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Sophomores win titles, revive diving legacy

Ross, Viola both unanimous choices for ACC divers of the year

By: Christina De Nicola // Assistant Sports Editor

Issue date: 7/8/08 Section: Sports
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Diving head coach Randy Ableman might want to clear more space on the pool deck's wall.

Sophomores Reuben Ross and Brittany Viola each took home national titles in March against the nation's top collegiate talent, allowing Ableman to paint their faces on the wall of the Miami pool in the school's University Center.

Ross, who hopes to compete for his home country of Canada in the Beijing Olympics this August, earned the status of All-American for all three events - the one-meter and three-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform - while Viola achieved the distinction in the one-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform. Freshman J.J. Kinzbach received the accolade in his best event, the 10-meter platform, after finishing first in the preliminary round before finishing seventh in the final.

Both Ross and Viola, who were unanimous choices, won ACC Diver of the Year honors. In addition, Viola goes down in the ACC's record book as the first ACC platform diving champion, while Ross is just the second male diver in ACC history to capture a national championship. Since 2005, the Canes diving program has taken seven of the ACC's eight diving honors.

With a score of 362.60 in the platform final at Ohio State University's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, Viola became just the third Miami women's diver to win an NCAA championship, the last coming in 2000 when Jenny Keim won the same event.

Her winning score was the highest since 2005, when Indiana's Cassandra Cardinell received a mark of 501.45, 15.40 points higher than second-place finisher freshman Margaret Hostage of Stanford.

"I got out of the water and looked up to see my name go to the top and then looked at coach and my family," Viola said. "Getting the title was huge and just great because I worked so hard this year. I put my heart into it and had a goal in mind since September."

Viola was named NCAA Diver of the Year along with Ohio State junior Chelsea Davis and Hawaii sophomore Emma Friesen.

"We were both ecstatic because it was one of our goals," Ableman said. "She works so hard. In my mind, she's the best girl in the country at the 10-meter platform, and she came through in the clutch. She did everything right."

Ross joined Viola as a national champion with a victory in the three-meter springboard at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.

With a score of 466.80, Ross was able to hold off Georgia senior Chris Colwill with a key 91.80 fifth dive. Colwill earned second with a 460.55, a day after winning the one-meter event.

"I'm on top of the world right now," Ross said. "I've had a smile since the event finished. It's just an incredible feeling."

Ross' win was Miami's 22nd men's diving title overall and the first since Imre Lengvel won the 10-meter platform in 2002. It was the school's first three-meter springboard victory since Tyce Routson won the event in 1997.

"Going up against a defending champ is never an easy task, but Reuben went out there and really had an amazing night," Ableman said. "We gambled on his fifth dive and it paid off for us. We went with a dive that had a high degree of difficulty to maximize major points, and he nailed it.

"It was really special to see Reuben perform the way he did, and this had to have been the best performance of his life and it couldn't have come at a better time," Ableman said. "I am ecstatic over how well our divers have performed."

Christina De Nicola may be contacted at c.denicola@umiami.edu.
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