Dumais, Ruehl Complete Teen Diving Dominance
Aug. 19, 1996
MOULTRIE, Ga. (AP) _ Teen-agers continued their domination of the Phillips 66 National Diving Championships on Sunday.
Troy Dumais, 16, won the men's 3-meter springboard on the final day of the competition, while Olympian Becky Ruehl and Laura Wilkinson, both 18, finished 1-2 in the women's 10-meter platform.
Dumais came from 13 points behind in the final round to surpass Dean Panaro, who had taken the lead one round earlier.
Both divers attempted a reverse 3 1/2-somersault tuck, with Dumais getting 6s and 7s and Panaro 3s and 4s. The low scores dropped Panaro to third and allowed two-time Olympian Scott Donie to take second.
Dumais' victory gave him a sweep of the two men's springboard events and his second national title. The 14-time U.S. junior champion and 1995 double world junior champion is often compared to a young Greg Louganis. He lived up to that billing in June when he nearly qualified for the Olympic team on platform, then won two gold medals and one bronze this week.
``I can't believe this,'' said Dumais, who won the 1-meter event Thursday. ``I knew it was going to come down to the last dive. It didn't matter if I was ahead or if he was ahead. I was calm and I hit it the way I wanted to. I've done that dive eight times in competition and I've never gotten under a 6. It's a dive I really rely on.
``This win is better because it's an Olympic event,'' he added. ``Now I know I can do it. Now I know I have a chance to make the Olympics and I have four years to go.''
Ruehl continued her stellar year with a 40-point win. In addition to her fourth-place finish on platform at the Olympics, she won both the U.S. indoor and outdoor platform titles and the NCAA platform championship as a freshman at the University of Cincinnati. Sunday's triumph was her third straight U.S. platform crown and fourth overall.
``It's been an incredible year,'' said Ruehl, who plans to add more difficult dives to her program next year. ``It's going to be fun to kind of follow it up. I'm going to try to build on this year, but I'm prepared to not do as well at the start because I'm changing my dives. I'm sure I'll learn plenty.''
Wilkinson, who later won the synchronized platform gold medal with teammate Patty Armstrong, was a surprise second, while Olympic trials finalist Kim Stanfield was third.
Russ Bertram, already a double champion, added a third title by taking the synchronized 3-meter with Chris Mantilla. The same pair won synchronized platform Saturday.
Led by Bertram, the Fort Lauderdale Diving Team won the men's and combined team titles under the direction of first-year head coach Tim O'Brien. O'Brien took over the Fort Lauderdale program from his father, eight-time Olympic coach Ron O'Brien, earlier this summer.
The Cincinnati Stingrays, led by Ruehl, won the women's team title.