UMass diving tested in exhibition against UConn

By Philip Sanzo

(Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian)

Still in the very early stages of the season, the Massachusetts swimming and diving team participated in a diving-only exhibition against Connecticut this past Saturday to get some competition before its regular season schedule picks up.

UConn proved to be a tough opponent this early on in the diving season, taking first place in the women’s one-meter and three-meter and men’s one-meter and three-meter events. Taryn Urbanus finished first in both the women’s one-meter and three-meter dives with scores of 269.70 and 261.68 respectively.

Dan Kinney came in first in both events for the Huskies. He finished the one-meter and three-meter events with the respective scores of 295.95 and 258.16.

While the match had no team scoring or implications to either teams’ record, individual scores were recorded for each diver.

Although UMass did not finish first in any events, its divers continued to improve. Katie Polk and Nolan Burns finished with season-best marks in the one-meter competition. Polk, a freshman, finished third and received a 251.17 score while Burns, a junior, placed fourth with a score of 244.87.

In the women’s three-meter event Julia Jagannath scored her highest mark of the season with 248.62 points. Trent Kindvall’s 245.10 points put him past Burns and earned him fourth in the men’s three-meter dive.

“For this time of the year we did okay,” diving coach Mandy Hixon said. “I would have liked them to perform a little bit better against that high level of competition.”

Although the results of the match did not fall in UMass’ favor, Hixon was not overly disappointed claiming that it is still very early in the season.

According to Hixon, the team was not nearly as prepared as UConn was for the match.

“I’m still working on fundamental stuff with them. (UConn diving coach John Bransfield) had his divers doing their hard dives a long time ago,” Hixon said. “That’s just not the type of coach I am.”

No scoring was kept for the matchup, but Hixon believes the Minutewomen’s squad made up of Mikhaila Eckhardt, Jagannath, Emma Roush and Polk comparatively did better than the Minutemen.

Hixon noted that right now both teams are better than they were a year ago.

“I just think the kids are a year older,” Hixon said. “They just understand my coaching and sort of know what is expected of them.”

Hixon believes that both the men’s and women’s teams are improving and she has high expectations for the coming season.

“All of them, they are just getting stronger, their fundamentals are getting better and that’s the key for me, is just getting better,” Hixon said. She pointed out Kindvalls’ efforts in practice as an example of this improvement.

UMass will face its first real test in two weeks at the Tennessee Diving Invitational.

“There will be some divers there will finish top eight in the NCAA, so it’s going to be a really good competition,” Hixon said.

The invitational should prove to be an opportunity along with a learning experience for both diving squads.

“Hopefully, they’ll come out of there and say, ‘This is what I need to do,’” Hixon said.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.