Joona Puhakka Wins National Championship On 1-Meter Springboard
March 27, 2003
AUSTIN, Texas -- Arizona State freshman men's diver Joona Puhakka won the national championship on the 1-meter springboard this evening during day one of the 2003 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships at the Jamail Texas Swim Center. Puhakka's tremendous season carried on with a school record setting performance of 395.80 in the final round to defeat his nearest competitor by nearly 37 points.
The team stands in ninth-place after the first day of competition with 52 points.
Puhakka stood in sixth position after the afternoon preliminary round with a score of 314.70, but the Finnish Olympian was not to be denied. He roared back in the evening session to break the ASU record he had been flirting with all season and sustain his unbeaten record on the 1-meter as a Sun Devil.
Coming into the meet, Puhakka stood less than a point shy of the previous Sun Devil 1-meter record of 392.48 and had come within 15 points of attaining the mark on four separate occasions.
The NCAA title in diving marks the first for Arizona State in 35 years and is only the third diving championship in Sun Devil history.
The meet started off well for ASU in the swimming pool, as the 200 freestyle relay squad of Nick Brunelli, Bobby Zaabadich, Wiley Wallace and Tom Hickman earned first-team All-American honors with their eighth place finish in 1:19.24. Brunelli led off the relay in a blistering 19.58 to set a career-best and move himself into second all-time in the Sun Devil record books.
Brunelli's impressive evening continued three events later in the 50 freestyle, as he took top honors in the consolation final, clocking a 19.60 to finish ninth overall. The junior All-American missed out on the championship final by three-hundredths of a second with a preliminary time of 19.75, his career best at the time.
Zaabadich, a senior, came in 16th place in the 50 free after swimming a 20.13 in tonight's consolation final. His morning prelim of 19.79 was also a career-best.
Day two of competition at the national championships begins tomorrow morning with swimming prelims at 11 a.m. Diving prelims are at 1 p.m. with all finals beginning at 7 p.m. Standings for the top-20 teams after day one of the meet are as follows:
1. Auburn 2062. Stanford 1213. California 1154. Texas 1075. Florida 816. USC 697. Minnesota 618. Georgia 559. Arizona St. 5210. TAMU 4511. Michigan 4212. Arizona 4113. Virgina 4014. Wisconsin 3815. Kentucky 2816. Princeton 2617. Tennessee 2518. LSU 1819. S. Carolina 1720 BYU 15