ATLANTA, Ga. – The Florida State women’s swimming and diving team earned its first medals of the 2017 ACC Championships at the McAuley Aquatics Center on Tuesday.
Freshman Ayla Bonniwell took home the 1-meter title with a career best score of 320.85 while her classmate Molly Carlson won bronze in her second final of the meet, scoring 307.65.
In addition to Bonniwell and Carlson, junior Blaire Mulka competed in her first career ACC final, placing sixth at 281.00.
“Some days you’re a windshield and somedays you’re a bug,” FSU head diving coach John Proctor said. “Today, we were the windshield. We weren’t as good as we could have been yesterday on 3-meter and today, we brought it.”
Bonniwell brought home the sixth 1-meter ACC title in FSU history, joining Chelsie Lerew (2001, 2003), Courtney McClow (2003), Tiffany Manning (2004) and Katrina Young (2015).
After scoring only 36.4 points on her second dive, Bonniwell was at the bottom of the leader board, looking to climb out of a hole. On her next two dives, she chipped away at the leaders, which included Carlson, scoring totals of 54.05 and 57.60.
Bonniwell joined Carlson along with Miami’s Wallace Leyland and Marcela Maric in the fight by scoring 64.40 on her front 1.5 somersault with 2 twists in round five. She sat in third heading into the final round, just four points out of the lead with her teammate, Carlson in fourth after her fifth dive accounted for 42.90 points.
After Maric made a mistake on her final dive, the door opened for the Seminoles. Carlson went first, scoring a total of 54.60 on her forward 1.5 somersault with two twists, moving into medal contention with just four divers left.
Bonniwell went in the water clean on her back 1.5 somersault with 1 ½ twists, scoring 60 points, putting the pressure on Leyland.
Leyland could only net a total of 45.50 on her final dive for a total of 308.50, crowing Bonniwell as the champion and Carlson as the bronze medalist.
Bonniwell, Mulka and Carlson add to the rich FSU diving history to have three finalist in one event. The Seminoles last performed the feat on 3-meter at the 2014 meet with Young, Ariel Rittenhouse and Kelsey Goodman after Rittenhouse, Goodman and Lisi Roland were all finalists on 1-meter at the 2012 ACC Championships.
“That’s a pretty cool bit of history right there,” Proctor said, “Two of those divers represented the United States at the Olympics. That’s an incredible piece of history to be a part of and I’m proud of all our ladies for their performance tonight.”
Bonniwell (290.15) and Mulka (288.40) were second and third out of prelims, while Carlson was fifth (278.60) and sophomore Cassidy Gebhart scored 13th place point behind a total of 254.55.
In addition to the three divers in the championship final, seniors Lydia Ware and Caroline Neil and junior Tayla Lovemore competed in the final heats of individual events.
Ware and Neil qualified for the bonus final in prelims of the 200 IM as Neil posted a career best at 2:00.06 for 18th and Ware followed in 24th at 2:00.59.
At night, Ware worked from lane eight and was just near her personal best time (1:59.08), taking over the lead on the free leg, touching with a time of 1:59.15 for the bonus final victory. Neil finished in 22nd with at 2:00.51.
Lovemore placed third in the consolation heat of the 50 free with a time of 22.30, after touching with a mark of 22.22 in prelims.
The Seminoles closed out the evening finishing in sixth place in the 200 free relay behind freshman Nika Blank, Lovemore, Ware and junior Alexi Smith with a total time of 1:29.28, which was just off their NCAA qualifying time of 1:28.97.
“We’re pretty excited to move up the ranks today,” FSU head coach Neal Studd said. “Of course we had some incredible diving tonight. They were the stars today. We closed out the day with another good relay and we had more best times. It was a solid day and we’re hoping to build on this for tomorrow.”
Florida State sits in sixth place overall with a total of 297 points, just 18 behind Duke and 31 ahead of Virginia Tech.
Wednesday’s prelims will start at 10 a.m. and will feature the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back and men’s 3-meter diving.
Live results can be found at divemeets.com as well as the ACC Championship site and meet mobile. For more information, visit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
ACC Championship Site: http://theacc.co/SDchamps
ACC Network Extra: (Finals)
Live Stats: http://theacc.co/sd17livestats