Ishimatsu leads USC at the Wildcat Invitational

This weekend the USC men and women’s diving team found significant success after traveling to Arizona for the Wildcat Invitational.

Junior Victoria Ishimatsu brought home first place, and sophomore Ariel Rittenhouse third place, in the 1-meter competition for the Women of Troy on Saturday. On the men’s side, junior Harrison Jones and senior Steven Starks both reached the final of the 3-meter, while senior Greg Miller placed 20th and 24th in the 1-meter and 3-meter qualifying rounds, respectively. Starks also won the platform title on Sunday.

The invitational was successful for both USC dive teams, and diving coach Hongping Li explained why it was important to the Trojans.

“We are not really in season yet, so [the Wildcat Invitational] was not critical, but it is important,” Li said. “We learned where we were in terms of competitors, and saw if we were leading or if we were behind.”

Ishimatsu won the 1-meter with a score of 319.50, almost 20 full points ahead of the second-place winner, Samantha Pickens of Arizona (290.65). Ishimatsu also won the consolation final of the 3-meter competition, securing multiple victories for USC.

The team was forced to deal with difficult weather conditions — the wind was noticably strong and the air was extremely dry. But despite the challenge, Ishimatsu said the team was able to focus and perform.

“Our strengths [in the Invitational] were our ability to push through the rough conditions of a really long contest, wind and dry weather,” Ishimatsu said.

Jones placed fourth in the final of the 3-meter, with a score of 365.95, while Starks was came in seventh place at 333.55 points. Starks’ win of the platform title over Arizona’s Andre Guerra by one point was also a highlight of the weekend, while Jones placed third in the platform final.

“Overall our team did well with the difficult conditions. There were a lot of participants, the most I have ever seen in an event,” Ishimatsu said. “I think what we took away from the competition was that … we can’t control the weather or how many divers are in the contest but we can control ourselves.”

The dive teams, along with the men and women’s swim teams, will next participate in the U.S. Nationals in December.

“Our team is very elite this year,” Li said. “I am hoping to see a very mature performance throughout the season coming up.”