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Blythe Hartley Wins NCAA Title In
March 21, 2002

Blythe Hartley Freshman becomes first USC women's diver ever to win NCAA event;

Freshman Blythe Hartley became USC's first women's diver ever to win an NCAA title when she ran away with the 1-meter springboard competition on the first day of the 2002 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Jamail Texas Swim Center in Austin, Texas, on Thursday (March 21). Hartley, a Canadian native who the gold medal in the 1-meter for Canada at the 2001 World Championships, won the event on Thursday with 350.86 points, well ahead of second-place Yulia Pakhalina of Houston (320.40). Trojan sophomore teammate Nicci Fusaro earned her first All-American honors in the event as well by finishing eighth in 282.70.

The Trojans finished the first day of competition in seventh with 61.5 points. Auburn is in first (153), followed by Georgia (127) and host Texas (103). USC looked like it would be in fifth after taking seventh in the 400y medley relay, but was disqualified after the race. Hartley's and Fusaro's finish marks the first time USC has had two divers reach the finals of the NCAA 1-meter springboard since Natalya Chikina and Dorte Lindner did it in 1998. It is also the sixth time in the last seven years USC has had at least one diver earn All-American honors and the fourth time in the last seven years the Trojans have had at least two All-American divers in one meet

"I am so happy for Blythe that she was able to write some history for the
school," said third-year head diving coach Hongping Li, who won an NCAA diving title for USC as a freshman in 1986. "Her hard work,
determination and high standards for herself during practice are paying off. She's wonderful to coach. She's always asking for more, never less." Said Hartley, who led from the first dive to the last: "My first dive is usually my best. I was happy with it, but i knew my tough dives were to come. I don't relax until I'm done, but I felt good throughout the whole competition."

For Fusaro, it was her first appearance in an NCAA 1-meter final after reaching the finals of the 3-meter and platform last year. "It was a great surprise to see Nicci make the 1-meter finals," Li said. "It's not her strength. When she came to USC, she didn't even have a 1-meter list. But now she's one of the best divers in the country in it."

The meet continues Friday (March 22) and Saturday (March 23). Prelims begin at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m. each day (CST).

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