ND Men’s Diving: Three divers lead squad toward title
Andrew Owens | Tuesday, February 9, 2010
When Notre Dame heads to the Big East Championships in Pittsburgh this weekend, three divers, led by one coach, will set the tone for the Irish.
Juniors Wesley Villaflor and Nathan Geary and freshman Ryan Koter are a part of the “Big Three” for the Irish diving squad. Irish coach Tim Welsh is optimistic that they will continue to perform at a high level.
“What we have seen this year is three guys who have all improved,” Welsh said. “They dove very well at the Shamrock Invitational last weekend.”
In the Shamrock Invitational, Notre Dame (5-6) beat Denver, but lost to Iowa and Missouri. Villaflor placed second in the 3-meter diving event, finishing with 367.15 points. Geary finished fifth with 296.50 and Koter eighth with 271.30.
“They dive as a team and that is something we have been able to do for years,” Welsh said. “They are a unified group and they have had some great performances.”
In last year’s NCAA Zone Meet, Geary posted a combined score of 564.20, and Villaflor ended with a score of 239.50.
Villaflor closed out last season with posted scores of 324.00 and 323.75 against Northwestern and at the Big East Championships, respectively. His career best for the 3-meter is 326.70 at the 2009 Shamrock Invitational. Geary also came up big at this time of the year last season. He scored a 313.65 at Northwestern, his career best for the 1-meter.
This will be the first Big East Championships Koter has participated in, but the rigorous schedule the Irish have had should be enough to preparation for this weekend.
Welsh credited coach Caiming Xie with the success of the diving program.
“We depend on Caiming a lot,” Welsh said. “When he says the swimmers are ready to go, then they are ready to go. He really is a superb coach.”
This is Xie’s 15th season as the Notre Dame diving coach. He coached 2008 All-American Michael Bulfin and was named the Big East Men’s Diving Coach of the Year each year from 2005-2007. Under Xie, Notre Dame’s male divers have posted the top seven scores in school history in 1-meter diving, and eight of the top ten scores in 3-meter diving.
Villaflor, Geary and Koter will look to add to the accomplished list of Xie’s pupils this weekend at the Big East Championships.