Junior diver Joe O’Brien took home top honors in the men’s 1-meter diving competition at the Oswego Diving Invitational on Saturday at Laker Pool.
O’Brien recorded a career-high 463.10 points in the event, which surpassed the next highest score by over 20 points.
“I feel like he did fantastic,” Oswego State diving coach Kevin Morgan said. “He’s really come a long way this season.”
Not only was the mark a personal high for O’Brien, it qualified him for consideration for the NCAA Championships.
“With the score, it allows us to send in a videotape to the NCAA selection committee and hopefully the tape is good enough,” Morgan said. “He could be selected to be one of the top 22 divers to compete in a national meet.”
O’Brien said that he would welcome the opportunity to compete on such a grand stage.
“I would be elated,” he said. “In high school, I went to states for two years in a row, my junior and senior years. I would love to repeat that again in my college career.”
O’Brien also competed in the 3-meter event, placing second with a score of 436 points, behind senior Chris Austin of The College at Brockport, whom recorded a total of 482.15.
“I felt like I tried my best,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t perform my best on the 3-meter, but I pulled through on 1-meter, so I was confident and excited about that.”
Competing alongside O’Brien in both events was teammate and freshman Justin Berrios. He took third in both the men’s 1- and 3-meter events with scores of 393.05 and 425.7, respectively.
“Justin, just being a freshman, he’s come a long way in a short time,” Morgan said. “He made his major turnaround at our training trip this year. We went out and trained at Ohio State, and he developed a lot of the harder difficulty dives that are going to allow him to compete with a lot of other SUNYAC divers.”
On the women’s side, sophomore Kayla Fermoile was the lone competitor for Oswego State. Fermoile placed fourth in the women’s 1-meter with a total of 284.1. Audrey Jackson, a junior from Brockport, took the event with a score of 350.55.
“I’m looking for [Fermoile] to do well too,” Morgan said. “She’s come a long way with limited practice time and limited work this season.”
Although Morgan is pleased with the way his divers have performed this season, he believes they still have room for improvement as they gear up for the SUNYAC Championships this week at Erie Community College.
“The thing that I would say we probably need to work on the most is cleaning up some of our entries,” he said. “It’s just a matter of finishing the dives in the bottom, having good, clean, ripped entries and having that ‘wow factor’ that’s really going to make them stand out against the rest of the competition.”
O’Brien agrees with his coach’s sentiment.
“I have to work on all my entries on the 3-meter,” he said. “I just have no confidence in them. I haven’t been doing the big dives long enough. Now I have to be confident this weekend.”
O’Brien, who took a year off last season to work on his grades, is looking to embrace his role as a leader and help both himself and his teammates’ progress.
“It’s easy to show the other divers what they’re supposed to be doing because it makes me want to work harder for them,” he said. “Being a leader, it makes me work harder myself, as well as give more support and be a little more lenient on how I treat the others and how I respect them.”
“He’s worked very hard this year,” Morgan said of O’Brien. “After that year off, there’s a new fire in his eyes and a new dedication to the sport.”
Morgan is hoping that behind O’Brien’s leadership and his team’s constant improvement throughout the season, O’Brien, Berrios and Fermoile will contend at the SUNYAC Championships.
“I’m really proud of the work they’ve done,” Morgan said. “Five and a half months sounds like a long season, but at the same time, to see the growth that all three of them have had in such a short period of time, it’s really what brings joy to me as a coach.”