Gymnastics background helps Colorado Mesa divers succeed
Gymnasts make good divers.
Gymnastics helped Brock Martin become a four-time all-state diver in high school and earned him a college scholarship.
The Colorado Mesa University junior has qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championships his first two years, earning All-America honors in 1-meter last year.
Women divers Amanda Jennings and Savannah Craft qualified for nationals last year in their first collegiate season. Both were gymnasts growing up.
“Gymnastics is a huge plus,” CMU diving coach Chuck Edgar said. “You throw your body around in midair, and you point your toes, hand springs, hand stands. All those things relate to diving. There is a lot of the same skills.”
Gymnastics gave Martin an edge at Evanston (Wyo.) High School.
“(Wyoming high school diving) is really competitive, at least when I was in high school,” Martin said. “My graduating class had a lot of good drivers all around the state. I had to go to diving camps if I wanted to do good. I had a really good coach in high school.
“Without that big competition, it wouldn’t have pushed me to learn some of the dives I did and to go on and put money into the sport. I put a lot of time and effort into it in high school.”
He wants to earn All-America honors on both boards this year. He took ninth in 3-meter last year, which is honorable mention All-America.
Mesa swimming and diving head coach Ron Allen doesn’t have any returning national qualifiers in swimming, but he believes they could qualify some relay teams and possibly a couple of individuals.
“I think we’ll be able to take this team to the next level,” Allen said. “That’s really my gut feeling. With what I saw in the intrasquad meet this past weekend, No. 1, there was so much early season talent that really showed. I think these guys will send more relays to nationals than they have before. Once we get one, two or three relays to nationals, they’ll have some B cuts there, too. I think our representation at nationals will be much improved.”
Allen believes new faces Tyler Kaslik (distance, freestyle), El Hozzaz Mehdi (freestyle) and Garrett Koehler will make a big impact along with the return of Brett Lowe, Kyle Jones, Rob Eisendrath and Josh Scheuerman.
Alejandro Hernandez graduated, Kent Stavrakas is redshirting with a shoulder injury, and Scott Strehlow left the team.
“I think we’ll be darn good this year,” Allen said. “I think one more year down the road we’ll be very, very good.”
The women lost Katie Weidel and twin sisters Jaclyn and Jordan McMillen, but Kelly Hogan and Briana Purkapile return.
“Kelly is a racer,” Allen said. “She’s a competitor. She can turn it on in races.”
Some of the new women include freshman distance swimmer Sydney Miller, freshman Amy Bodie and transfer Luisa Radiac.
The Mavericks begin the season at 5:30 p.m. Friday with the Intermountain Shootout at El Pomar Natatorium. The Mavericks host the Air Force men, Northern Colorado women and the University of Colorado men’s and women’s club teams.
Allen wants to get a sense of what the CMU swimmers can do this weekend.
“I want to see what they are capable of doing,” Allen said. “I want to see who’s in shape.”
The swimmers likely will swim in two or three of their primary events and one or two of their off events.
The men’s team is picked to finish fourth in the RMAC. The women are picked third. RMAC associate member Grand Canyon is picked to win the men’s and women’s titles.