A pair of La Canada High School students qualified for national semifinals in mutiple events this past weekend at USA Diving’s Zone F qualifier at Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena.
In the 3-meter board, Ray Wipfli, 14, and Tatsuya Machida, 15, finished in first and second place in their age group Thursday; in the 1-meter board contest Friday, Wipfli was second and Machida placed third; and in the platform event Sunday, Machida was the winner and Wipfli finished second — despite having suffered a sprained hand during warmups.
The two LCF divers — both competing for Rose Bowl Dive Team — were among 259 divers competing from the South Western Zone, one of six zones nationwide. They move on to this year’s USA Diving Summer National Championships, which are scheduled to take place July 31-Aug. 13 in Columbus, Ohio. (After the meet, Wipfli will fly with his mom, Heather, to Uganda, where for the past several years they have helped run soccer and nutrition camps.)
“It was a good weekend, especially for me,” said Wipfli, who’s been diving for four years and competed at nationals for the first time last, finishing 12th on tower. “I’ve always looked up to Tatsuya as a role model in diving and now to be competing with him, and beating hims sometimes and losing against him sometimes, it’s really healthy for both of our diving.”
In the springboard events in Pasadena, the top three finishers from each age group in each springboard event qualify for the national semifinals while the divers who placed fourth-10th qualified for the preliminaries of the national championships in their events. For the platform event, the top three divers qualified for the semifinals while those who placed fourth-seventh moved on to prelims.
Wipfli said he has fond memories of last year’s national meet, despite finishing outside the top 10.
“There’s always people who are better than you, and competing in California, I thought I was pretty high up there,” Wipfli said. “And then you go to these big meets where there are so many people who are better than you — it was really exciting to compete against those people who are so good. Every day was super-exciting, which I don’t get at a normal practice.”