CHAMPION! Vallée Wins NCAA Title in Record-Breaking Fashion
ATLANTA – To win an NCAA national championship was sweet.
To do so in record-breaking fashion was even sweeter.
Third-year diver Mia Vallée became the 14th diver to win a national championship under head coach Randy Ableman Thursday night, clinching top honors in the 1-meter springboard at the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships from the McAuley Aquatic Center.
“I am so proud. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do this, especially not this year,” she said. “There are so amazing women in this event. I never would have thought that we would be here. I’m just so proud. Seeing Randy that proud of me, seeing everybody so excited…I could hear it as the event went on, more and more people were cheering me on and I could feel the support from the people in the pool. It was amazing.”
Vallée’s score of 365.756 was an NCAA Championships record, topping Minnesota Golden Gophers diver Sarah Bacon’s score from 2019 (363.20). Bacon, coincidentally, finished second in the 1-meter (356.60) behind Vallée on Thursday.
By virtue of her national title, Vallée picked up the second All-America honor of her career to open the Hurricanes’ run at the 2022 NCAA Championships on the Georgia Tech campus.
In both a preliminary field of roughly 50 divers and a finals field of only eight, Vallée was the first diver to take her position on the boards.
“Starting first is never fun,” she said. “It is stressful to be the one starting the round. I think having done it in prelims, it was easier to do in finals. Everyone starts at zero. So I really went in with the mentality that everybody is back at the start…nobody is ahead of anyone else.”
The Montreal native’s top score in the finals came on her reverse 2 1/2 somersault tuck, which she nailed for 69.00 points in the fifth round of the finals. Three of her six final dives scored more than 60 points, including an inward 2 1/2 somersault tuck with a difficulty of 3.1 in Round 2 that netted her 68.20.
“I’ve never looked at the board,” she said when asked about being cognizant of her record-breaking potential. “I didn’t know where I was placing when I finished. I had no idea I had been in first at all. I don’t listen to anyone else’s scores so I didn’t know how anybody else was doing.”
Vallée, one of eight women to qualify for the finals of the 1-meter springboard, continued her dominant postseason run in eye-popping fashion. Vallée, who picked up two medals at the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships in February, qualified for the finals with a preliminary round score of 309.75.
“Mia missed one of her difficult dives and then battled back to make the final,” Ableman said. “She looked awesome in the warmup and was ready for battle all day long.”
Emma Gullstrand picked up Honorable Mention All-America honors by finishing 10th in a loaded field. The Sweden native, competing in her second ever NCAA Diving Championships, finished the morning’s preliminary round in 11th place with a score of 300.65.
She was second in the eight-person consolation final, posting a score of 328.50.
It was the second Honorable Mention All-America honor for Gullstrand, who took ninth in the 1-meter at last season’s NCAA Championships.
“Emma did some great dives, but missed one a little bit which kept her out of the final,” Ableman said. “She was very disappointed but pulled herself together and had a nice performance in the consolation final. She is motivated and reset for tomorrow.”
Both Vallée and Gullstrand will return to the boards Friday for the 3-meter springboard, with preliminaries scheduled to begin at roughly 12:30 p.m. ET.