USC hosts annual Diving Invitational

The USC men’s and women’s diving teams will host the Trojan Diving Invitational on Friday and Saturday at McDonald’s Stadium.

For the Trojans, this event provides the opportunity for the highly ranked teams to get started on the right foot and to make early statements.

The men’s diving squad, led by three first-time divers, looks to continue its success from last season. Freshmen Jordan Gear and Jason Harter will compete for the Trojans, as will junior Cody Walwick, who is a first-time diver.

Last season the men’s swim and dive squad finished at No. 7 after strong performances at the NCAA championships. This year USC has higher goals, and Saturday’s meet is the first step toward achieving them.

“We [have been] looking for a training result since the beginning of the season,” USC coach Hongping Li said. “This meet will provide a warm up for the dual meet coming up next week against [Arizona and Arizona State].”

On the women’s team, three-time Pac-10 diver of the year senior Victoria Ishimatsu returns to lead the team to even greater heights than last year’s squad, which finished No. 5 in the country at season’s end. Joining Ishimatsu will be freshmen Jessie Warren and Celia Pinczower.

Ishimatsu appears to be the story on the women’s side.

She was named an All-American in two events, the 1-meter springboard and the 3-meter springboard. She also won the Pac-10 championship in the 3-meter springboard.

This is the first major tournament of the season, and will include last year’s national champion California. For many of the divers, it will be their first collegiate competition.

“I am sure many first competitors in this event will be excited and anticipate to compete to their potential,” Li said. “It will be a good test for all divers early in the season.”

Though this is the first event of the year, Li expects the Trojans to perform to the best of their abilities.

“[We want] to see the divers to be able to perform [at] the level they have been trained,” Li said.

Also competing will be Stanford, which finished in the top five in the men’s and women’s rankings, as well as Arizona, Wisconsin, BYU, Air Force, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, Fresno State and Cal State Bakersfield.

The meet will begin Friday at 10 a.m. and will continue into Saturday, with the final event  at 11:30 am.