13 Dec 2021 | 10:38 | Swimming & Diving
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Making their first trips to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, Emma Gullstrand and Mia Vallée impressed on Thursday on the 1-meter springboard.
Vallée earned NCAA All-America recognition by finishing among the top eight, while Gullstrand won the consolation final to capture Honorable Mention All-America honors at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
“I’m very proud of both of them,” head diving coach Randy Ableman said. “I have to keep reminding myself that this is their first NCAA Championships – no matter how many meets you go to, this a special event. There’s a lot of school pride and, as a result, a lot pressure from that. All in all, I can’t help but be proud with how they did and how they handled themselves.”
Gullstrand just missed one of her top dives – a forward 2 ½ somersault pike – to fall just out of the top eight with a score of 289.55 in the morning preliminaries. Gullstrand was just behind Charlye Campbell of Texas A&M (290.05), who took eighth.
Gulltrand came back with a vengeance, however, cruising to a victory in the consolation finals by finishing with a score of 323.90.
“Emma was set up to get into the finals and missed one of her best dives a little bit,” Ableman said. “That was very painful for her. She had high goals. We only have 10 minutes to turn it around and get herself ready for the consolation final.
“She was pretty upset before, because she wanted to be in that final so badly. I was really proud of her, the way she got her head on straight in a short amount of time and set a goal of winning the consolation final and showing people what she could really do.”
Vallée was another top performer Thursday, finishing sixth (304.00) in the morning’s preliminary to earn All-America status. Though she finished in eighth (289.70) in the night’s final, Ableman said he was encouraged by the effort of the Canada native.
“I’m super proud she made the final in her first NCAAs,” Ableman said. “She faltered on two dives in the finals, but the way that she faltered was being super aggressive. She never jumped so high and spun so fast. She over-rotated a little bit on two dives that are great dives for her – that’s part of the learning experience and learning to manage your adrenaline. She’ll be better for it.”
Both Gullstrand and Vallée have a short turnaround time; the duo is set to compete in the 3-meter springboard on Friday afternoon in Greensboro.
“Both of them know that they didn’t have the best of their meet of their lives, but they’re both in the top 10 of the NCAA in the first NCAA competition. That’s pretty darn good,” Ableman said. “It’s my job to get them to refocus for tomorrow because we have another long preliminary with 50 or so women competing. Our goal is to get right back in there and fight and hopefully get in the finals so we have another shot at making some magic.”