ATHENS, Ga. – Florida State senior divers Cam Thatcher and Ayla Bonniwell will represent the Seminoles at the NCAA Championships after their performances at the Zone B Championships at the University of Georgia on Tuesday.
Thatcher advances to NCAAs after taking eighth place on 1-meter with a score of 631.05 and Bonniwell followed by finishing in sixth place on 3-meter with a score of 621.30 for her fourth-straight NCAA bid.
“What a day for our divers,” FSU head diving coach John Proctor said. “Today could have been the last day of Cam and Ayla’s careers and there were moments that could have done them in, but instead, they battled back and in different ways. Cam strategized and used dives that worked for him and Ayla just found another gear and there was no way she was going to miss. I am very proud of them.”
For the first time as a Seminole and second time in his career, Thatcher will compete on 1-meter at the NCAA Championships from March 25-29 in Indianapolis, Ind. Bonniwell will join her classmate Molly Carlson, freshman Sydney VanOvermeiren and sophomores Nina Kucheran at the Women’s NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., from March 18-21.
Junior Joshua Davidson and Carlson also added to their NCAA lists after finishing within the top 12 in their events after officially qualifying yesterday. Davidson placed second on 1-meter with a total of 746.85 over 12 dives and Carlson finished third at 646.10 on 3-meter.
“Molly and Josh have had an incredible post season,” Proctor said. “They’ve been so consistent this week and it’s been really fun to watch.”
Both Thatcher and Davidson got off to a sluggish start in prelims, finding themselves in 15th and 21st place respectively halfway through the round.
After back-to-back misses, Davidson zoned in and registered scores of 58.50, 60 and 71.30 on his final three dives, climbing all the way up to fifth place. In finals, Davidson continued to make moves, scoring above 55 points on five of his six dives in order to secure second place after adding 370.95 to his total in finals.
Thatcher tallied 63 points on his reverse 2 1/2 somersault tuck in the fourth round in prelims, but suffered a mishap in the fifth. He rebounded with a massive score of 8.0’s on his forward 3 ½ somersault tuck for 72 points, which was one of the highest totals among all divers on any dive. His total of 316.85 placed him in a qualifying spot by just under seven points in seventh place.
“After ACCs, we talked about changing a few dives on his list,” Proctor said. “He wanted to be able to change a dive to one he knew he could nail if he needed to, especially later in the list. He missed that fifth dive and I’ve never seen him react that way. He had the option to change his last dive, but instead he wanted to go after the front 3 ½ and he just absolutely smoked it. It was awesome.”
In finals, the Toledo, Ohio, native came out with two dives that scored between marks of 7.5-8.0, buying him a little breathing room. But after a miss on his third dive, Thatcher slipped to ninth and was just two points ahead of the 11th place contender.
Thatcher answered with 54-point scoring reverse 2 ½ somersault tuck, moving up to eighth. But his fifth round dive proved to be the NCAA bid securing factor, after he scored 60.45 on his inward 2 ½ – a dive he missed in prelims where he received 37.20 points.
Thatcher scored 6.5-7.0’s on his last dive, which was changed to an inward 1 ½ in order to take one of the 10 1-meter spots allotted for Zone B to NCAAs. He added a tally of 314.20 to his total in finals.
Bonniwell found herself in 27th place at one point in prelims, however she made an incredible effort on her final two dives, scoring 59.45 and 63.00 points in order to climb all the way into ninth place at 293.75.
“After her fourth round it looked like she wasn’t even going to final,” Proctor said. “On that fifth dive, she just flipped a switch and after prelims she was ninth and about 10 points away from a qualifying spot. She got that look in her eye and after that I knew she was going to do it.”
After missing on her first dive in finals, Bonniwell answered with five dives above 50 points, including her best in the fifth round at 60.90 in order to take over a qualifying spot. She moved up to take sixth after adding 327.55 to her total.
“Coming back from 27th in order to make it is just remarkable,” Proctor added. “I’ve never seen anything like it. She had some help with a few divers in front of her missing, but that’s the nature of this meet and anything can happen and she hung in there and got it done.”
Since Bonniwell finished within the top 12 on 1-meter on Monday, the Ithaca, N.Y., native can compete in bot springboard events at NCAAs.
Carlson scored 307.95 in prelims behind marks of 5.5-7.5 on each dive for sixth place. Again in finals, Carlson was consistent, adding a total of 338.15 in order to move up and take third.
Senior Aidan Faminoff dove in prelims of men’s 1-meter, scoring 256.60 for 29th place.
Both men and women will compete on platform on Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m. The top eight in each event will advance to NCAAs.
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