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Sarkisian out with injury as his father’s team comes to town

BY BEN WOLFSON | JANUARY 21, 2011 7:10 AM

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Hawkeye freshman diver Arsen Sarkisian has diving in his blood. The son of 13-time Armenian national champion Alik Sarkisian, he has been diving since he was a child. His father began coaching him by “tying a rope around [Arsen] and throwing him off the diving boards, then reeling him in.”

Alik Sarkisian is now the head diving coach at Northwestern, and father and son will be reunited this weekend when the Hawkeyes compete against the Wildcats in a dual meet at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

When Arsen was 12, his father accepted a job as the director and head coach at the USA Diving Regional Training Center in Oklahoma City. Arsen decided to stop diving until his freshman year of high school, when Alik Sarkisian was hired to coach the Northwestern team.

“I played tennis for a little bit, I tried swimming, but I never got the same adrenaline rush,” Arsen Sarkisian said. “It was more exciting. [My father] got a job in a college town, and it was my freshman year of high school, so I got into diving again.”



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Despite being an All-American diver while at Niles North High School in Skokie, Ill., Arsen Sarkisian never seriously considered diving for his father at Northwestern.

“My dad is a really good coach, but every once in a while, the coach/son [relationship] gets in the way,” Arsen Sarkisian said. “I really like the big-college-town atmosphere, and Northwestern is smaller, which didn’t appeal to me as much.”

Alik Sarkisian agreed with his son, saying “coaching your own is always the hardest.”

This is the dual meet of the year for which Arsen Sarkisian has awaited the most.

Besides competing against his father — who judges and scores the dives — Arsen would have competed against Northwestern divers he dove with in high school.

Unfortunately for both Sarkisians, there will be no dive-off between them. Arsen Sarkisian recently sprained a ligament in his right shoulder, and he will miss the first opportunity in his young career to compete against his father’s squad.

With Arsen Sarkisian out against the Wildcats this weekend, the Hawkeyes will have a tough task to overcome. Iowa will only have one diver available to score for the men’s team — fellow freshman Osvel Molina.

Fortunately for Arsen Sarkisian, he will most likely have another chance this season to compete against his father during the Big Ten championships.

“[Arsen Sarkisian’s injury] right now is day-by-day, but the only thing that is going to heal it is rest,” Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze said. “I’m not going to let him compete in any meets until he is able to go through practice without any problem.”


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