Oregon native and St. Francis de Sales graduate Dylan Szegedi went into the NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships with a clear head.
The Wayne State University sophomore, 20, qualified in the one- and three-meter diving events and didn’t have any preconceived notions about where he would ultimately finish last week in Birmingham, Ala.
|Oregon native and St. Francis de
Sales graduate Dylan Szegedi.
“I didn’t expect to win it at all this year,” Szegedi admitted. “I’m still young, only a sophomore. My goal was to make it into the finals on both boards. Top eight. From there, I didn’t care. If I got eighth place, I got eighth place. That was my goal this year, to make finals on both boards.”
Szegedi not only made it to the finals on both boards – he won the one-meter diving title to become Wayne State’s first-ever male national champ in diving. He finished third in the three-meter diving event.
“It’s just an amazing feeling,” said the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Szegedi, who placed fourth at the state meet as a senior at St. Francis. “Once I got to the finals, I said, ‘OK, I achieved my goal and now this is just gravy, the cherry on the sundae.’ I dove really relaxed, with a relaxed mentality, and I just let it all go. I ended up diving really well. It was an awesome experience.”
Szegedi even got a congratulatory text message from his coach at St. Francis, Scott Ten Eyck, who helped Szegedi become a three-time state meet qualifier for the Knights.
The top eight finals qualifiers at the NCAA Championships had 11 dives in the preliminary competition. The top five dives from the prelims were then added to each diver’s six-dive score in the finals.
Szegedi was in fifth place after the prelims, with 487.30 points. He then scored a school-record 343 points in the finals and finished in first place with 529.65 points, helping WSU finish in fifth place in the men’s team standings.
The second-place finisher, Luke Weber, had 526.70 points. Szegedi said his final dive, an inward two-and-a-half tuck, clinched the victory.
“That has been my best dive for two years now,” he said. “I didn’t look at the scoreboard. I knew if I looked, I would get nervous, but I knew I was close. I knew if I hit my inward two-and-a-half I would have a shot. I did it phenomenally. I got 69 points, which is a new career high for me on the one-meter.
“After I got out of the pool I looked up on the board and said, ‘wow, I have a shot at this!’ My coach, Kelly (LaCroix), was pacing. When the last kid went, he came up three points shy of me. I was fourth to go in the order, so I had to wait for four other guys to go. The last guy to go did a phenomenal dive and came up just short. Once I saw the score, that I won, I just went crazy.”
Szegedi said Wayne State’s three previous NCAA diving champions were all females, and all three were juniors when they won.
“I said, ‘Kelly, I’m a year early,’ ” Szegedi joked. “She goes, ‘It’s OK.’ ”
The three-meter diving event was held last Wednesday, two days before the one-meter event. Szegedi finished third in the three-meters with 544 points but scored a school-record 368 points in the fnals.
“I was ecstatic finishing third,” Szegedi said. “It was great. I thought finishing third was cool, and then I won the one-meter on Friday. I did extremely well on the three-meter. I hit pretty much hit all my dives.”