Johnson, Cook claim titles on final day of Winter Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Steele Johnson said he was far from comfortable heading into his final six dives Sunday at the USA Diving Winter National Championships.
If that was the case, the NCAA diving champion from Purdue University didn't show it.
Johnson ran away with the senior men's 10-meter platform title with a score of 1523.05 points, easily outdistancing second-place Rafael Quintero (1414.60) of Puerto Rico and University of Arizona and David Dinsmore (1333.25) from the University of Miami.
''Training has been going really well over the past couple months, and it's cool to see the scores are translating into competition,'' Johnson said. ''I'm growing as a diver and a competitor, and it's cool God's given me the ability to do flips and make it look pretty.''
The win was Johnson's second of the week, as earlier he teamed with Olympic champion David Boudia to win the synchronized men's 10-meter platform title. Boudia bowed out Sunday's event to focus on training.
''I really do want to get back in the pool with him individually and see how we stack up,'' Johnson said. ''It's really close now, he used to blow me out of the water.''
The top two finishers in each event qualify for February's 2016 FINA Diving World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, which is used to determine Olympic spots for each nation.
Because Puerto Rico has its own Olympic team, Dinsmore will be the second U.S. representative in Rio.
''This is a new chapter for me,'' Dinsmore said. ''I'm just happy that it came together for me and I'm back on the world team.''
Kassidy Cook of Stanford University won the women's 3-meter springboard final with a total score of 975.20. It's her second national title in the event after winning at the USA Diving national championships in August.
''My coach told me stay in the moment and have fun because that's when I do my best,'' said Cook, who entered the final round with an 11.35-point lead on second-place Deidre Freeman, who ended up finishing fifth. ''I pretended that we were starting at square one and kept fighting through.''
Abby Johnston, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 3-meter springboard synchro, rallied from entering the finals in fourth place to a second-place finish with 950.75 points. She scored the highest dive in three of the five rounds to pass Freeman and Brooke Schultz.
''I knew I had a realistic shot in my mind,'' Johnston said. ''Today, I competed up to my potential and when I can compete that way all the time, it's a matter of doing it when the moment's right.''