Team begins play at Bruin Diving Invitational
Often overlooked because of its small size, the Stanford diving team has been one of the nation’s premier programs for the past several years. The team fields eight divers — four men and four women. The team’s relatively low on-campus profile is attributable to both its size and the fact that many of its events take place at large tournaments off-campus rather than in dual meets.
In a sport measured chiefly by individual achievement, the Cardinal divers had some success last year. The men’s team sent two divers to last year’s NCAA Tournament, senior Dwight Dumais and junior Brent Eichenseer. Dumais was an All-American in both the one-meter and three-meter springboards, and Eichenseer exceeded expectations by winning All-American honors in platform diving.
“It was the first time I was an All-American on both boards,” Dumais said. “I was seeded second in the one-meter finals. But diving is a sport of moments — I didn’t have the best of competitions and I ended eighth. College diving is so deep right now — if you don’t compete at your best, it’s tough to win.”
Head coach Dr. Rick Schavone, who is entering his 32nd season as Stanford diving’s coach, said he was pleased with last year’s results.
“The men had a very good meet. Brent was exceptionally good,” Schavone said. “He had a very good year and we hope to build on that.”
The women’s team did not have as much success, however. Junior Meg Hostage was unable to finish strong at NCAAs, placing 25th and 27th in the one-meter and three-meter, respectively. Senior Carmen Stellar had relatively more success, placing 14th in the platform consolation finals.
“Carmen was a walk-on, so to do that in her junior year was an amazing accomplishment,” Schavone said. “Stellar had a great year, but the women’s season was a disappointment overall.”
For this season, the main focus is on getting Dumais, Eichenseer, Stellar and Hostage back to the NCAA Finals and improving on last year’s finishes. Given that all four have already been to the NCAAs at least once, chances are high that this goal will be accomplished.
“We want to be in the top 16 for both men and women,” Schavone said.
While the team trains together to build up camaraderie, diving is essentially an individual sport and each diver has personal goals for the end of the season. The two seniors are the most ambitious.
“My goal is an individual NCAA title on the one or three-meter springboard. I don’t want to end my Stanford career without bringing home a title,” Dumais said. “Statistically, the one-meter springboard has been my best event — I have three All-Americans and have competed internationally. Right now, the three-meter is primarily my focus. That’s an Olympic event while the one-meter is not, so that’s where I’d like to have my success.”
Stellar also has big expectations.
“I’d love to final in all events at NCAAs,” she said. “I also want to get top-three finishes in all three events at the Pac-10 championships.”
The Cardinal sophomores and freshmen don’t really come into this picture, but Schavone explained that the team’s approach is very long-term.
“[The underclassmen] are just getting better,” he said. “They will keep improving and get to a level where they can replace the upperclassmen. It’s a four-year process.”
Sophomore Mary-Beth Corbett also talked about this progression.
“Being a diver is a four-year process. The emphasis in freshman and sophomore year is looking at the upperclassmen, learning and developing new skills. That’s what makes Stanford Diving different from other schools — the focus on the development program.”
Corbett said her main goal for this year was to do well on her dives and continue improving.
“I want to make a statement that I am going to be one of the top Stanford divers,” she said.
The diving team faces its first competition of the winter season this weekend, when both the men and the women head to Los Angeles to compete in the Bruin Diving Invitational.
“We have two factors working against us: the team went on a break and then they came back and trained really hard — we’re a little beat up right now. This is just an introductory level for the boys,” Schavone said. “It’s a test for the girls against the USC girls, who are the best in the conference — we can see where we are against them. It’s our first meet back — it’s just about getting our feet wet.”
Stellar agreed, saying: “It’s an early meet, so I’m excited to get a look at the competition and see where I’m at.”
“I simply want to test out how much I’ve been training and how much I’ve improved over the break,” Eichenseer added.
The Bruin Diving Invitational will take place all day Saturday and Sunday.