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Men’s diving team rebuilding

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | FEBRUARY 17, 2010 7:30 AM

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When the Iowa men’s diving team finishes its season after Big Ten championships next week, the only two divers who scored points for Iowa this season will be gone.

Without seniors Michael Gilligan and Frank Van Dijkhuizen, the Hawkeyes are left with Jay Bell, a redshirt freshman who has yet to compete.

However, even with the departure of the two senior divers, experience will not be hard to come by for the men.

“The good thing is that the women coming back are really good,” Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze said.
Returning next season for the women are senior Deidre Freeman, junior Veronica Rydze, as well as freshman Mary Sue LeMay.

Rydze said although the men’s team doesn’t have any experience, the women might actually be the key to the men’s success.

“They’re seasoned veterans,” he said. “The men will be learning more by watching them next year. We’re going to have one of the best women’s team in the Big Tens. Whoever comes in with the guys, that will motivate them.”

Meanwhile, Bell isn’t in need of motivation. His coaches and teammates said the freshman is one of the hardest workers.

“Jay really tries hard,” Van Dijkhuizen said. “When he came here, he had no idea what diving was like at this level of participation. He’s come a long way so far, and if he keeps progressing like this, he’ll get to score some points in the future.”

Rydze said Bell is adamant about doing well. Sometimes, he’s even too hard on himself.

“He’s come a long way mechanically, but he still gets down on himself a little bit,” Rydze said. “I would say he has more of a wrestler’s mentality. When something doesn’t go right, he likes to put his hand through the wall.”

After not competing this season, Bell will be thrust into the limelight next year, expected to compete for the Hawkeyes. He understands the pressure to perform well. But he’s not letting himself lose focus of his training.

“I would say there would be pressure if you looked at it that way,” Bell said. “But with diving you just want to not think about stuff like that because as soon as you get your head up your butt, then you’re not going to have a good meet.”

Gilligan has been a mentor to the freshman. He said he thinks Bell is ready to take on the challenge and start being successful.

“There are improvements to be made, but he’s working at it,” Gilligan said. “He has the new facility, and Bob; with that, they should be able to do great things together.”

Over the last couple weeks, the Hawkeyes have been entertaining a few recruits with the hopes of replacing their seniors.

However, Rydze said, in diving, experience can do more than talent.

“I’m optimistic that we’re going to have a couple of really good divers, but there is nothing in diving like experience,” he said. “I don’t care if you are one of the greatest freshman in the United States. You just can’t teach experience. That’s the bottom line.”


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