MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- Brittany Viola led qualifiers in
the women's 10-meter platform Friday at the U.S. National Diving
Championships, topping a pair of 2004 Olympians.
Viola finished ahead of Sara Hildebrand, who will represent the
United States in the 10-meter platform synchronized event in the
Olympics next month in Athens. Viola had 523.59 points to 502.95
Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic platform champion, was third
with 500.22 points after the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. The
finals are Sunday.
Wilkinson has won national 10-meter platform titles the last two
years and five of the last seven.
The meet is the final tuneup before the Olympics next month at
Kyle Prandi was the leading qualifier in the men's 10-meter
platform, outscoring Caesar Garcia 623.91 to 585.42. Matt Bricker
was third at 577.62.
The top eight qualifiers advanced to Saturday's final. Prandi
and Garcia will represent the United States at the Olympics, with
Prandi competing in the synchronized platform event with Mark Ruiz,
and Garcia entered in the platform.
Viola, the 17-year-old daughter of former Minnesota Twins
pitcher Frank Viola, finished second behind Wilkinson at the
Olympic trials last month and won't be joining her in Athens.
"This is just another meet for me, really," said Viola, whose
father watched her dive Friday. "I've been diving really well and
practicing hard, trying to be really consistent with my dives,
which I think showed today."
Viola, of Orlando, Fla., said she wasn't disappointed after
missing out on an Olympic team berth at the trials in June.
"I was really happy with it," she said of her second-place
finish. "I couldn't have been mad at myself about that."
Wilkinson, a 12-time national champion from Spring, Texas, was
second behind Viola after the quarterfinal round. She dropped to
third after Hildebrand recorded two 10.0 scores from the judges on
the eighth of her nine dives, a back 1½ with a twist.
Viola said she turns away when her rivals dive.
"I never really watch the other divers and I never hear their
scores or anything. I make sure I look the other way," she said.