Delaney Schnell earns Silver at the Pan American Junior Diving Championshipsby Andy Morales on Sep. 26, 2013, under Sports
Hillenbrand Aquatic Center: September 16-29
Delaney Schnell has been here before – sort of. The Tucson High freshman diver had won a national platform championship in 2011 and then a silver medal at the Junior Pan American Championships in Colombia that fall and here she was again.
Schnell was only 12 years old in 2011 when she became the first junior diver from Arizona to win a national diving championship. Being at the bottom of the 12-13 age bracket, she was at a distinct disadvantage while competing against divers over a year older than she was but she still managed to bring silver back home for Team USA.
With the Junior Pan Am Diving Championships taking place every other year, Schnell once again faced the possibility of going against divers at the top of the 14-15 age bracket.
This time only 14, Schnell won another junior national championship on the platform in Minneapolis to qualify her for another shot at the Junior Pan Am’s. But, for the first time since 2005, the championships would be held in the United States and Tucson was to be the host city.
The Group B Girls 14-15 Platform Final was held Thursday afternoon at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on the University of Arizona campus. It was the last competition of the day so Schnell was able to see a few of her Team USA teammates score well and earn medals.
11-year-old Tarrin Gilliland of Liberty Hill, Texas started things off in the morning with a gold medal in her first international competition.
“I was expecting to be in the top three,” said Gilliland. “This was my first time and I was nervous because of the team from Mexico but I thanked my coach for getting me ready for the win.”
Gilliland may not be done. The sixth grader will try follow up her 3-meter win for Team USA when she competes in the 1-meter on Saturday and the platform on Sunday.
Vienna, Virginia sophomore Grayson Campbell won the Bronze in the 14-15 1-meter and then New Albany, Ohio sixth grader Noah Duperre won a Silver medal in the 12-13 boys platform.
“I feel really happy all my work paid off,” said Duperre. “I have so much more confidence now.”
Duperre was leading the competition going into the final dive and he might be able to use his experience when he competes in the 12-13 platform later in the week.
Mexico won the girls 16-18 1-meter and the boys 16-18 3-meter to give them their third championship of the day in five attempts. Canada won the 12-13 boys platform.
Next up was Schnell in the 14-15 platform. Schnell was in second place after the first round but she rebounded on the “Armstand Forward 1 Somersault Pike” to pass 15-year-old Samanta Jiménez of Mexico.
Schnell would remain in first place through four rounds until she scored low in the “Forward 3 1/2 Somersault Pike” to drop her to third place with only two dives left. Jiménez battled with her teammate Alejandra Estrella Madrigal for first place until the final dive.
Schnell scored big on the “Inward 2 1/2 Somersault Tuck” to push her on top but Jiménez did equally well on her final dive to retake the lead. Schnell and Jiménez had to wait for Madrigal’s final dive to see how things would turn out.
Madrigal missed on her “Reverse 2 1/2 Somersault Tuck” to fall back to third place, giving Jiménez the Gold and the Silver to Schnell.
One dive stood between Schnell and a Gold Medal but Schnell was very upbeat and positive after the event was over. “I feel a lot better now that it’s over,” explained Schnell.
“I had the same experience two years ago but there are still nerves and jitters. The one missed dive was a learning experience because it doesn’t matter about the present but where I will be.”
Schnell will be in lots of places.
She has the Junior Olympic Trials and the Senior Nationals later this fall and then there’s the Arizona High School championships. Schnell could win four-straight AIA championships for Tucson High but a few stops representing Team USA may prevent her from accomplishing that goal. She could very well be one of Tucson’s next Olympians.
Schnell’s sister Reilly is a junior swimmer for Tucson High and the sisters have given the Badgers an added boost in the sport. With piano, ballet and sign language to go along with her perfect grades in her rigorous academic subjects, Delaney can pretty much write her own ticket as far as picking a college goes.
She dives for the Tucson Diving Team under the tutelage of two-time Arizona State High School Champion and University of Arizona Team Champion Allison Scaife.
The Tucson Diving Team is run by Dr. Michele Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell has been coaching the divers at the University of Arizona for over 13 years. A two-time Olympic Silver Medalist, she knows how much hosting an event such as the Junior Pan American Championships means to the community.
“An even like this is great for Tucson, the University and for the facility,” she explained.
“Hosting the Junior Pan American Championships is also great for recruiting because the world comes to you. It also shows the divers from my club program what it takes at this level to succeed. But, the best thing, I get to see friends I’ve known for over 30 years because they are coming to my house.”
Dr. Mitchell’s house will be hosting plenty more of the top juniors in the America’s – 96 in all – through Sunday.