two,” FSU head diving coach John Proctor said. “They really earned it today.”
Over the course of 12 dives, Bonniwell missed just one dive that dropped her to 13th place in prelims, but she immediately recovered in the fourth round, scoring a total of 51.60 to put her right back into an NCAA qualifying spot.
Bonniwell scored 280.75 in prelims, tying for fourth place.
With prelim scoring carrying over, Bonniwell never wavered, scoring above 50 points on four of her five six dives. Ithaca, N.Y., native added a tally of 303.50 in finals for a total of 584.25 and a third place finish.
“Ayla was on it today,” Proctor said. “It was all clicking for her. For her to miss only one dive over the course of about four hours is remarkable.”
Davidson had trouble with his back 2 ½ somersault pike in both prelims and finals, which was his third dive.
In prelims, Davidson started off hot but after scoring a total of 36 points on his third dive, he slipped to 17th. The Tomball, Texas native recovered in the second half of prelims with totals of 64.40, 66.00 and 52.70 in order to advance to finals in eighth place with a total of 341.30.
Davidson came out in finals on fire with two of his best dives that included a total of 74.40 on his forward 3 ½ somersault, which is the toughest dive on his list. It was also the highest total on any diver in the field in the second round, climbing up to fifth after eight total rounds.
Davidson would slip to ninth after scoring 37.50 on his back 2 ½ somersault pike.
With only three rounds left and what seemed to be a huge mountain to climb, Davidson answered with two dives above 60 points in the fourth and fifth rounds, jumping up to eighth place.
In the last round, Davidson finished on a 68-point forward 2 ½ somersault 2 twist pike, which scored over 15 points more than his prelim dive. It was good enough to catapult him into sixth place with a total of 707.40, advancing to NCAAs.
“Josh was incredible,” Proctor said. “He had one dive that was giving him fits today and to come back, twice in order to qualify for NCAAs in this field is just amazing. He did a great job of moving on after things didn’t go as planned.”
Senior Blaire Mulka and sophomore Molly Carlson also advanced to finals of women’s 1-meter.
Mulka battled back after opening with first dive of 38.50 in 28th place. The Boca Raton, Fla., native came out of prelims in 13th place with a score of 262.95.
In finals, Mulka was right back into contention after scoring 52 points on her forward 2 ½ somersault pike and she continued to climb up the ranks after totals of 44.85 and 48.00 in the third and fourth rounds. At this point, three divers including Mulka tallied totals in the 454-point range and would all battle for the final qualifying spot.
Mulka remained in ninth place after her reverse 1 ½ somersault 1 ½ twist scored 46.80 behind marks of 6.0-6.5 in the fifth round.
On her final dive, Mulka received marks of 7.0 on her inward 1 ½ somersault pike for a tally of 50.40, moving her up to eighth place with a final score of 551.20, just under two points away from the seventh place finisher, who advanced to NCAAs.
“I can’t say enough good things about Blaire,” Proctor said. “This zone is just so tough and I am very proud of her for fighting for it today. She still has 3-meter tomorrow and I know she’s going to give it everything she has.”
Carlson was solid on 10 of her 12 dives throughout the day finishing 13th with a score of 536.35, while senior Caroline Gerhardt also competed on 1-meter, scoring a total of 226.50 for 26th place.
Sophomore Cameron Thatcher and Aidan Faminoff competed in finals of men’s 3-meter.
After posting a total of 325.75 for 14th place in prelims, Thatcher made a late charge with two dives scoring above 70 points. In fact, he scored almost 54 points more in finals than his prelim round.
Thatcher opened finals with marks of 7.5-8.0 on his forward 2 ½ somersault twist pike and followed it up with the same scores on his back 2 ½ somersault pike. The Toledo, Ohio native closed out his round strong, with marks of 7.5-8.0 on his forward 3 ½ somersault pike and forward 2 ½ somersault 2 twist pike for a total of 705.45.
Faminoff was solid throughout all 12 dives. He scored a total of 335.75 in prelims for ninth place. He added a total of 299.75 in finals for a tally of 635.45 for 17th place.
Senior Tyler Roberge finished 21st in his final collegiate 3-meter competition, scoring 297.40.
Prelims of men’s 1-meter will begin at 11 a.m. on Tuesday with finals immediately after. The women’s 3-meter competition will follow 45 minutes after the conclusions of men’s 1-meter.
“Tomorrow is another day,” Proctor said. “We need to keep at it and execute. If we do that, then everything will shake out how it’s supposed to.”
Live scoring will be available on divemeets.com. For more information on FSU swimming and diving visit Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.